THE 1940-1941 SEASON
 
 
The Jell-O cast returns for another season.  This year the status quo remains, with all of the regular cast members back from last season (Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson) returning, with help from the usual "non-cast" members such as Mel Blanc, Verna Felton, and Frank Nelson, among others.  Jack's "real life" old flame Mary (Bubbles) Kelly appears again as the "Blue Fairy" character. 

Jell-O remains the program's sponsor, and "The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny" finishes first overall in the radio Hooper ratings, an increase from their second place finish the year previous.  The Jell-O Program Hooper rating for the 1940-1941 season is 36.2, the highest that the show had recorded since the 36.4 rating of the 1934-1935 season, and the second-highest rating that the program would ever record. The program would suffer a relatively dramatic drop to fifth place next season.

The writers for the program remain Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow. Each Jell-O program still begins with a brief musical number from the orchestra prior to Don Wilson doing the Jell-O commercial.
 
On December 23, 1940, TIME magazine publishes a short profile of Jack Benny and the program, mainly focused with monetary issues.  It states that Benny is being paid $630,000 for the season (of which, after paying for "an orchestra, announcer, gagmen and his cast", he nets $350,000).  Discussing the writers, it puts Bill Morrow's salary at $1,500 a week, and "his assistant"' Eddie Beloin's at $560 a week less. Other contemporary articles also describe Morrow as the "main" writer and Beloin as his assistant, but it doesn't seem that they truly regarded each other that way.

This season the program will travel to New York City in December, and feature an extended trip to Palm Springs in February. Also Jack misses an episode in February as Herbert Marshall fills in as host, and as World War II rages on with America still on the sidelines, but not for long (
this is the last full season of shows prior to the United States entering the war): in a sign of things to come, the very last program of the season is broadcast on location from a Naval Base.

The Jell-O Program's first place finish in the 1940-1941 ratings won't be the only good news for Jack this season. In May of 1941, the NBC network pays tribute to Jack Benny's "tenth anniversary in radio" with a large party and a special "Life of Jack Benny" radio program. It is during this time that NBC President Niles Trammell famously guarantees Jack the Sunday evening at 7:00 pm time slot on NBC for "as long as Jack wants it".

Of course big changes were underway to radio in the 1940-1941 season, as the seeming lead-up to America's involvement in the war continued. Listed among the Radio Daily's Radio Annual list of "Ten Outstanding Radio News Events of 1941" were "radio industry offers full facilities to all branches of the Government as war is declared against the Axis",

Once again recordings circulate of every episode for this season. Also worth noting (well, by me, anyway, your mileage may vary) is that on many occasions this season after the new year, the program-opening number by the orchestra is an "original" song with a usually "jokey" title, said title often referring to locations in and around Hollywood, California. The reason for the sudden originality in the opening orchestra is almost certainly the ASCAP ban. The contract that ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) had with the radio networks expired on December 31,1940, and on the following New Years Day the networks pulled all ASCAP-owned songs from the airwaves. Because the company owned the publishing to the vast majority of popular songs, this resulted not only in the proliferation of foreign and public domain songs on the music charts, but also the need to feature non-ASCAP controlled songs on radio programs, such as the Jack Benny show. 


[latest revision:  October 26, 2014]

 
 
1.    10/06/40              JACK TELLS HIS CHILDHOOD STORY (THE BLUE FAIRY RETURNS)
 
Orchestra Opening:

Don's Introduction:   [There is no traditional introduction by Don Wilson on this episode]

The Show:   Jack and the show return from summer vacation.  The show begins with gentle, soothing music, and then the voice of Frank Nelson:  "Fall is here.  It is the sixth day of October and Jell-O is back on the air. But where are our little playmates? Where are Don-sy and Phil-sy, and Mary and Dennis? And Jackie-boy?  Ahh me, they're still asleep.  For fifteen weeks, they have been in the arms of Morpheus. (sound of snoring) Wake up....wake up little playmates.....alas, they do not heed my summons. However, we must get them up. But how? How can we awaken our Master of Ceremonies? How can we arouse Jackie-boy?"  Mary: "Drop a quarter".  Jack: "You're asleep!".  Nelson: "Alas, my efforts are unavailing. If only someone with magic powers would assist me..."
Then, in her third appearance,  the Blue Fairy (Mary Kelly) appears to wake up the cast (Jack, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, and announcer Don Wilson).  

The title for this episode that appears on many logs/lists, 
"Jack Tells His Childhood Story", is somewhat misleading.  After Dennis asks for a raise, Jack tells Dennis a very brief story about his "poor" childhood. The beginning "fantasy" segment (which during the episode Jack claims he wrote) is much more of the focus of this episode. Unfortunately, despite the unusual beginning, especially for a season opener, it is not one of Beloin and Morrow's strongest scripts.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "When the Swallows Come Back To Capistrano" , although all of the music segments are cut on most (all?) of the circulating copies.

Note:  The Movie-Radio Guide October 5, 1940 issue noted the return of the Benny program, and shows that the "Tenth Anniversary" hype was building even at the opening of the 1940-1941 season:
"Jack Benny, with a Honolulu vacation and a new movie, Love Thy Neighbor, written into his credit column since radio fans last heard the familiar 'Jell-O again', says it again this Sunday as he begins his tenth big year on the air. With him on the opening program will be the usual gang---Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, Andy Devine and and Rochester"


Variety, October 9, 1940



2.    10/13/40            PHIL TRIES TO COLLECT A WORLD SERIES BET

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a man who returned to the air last Sunday happy as a June bride, and just as nervous---Jack Benny~!"
 
The Show:   Jack protests to Don that he wasn't the least bit nervous last week, and explains the difference between being jittery and high strung. Jack says he was just "high strung, like anybody who wants to give a good performance":

Mary:   "He's right, Don. Did you ever see a football player before a big game? Or a fighter before he goes into the ring? Did you ever see Helen Hayes before she steps out on the stage? Did you ever see Jack in a bathing suit?"
Jack:   "What's THAT got to do with it~!?"

Jack says that the Blue Fairy fantasy he "wrote" last week received great reviews, and that newspaper columnist Ed Sullivan raved about the little playlet. Jack just happens to have a copy of the review with him to read to Don. After mentioning the other cast members first, by the time Sullivan finally gets to Jack, the review mentions that the fantasy Jack wrote was "puerile and banal", which Jack mistakenly believes are good attributes.

When Phil enters, he mentions the reviews, and doesn't know the meaning of the words "puerile and banal": Jack tells him they're a dance team. Jack teases Phil about not knowing the meaning of the words, when Mary correctly points out that Jack himself didn't know what they meant a few minutes ago. Jack's reply:  "I knew they were words, I didn't think they were PEOPLE!", is an example of Jack's perfect line delivery, an amusingly written line rendered hysterically funny by Jack's delivery.

Jack plays his violin in a number with Phil and the band, "Get the Moon Out of Your Eyes". Phil asks Jack to pay up on their $10 World Series bet, and Jack says he needs to go out into the hall to get the money. It also turns out that Jack bet Don on the World Series as well, but this time Jack bet on Cincinnati, so Don pays Jack the $5.

Mary reads a letter from her mother. Dennis Day enters a bit late; when Jack asks him to be more timely, Dennis replies that he just "stands around like a totem pole". Jack argues that Dennis gets to sing a song every week, but Dennis protests that "Kenny Baker gets dialog~!"

Jack reveals that Rochester has been elected Mayor of Central Avenue (a center of the city's African-American community; see the notes below for more details.

Okay, this is more like it. After a shaky start to the season, Morrow and Beloin are quickly back to the top of their game.  Unlike last week's busy program with the Blue Fairy Fantasy play, on this week's program a positively Seinfeld-ian "nothing" happens.  Well, there is a small plot, of course, or rather, two concurrent running gags...in one, Jack reads a review of last week's Blue Fairy fantasy that mentions it was "puerile and banal"; and in the other, Jack has made bets with everyone on the World Series, wagering on both teams to win in order to cover all his bases, so to speak. Despite the "lack" of structure, this week's program is substantially funnier than last week. Several of the lines are gems: Mary's rapid-fire "did you ever see Jack in a bathing suit", Jack's "....I didn't think they were people~!", and Mary's "you almost missed out on the last war" are just the toppers to a very well-done and entertaining program.

Dennis' song:   Dennis sings "The Nearness of You". The song, now a jazz standard, was written in 1938 by Hoagy Carmichael (music) and Ned Washington (lyrics).  In 1940 alone the song was released by, among others, Glenn Miller and His Orchestra (with Ray Eberle on vocals), Kay Kyser, and Paul Weston (Dinah Shore on vocals). Covered many times, one of the most recent was by Norah Jones on her album 'Come Away With Me'.

Note:   With the exception of the instrumental that Jack plays with the band, "Get the Moon Out of Your Eyes". all of the musical numbers have been edited out from the circulating copies.

Note:   The 1940 World Series, the focus of all the betting on this episode, pitted the Cincinnati Reds (or "Cincinattah", as pronounced by the Jell-O gang in this episode) versus the Detroit Tigers.  The series went the full seven games, with Cincinnati taking the title by winning the last game 2-1 on October 8, 1940.

Note:   As pointed out in several newspaper articles appearing prior to the start of the season, the 1940-1941 version of the classic Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud centers around their programs' tenors: former Jack Benny tenor Kenny Baker is now part of the Fred Allen cast.

Note:  As alluded to in this episode, on June 7, 1940, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson was elected "Mayor of Central Avenue".  While this was an honorary title, the area was central to the city's African American population and the mayoral role did come with responsibilities. 

The June 8, 1940 edition of "The Afro American" newspaper noted: "In a close contest, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, following the final count of the ballots, was declared the winner, and the new mayor of Central Avenue here this week. As such, Rochester becomes the "official greeter" on all festival occasions, and will lead parades and delegations in other serious affairs. Six candidates filed for the race for mayor, and finished in the following final order: Rochester (3,376); Eugene Sorral (2,670); Leonard Senters (2,050) Marguerite Carrere, Oscar Smith and L. Bluestein."

The June 8, 1940 Indianapolis Recorder newspaper printed the above paragraph verbatim, but then added this interesting twist to the end of the story:
"The contest, the first sponsored by the L.A. Sentinel, evoked all sorts of concern. It served to divide the townfolk into camps pro and con, almost as bitter as the fight waged by the contestants. Many protested such an election campaign, arguing it was silly, nonsensical, and not productive of any fruitful end".

A section of the book 'The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance' by R.J. Smith (Public Affairs, 2006) deals with the 1940 Mayoral campaign:
 
"Every detail of Rochester's character was scrutinized by the Central Avenue community; that he called his employer not Sir but simply Boss, for instance, was viewed as a step forward---one man speaking directly to another. When he mentioned Central Avenue, which Rochester often did, the neighborhood went wild.....Rochester freely mocked the boss and was free to laugh at his foibles, like Benny's miserliness and vanity. It was this license to speak openly that made Rochester a hero on Central Avenue. 

On May 23, 1940, an advertisement appeared in the California Eagle: "Vote for Eddie "Rochester" Anderson for mayor of Central Avenue in Election Today"
.  The mock election of a black leader had long been a rite on the street. In the ad Rochester vows "If I am elected, I will pave Central Avenue with pancakes and flood it with molasses!" His platform ascends from there. "I believe the people of the Eastside are entitled to the same civil, political and social rights as people of other communities...I believe that our streets should be cleaned, that we should have more efficient police protection, that police officers should be promoted according to ability, not because of race or creed". The ad finishes with "a vote for Rochester is a vote for yourself".....Rochester was a work of fiction stepping into a real political void. He took his campaign more or less seriously, headquartering his effort in the Dunbar Hotel. His main competition was Eugene Sorrell, Exalted Ruler of the Golden West Lodge of the Elks. Rochester's platform promoted the recruitment of blacks into aviation jobs, and after the campaign he continued to advocate the creation of a training school for Negro aviators, even calling for Congress to establish a Negro flying corps. Rochester felt so strongly about the issue, he was taking a flying course himself and lecturing with a representative from the Tuskegee Institute.

....in the end, Rochester won the honorific title of mayor of Central Avenue. Being mayor was not without meaning. It was a safe way to register criticism of police tactics, of the lack of black political representation, of the city's neglect of Central Avenue. Rochester bamboozled Benny on radio and in movies that gave him as much face time as the boss, and then invested his wealth in a parachute company, part of his aviation dream. His symbolism had weight. Still, while his fame grew events were transpiring that would alter the dynamics of black power in Los Angeles. Real leaders were emerging. The smile was turning inside out, and Rochester would be, if not turned out of office, then replaced by leaders who were more than symbols".


 
3.    10/20/40            JACK TRIES TO TRADE IN HIS MAXWELL
 
Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the show with "The Sun Will Be Up in the Morning". 

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being the hottest week of the year in Southern California, we bring you a man who can hardly stand it in his long underwear---Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   This is a recording of the "late" West Coast version of the show.  Jack complains to Don Wilson how busy he is;  he had to do the 4:00pm (PST) broadcast of this show, then do the early broadcast of his guest appearance on the "Screen Guild" program, then do this current "repeat" broadcast of his own show, then the "repeat" version of the "Screen Guild" program...and then MC the opening of a new "Chili Bowl" in Tarzana~!  Then the Benny program skirts the censors with Jack's explanation of how he can do it all:  " I tell you Don, if it wasn't for the vitamin B-1, and the cigarettes that Phil's drummer gives me, I doubt I would be able to go on~!" The line gets a huge laugh from the studio audience.

Jack goes to trade in his Maxwell car for a new 1941 Packard at the Packard dealership.  Although Jack thinks the Maxwell should be worth $700 in trade, the dealer offers him $40.  Jack takes the trade-in....until he hears the dealer say to scrap the Maxwell. Jack gets emotional and can't go through the scrapping of his beloved Maxwell, so he calls the deal off.  A much funnier show than the first two of the season, the show seems to have righted itself from it's brief little slump.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Trade Winds". Written by Cliff Friend and Charlie Tobias, the song was a hit in 1940 in multiple versions including Bing Crosby with Dick McIntyre and his Harmony Hawaiians, Sammy Kaye, and Tommy Dorsey with vocals by Frank Sinatra.
Like many of these early 1940-41 season recordings, it is cut on most (all?) of the circulating tapes. On these shows both the songs by Dennis Day and the musical numbers by the orchestra have been cut, and they're relatively clean edits, mostly, indicating they may have been done at the initial dubbing stage from the original recording. If these recordings were created for Jack, or the sponsors, due to the very limited time constraints of acetate recordings during this era they may have felt they just needed to focus on the scripted portions of the program, and didn't record any of the musical numbers.


 
4.    10/27/40            HOLD THAT LINE

Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the show with "Just Like Taking Candy from a Baby" (the very beginning is cut off).

Don's Introduction:   
Don:   "And now, ladie
s and gentlemen, without further ado, we bring you our modest, unassuming Master of Ceremonies; a man who is never too busy too say hello.."
Jack:   "Hello"
Don:   "...Jack Benny~!"
 
The Show:   Since Mary is out sick this week, Jack wants Dennis to take her place in the show. Dennis protests, but when the "Blue Fairy" (Mary Kelly) offers to take Mary's part Jack says that she can't because she is "too fat". Phil reveals to Jack that he has been going to night school before playing at the Wilshire Bowl.  The big word he's learned is "derogatory".

Then Jack announces that they're going to perform that "gridiron classic"  "Hold That Line or; One Moment, Please". As the cast is short on actors, Jack calls in Rochester to take part in the play, but tells him he'll be playing the water boy. Rochester answers "that's a little bit derogatory, ain't it?"

Dennis announces that, for Navy Day, he's going to sing a "special arrangement" of a brand new number, "He's My Uncle". Unfortunately the entire song is cut from the circulating recording, as is the rest of the music again this week.

The "annual" football play begins with a running joke from week two, by noting that the play takes place in "Puerile, Indiana, which is just three miles north of Banal". Although Coach Benny's team is being crushed, it's revealed that their secret, sensational new player is Shlepperman (Sam Hearn). The Blue Fairy returns to win the game by carrying twenty-one footballs across the goal line, all at once.

The show slips back slightly in quality again this week.  I'm not the world's biggest fan of the Blue Fairy character, nor of the gang's football plays, and the episode as a whole just isn't quite as funny as last week.

Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "He's My Uncle", which, as noted above, is cut from the recording. The patriotic song (the "Uncle" in the title is Uncle Sam) pre-dates America's involvement in World War II by a little over a year. The lyrics were written by Charles Newman, with music by Lew Pollak. The most popular 1940 version was by Victor Young & his Orchestra with Dick Powell on vocals.


 
5.     11/03/40            JACK'S HALLOWEEN PARTY

Orchestra opening: The orchestra opens the program with "Let's Be Buddies".

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, last Thursday evening was Halloween, and Jack celebrated by throwing his annual costume party for the Jell-O gang. So, this evening we will turn back the clock. The time: last Thursday night. The place: Jack's house in Beverly Hills. Take it awayyyyy..."

The Show:   Then we flash back to Thursday night (Halloween) to Jack's annual Halloween costume party at his house. Jack's costume is a hula girl; Dennis is dressed in a Navy uniform; Mary, back on the show after missing last week with a cold, borrows one of Jack's old vaudeville outfits; Don is dressed as a skeleton, and Phil is Julius Caesar. Mary and Phil sing a duet, "You Catch On Quick" (eventually the whole "Jell-O gang" join in).

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Do You Know Why?". Copyrighted in October 1940, the lyrics are by Johnny Burke and music by Jimmy Van Heusen. The initial record was released by Bob Crosby and His Orchestra featuring Bonnie King on vocals, which was followed quickly by Tommy Dorsey with Frank Sinatra. The song is featured in the upcoming Jack Benny-Fred Allen film 'Love Thy Neighbor' (which opens on December 27, 1940).

 
 
6.    11/10/40             DOG CATCHER OF BEVERLY HILLS

Orchestra opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "I Just Want to Be With You"

Don's Introduction:

Don: The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny,with Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, and yours truly, Don Wilson. The orchestra opens the program...
Phil:  "Wait a minute, Don, hold it, hold it.We can't start the show yet".
Don:  "What's the matter?"
Phil:  "Well, Jack isn't here"
Don:  "Well,we're on the air...where is he?"
Dennis:   "I saw him a little while ago..."
Phil:  (interrupting) "Beats me, Don, I haven't seem him"
Don:  "Well he should be here, look what time it is!
Phil:  "Yeah"
Dennis:  "I saw him a little while ago..."
Phil:  (interrupting) "Do you think I ought to go out and look for him, Don? Maybe he's in the drugstore"
Don:   "No, he left there an hour ago...I wonder if anything could have happened..."
Phil:   "Gee, I don't know"
Dennis:   "I saw him a little while ago..."
Phil:  (interrupting)  "Sayyy, maybe he's in the dressing room...you know, he said he was gonna take a nap"
Don:  "Oh, that's right...go see if he's there, will you Phil?"
Phil:   "Okay"
Dennis:   "I saw him a little while ago..."
Phil:   "Here comes Mary, uh, maybe she knows...hello, Mary"
Mary:   "Hiya fellas"
Don:   "Say Mary, have you seen Jack?"
Mary:   "Yes, he's out in the hall talking to Mark Sandrich on the telephone"
Dennis:   "That's what I've been telling you!"
Phil and Don:   "Oh, hello Dennis!"
Dennis:   "Hello, fellas"

The Show:   Jack tries to convince the director Mark Sandrich to world premiere their movie "Love Thy Neighbor" in Jack's hometown of Waukegan, Illinois. Jack is elected Dog Catcher of Beverly Hills.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Blueberry Hill"

Note:   "Love Thy Neighbor", directed by Mark Sandrich and starring Jack Benny and Fred Allen, had it's world premiere on December 17, 1940 in New York City.

 
 
7.    11/17/40            JACK WANTS TO SEE A MOVIE DIRECTOR
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "You Walked By"

Don's Introduction:
 
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to explain why Jack Benny is not here for his customary introduction. As you may remember, Jack has been having a lot of trouble lately with Paramount regarding the premiere of his picture that he recently made with Fred Allen."
Dennis: "Yeah that's right, alright".
Don: "Last week Jack spoke on the telephone to Mark Sandrich, his director, about this matter but got absolutely no satisfaction."
Dennis: "Yeah, he spoke on the phone."
Don: "Then he got in touch with Mr. LeBaron, who is in charge of production at Paramount, and also Mr. Freeman, the head of the studio. But in neither instance was Jack successful in achieving his purpose."
Dennis: "Oooh, it was awful~!"
Don: "Dennis, please, I'm trying to explain something."
Phil: "Say Don, I thought Jack had that premiere all set for Waukegan, what's he beefing about?"
Don: "It's not settled yet, Phil.  In fact Jack is over at Paramount right now trying to sell Mr. Sandrich the idea.  Mary is with him, and...(fades out)

The Show:   Jack can't get any attention in the director's office; everyone else gets ahead of him. Mary Martin is the guest star and sings. (KH).

Dennis' Song:  Dennis appears on the episode but does not sing.

Note:
   I love this episodes' introduction;  Don's use of big words, and the reverence shown to the movie studio executives (all called MR. so-and-so) are interesting, but what makes it truly great is that Dennis' three lines are really quite funny. Sure, on paper they're no so impressive, but Dennis' delivery of them is fantastic.  The "Yeah, he spoke on the phone" is delivered so deadpan that it's particularly  funny. This would become a semi-running gag this season, with Dennis occasionally interrupting Don's introduction; each one is funny.

Note:   In Don's introduction, the "Mr. LeBaron" is the Paramount Pictures movie studio head of production William LeBaron and "Mr. Freeman" is Paramount's top man  Y.Frank Freeman.


 


8.    11/24/40            JACK IS HELD UP ON HIS WAY TO DON'S HOUSE

Orchestra opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Meet the People"

Don's Introduction:
  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as is customary every Sunday night at this time..."
Jack:   "Wait a minute Don, wait a minute...hold everything~! This introduction is on me. All right boys, let's have it (orchestra starts playing "The Wedding March"). Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present the bridegroom of the Jell-O program, Don Wilson!"
 
The Show:    Good quality. Everybody congratulates Don on his recent marriage. Don invites everybody back to his house, but at Jack's suggestion, he doesn't phone home first to see if it is okay with his new bride. After getting home, Don realizes the imposition of the five extra guests. He has them wait outside and one by one calls them to come in. Jack, of course, is last, and before he is called to come in, a thief appears and robs him. Note that this is NOT the famous scene where the thief demands "your money or your life" and Jack replies "I'm thinking it over". (KH).

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Two Dreams Met" (cut on the circulating copies). Mack Gordon wrote the lyrics and Harry Warren the music for this song from the motion picture 'Down Argentine Way' (released October 1940). Among the most popular recordings of the song this year were by Bob Crosby and his Orchestra (vocals by Bonnie King), and Kate Smith.

Note:   Don Wilson married Peggy Ann Kent five days prior to this broadcast, on November 19, 1940.

THE VAULT---VARIETY, November 27, 1940

Jack Benny is coming into New York to try to sell Young & Rubican agency on advantage of doing the repeat (west coast) Jello program via transcription. In other words, Benny wants the Pacific to hear his first broadcast as the rest of the country does. 'Information, Please' is his precedent.
Benny is irked at what he considers a sloppy performance by his company on the re-broadcast. The better the early broadcast the more self-satisfied everybody seems to be, he finds.
Whole Jello gang will be east for three broadcasts and to give writers and Benny a chance to recharge the batteries of inspiration.



 
9.    12/01/40              JACK CATCHES COLD AT DON'S HOUSE

Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the show with "You Say The Sweetest Things".

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I regret to announce that Jack Benny has been confined to his bed for the past week with a severe cold, due to an unfortunate occurrence at my house last Sunday.  It seems that I invited Jack and the rest of the gang over to meet my wife, and while Jack was waiting outside, it started to rain....."

The Show:    Jack is flat on his back, sick in bed with a cold, which he blames on Don Wilson:
Jack:  "If I told the guy once, I told him FIVE times...I said, Don, call up your wife...call her up I said. Let's not barge in on the little woman. But nooo, Peggy's a peach, she won't mind....."

Rochester is Jack's "nurse". He answers the telephone:
Rochester:   "Hello? Yes? He's feeling much better, Mrs. Lamarr"
Jack:   "Well~!"
Rochester:   "Yes ma'am. I'll tell him, Mrs. Lamarr. Thanks for calling"
Jack:   "Hmm, that was sweet. Who was that, Rochester, Hedy Lamar?"
Rochester:   "No, Dorothy"
Jack:   "Oh...you mean Dorothy Lamour"
Rochester: "No, Dorothy Lamar, she's the cook next door".

The Jell-O gang all visit Jack at his house; when Don shows up to apologize to Jack for last week, Jack is still mad at him. They get into an argument, and an angry Don shouts the Jell-O commercial at Jack. Jack: "I'm going to tell the sponsor on him...he yelled about Jell-O~!".

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square". This classic British song debuted in London's 'New Faces Revue' on April 11, 1940, performed by Judy Campbell. It was written by Eric Maschwitz (lyrics) and Manning Sherwin (music), and some of the popular recordings of the song in 1940 were by Ray Noble and Vera Lynn. Frank Sinatra would record a great version in June 1962 for his album 'Great Songs from Great Britain' .

Notes:
  Another funny episode. After starting the season off slowly, writers Morrow and Beloin are back on track the last few shows.  Frank Nelson plays Dr. Leroy, and the always funny boarder Mr. Billingsley appears. Some circulating copies run at a too slow speed.
  At the very beginning of the recording the studio audience is laughing at something  that happens right before the "J-E-L-L----OOOO" jingle.


10.    12/08/40            DON IS MAD AND WALKS OUT

Orchestra opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "You Walked By"

Don's Introduction:

Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to present a man I've been associated with many years, and whom I'm proud to call my friend.
Jack:   "Oh sure, he invites his friend over to his house and leaves his friend standing out in the rain"
Don:   "A man whose generosity and forgiving nature permits him to harbor no grudge against anyone..."
Jack:   "Anyone but you. You don't have to give me that soft soap, I was in bed with a cold for a week"
Don:   "Now Jack, please~! I bring you a man who always..."
Jack:   "A man who, a man who...get it over with, you big fat hypocrite. Well, go ahead..."
Don:   "Jack, if you don't stop interrupting I won't introduce you at all~!"
Jack:   "Well, wouldn't that be a tragedy...I think I'll tie my shoelaces together and hang myself. He won't introduce me, boo hoo hoo..."
Don:   "Aww, nuts~! Goodbye~! {door slam}
 
The Show:    Good quality. Jack gives Don a hard time over last week's episode and the normally jovial Don walks out (KH).

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I'd Know You Anywhere". The song is one of several written by Jimmy McHugh (music) and Johnny Mercer (lyrics) for the Kay Kyser film 'You'll Find Out'. The movie is a horror-mystery-comedy-musical, and was the only time Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Peter Lorre all worked together. In the film the song is performed by Kay Kyser and his Orchestra, with the wonderful Ginny Simms on vocals. Bing Crosby and Tommy Dorsey and his Orchestra (vocals by Frank Sinatra) also released memorable versions in 1940.


 
11.    12/15/40          FROM THE RITZ HOTEL IN NEW YORK---JACK HAS A BODYGUARD
 
Orchestra opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Cheerio"

Don's Introduction:

On Location:   The show is broadcast from the Ritz Hotel New York City, NY.

The Show:    This episode is frequently mislabeled as 04/21/1940, among other dates,  in MP3 sets of Jack Benny programs; the correct opening for this show is, as noted above, the orchestra playing "Cheerio". 

Jack then makes a few jokes at Fred Allen's expense. When Don reminds Jack that he should be careful because Allen does his show in New York, Jack says he's not afraid of Allen, and anyway, he's hired a bodyguard--Killer Hogan ("one of the toughest mugs in New York City"). When Hogan pops in and Jack says "oh, hello Hogan", Hogan answers in an very exaggeratedly effeminate voice "Everything's okay outside, Chief". The audience roars at the joke, and Jack's "gay" bodyguard is a quite funny running gag for the rest of the episode.
(Hogan keeps asking Jack if he should give visitors "the old one-two".)
 
The episode also features a Mary flub: when Don says that he and Mary went to see Ed Wynn's show in New York, Mary says "You should have been there, Jack.  You know Jack, Dan....Don" As the audience cracks up Jack says "That's Don, he's been with us for seven years.."  Later, Jack keeps trying to track down Rochester, who has gone missing since the cast arrived in New York City. After making a few calls, Jack next phones Rochester's "girlfriend", who answers her phone "Susan Brown, the sweetest girl in town talking".  Jack asks if Rochester is there, and she answers that he was there, but left.  When Jack asks if she thinks Rochester will be back, she says "In all modesty, I can guarantee that", which gets a huge laugh from the audience.

The 'elephant in the room' of this episode, so to speak,  is the slightly exaggerated, stereotypical speaking voices given to most of the African-American characters that Jack calls while looking for Rochester. While this segment of the episode wouldn't exactly pass muster if it were broadcast today, one could argue that those character voices are just as exaggerated as, say, Phil Harris' southerner, or "Killer" Hogan's effeminate voice, and that the characters themselves are obviously intelligent, and not belittled in any way.  And of course Jack himself was a fairly outspoken proponent of equal rights and brotherhood, as we'll go into elsewhere on the site. However, is this episode "politically correct" as of 2012? No, and if one were searching for a Jack Benny episode to, say, play on the radio or play for friends, this probably would not be the best episode to pick.

Mayor Mancel "Bide" Talcott of Waukegan, Illinois (Jack's home town) is the guest. Frank Nelson appears again as Doctor Leroy from Hollywood.  This is the "early" broadcast of the program....according to a contemporary newspaper account, by the time of the "late" program, Frank Nelson had fallen ill, and writer Ed Beloin filled in for him as Doctor Leroy. The paper records a pretty horrible set of circumstances surrounding this New York show...Mary Kelly was supposed to appear as the Blue Fairy but had a bad cold, as did Frank Nelson. Don Wilson and two other cast members were grounded in Texas by bad weather, and Mayor Talcott could not arrive until Sunday morning. Frank Nelson recovered enough to perform on the "early" show but not on the "late".  It seems that the "late" broadcast may possibly circulate.  The audio quality for this episode is excellent.  I've also seen this episode titled "Rochester Is Missing".

Guest Star:   Mayor Mancel "Bide" Talcott

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "There I Go". Written by Hy Zaret (lyrics) and Irving Weiser (music), it was released in 1940 by, among others, Vaughn Monroe and Glenn Miller.



12.    12/22/40          ANNUAL CHRISTMAS SHOPPING EPISODE
 
Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Tookie".

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, there being just two more shopping days 'til Christmas, we bring you that fugitive from Gimbels' basement, Jack Benny~!"

On Location: 
The show is broadcast from from the Ritz Theatre in New York City, NY.

The Show:    This is apparently the "late" program, per this bit of dialog from Jack: "That was Jingle Bells played by Phil Harris and his Central Park Troubadours.  Troubadours meaning they are traveling musicians, and Central park meaning they oughta get a room tonight.....that joke went over better the first show. Shows you we should change for the night show".  Rochester finally calls Jack after being missing in New York for two weeks.  Then Jack, Mary and Phil go Christmas shopping.  While shopping at the store Jack and Mary meet their old tenor singer, Kenny Baker.  The final words on the broadcast are: "Merry Christmas...see you Wednesday, Mrs. Benny".

Guest Star:   Kenny Baker

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings a Christmas songs medley of "The First Noel", "Away in a Manger", and "O Come All Ye Faithful".


 
13.    12/29/40          FATHER TIME RIDES AGAIN

Don's Introduction:
 
The Show:   The program returns to Hollywood. Good quality. Dennis is a little vocal in helping Don announce the show. The show cuts to the train returning from New York and Jack trying to trim a tree with makeshift ornaments. Guest star Walter Tetley plays the wisecracking kid. Back in the studio the gang get back in the swing of celebrating the holidays (KH).

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Perfidia". A little mystery surrounds this one. Most sources place the song as being written by Alberto Dominguez in Spanish, with the English version featuring words by Milton Leeds, and place the publishing as 1939.  Xavier Cugat scored a big hit with the song in 1940 as an instrumental,  "Perfidia (Tonight)"; however, sheet music for a 1939 version by Pancho and the Sothwestern Srenade credits the English language lyrics to Xavier Cugat and Will Heagney; and further, a record of the song was released on the Victor label in 1937 by the San Cristobal Marimba Band with vocals by Lupita Palomera.

THE VAULT---MOVIE-RADIO GUIDE (January 4, 1941)

"TRUTH ABOUT THE ALLEN-BENNY BENNY-ALLEN FEUD"

When they brought Benny and Allen together for a film, they got a fight! Here's a true tale of a gag gone wrong.

By Kay Proctor

If ever an innocent bystander picked himself up an unexploded time bomb, it was Paramount studio when it decided to capitalize on the famous Jack Benny-Fred Allen radio feud and make a movie of it called "Love Thy Neighbor".

The studio knew it was in a jam before the ink on the deal was dry. There in its mitts was a mess of TNT, liable to blow everything sky-high at any moment---and nothing for it to do but hang on and hope for the best!

A fine kettle of fish that was, when a million bucks or so of the studio's money was plunked in the pot.

Like the rest of the country, the Paramount bigwigs had accepted the three-year-old Benny-Allen "feud" as an inspired form of American kidding which helped sell pudding, toothpaste and gasoline. Week after week they had listened to Fred hurl barbarous insults at Jack from New York on Wednesday nights and heard Jack answer in kind from Hollywood on Sunday. They pegged it all as good clean fun and darned smart showmanship in both camps.

The truth, therefore, came like a bolt from the blue.

The truth is that the feud started as a gag, but somewhere along the line it got out of hand. Too many of the harpoons, perhaps, hit too close to home. It's still kidding now, but underneath the surface of those sledgehammer wisecracks or stinging jibes it's kidding strictly on the square.

That can be dangerous business, and Paramount knew it before the first day's shooting was finished. By the time the picture was completed everyone had a first-class case of the jitters. A good face was put on it for outsiders, people spoke of the "grand fun" on the sets and the "million laughs a day" everyone had got out of it. But behind closed doors of conference rooms and in private huddles, the words "strain" and "tension" were heard and felt.

That all Hades didn't bust loose instead of the occasional fireworks which enlivened the fifty-six day schedule was a tribute to the personal integrity and good sportsmanship of both Benny and Allen. Each suffered painful wounds, but they liked them in the privacy of their own lairs. Too much was at stake for an open ruckus.

So, at least, is the opinion of Ted Tetzlaff, the drafted referee of the battle. As cameraman on the picture, his was the impartial eye which saw the fight from start to finish and spotted its many nuances. And his was the delicate job of seeing that a fair break was had by all in the finished product and keeping the battlers in camera range.

"For instance", Tetzlaff observed, "Jack always has been notoriously careless about camera angles. As a valuable piece of studio property, he always has assumed we would protect our interests in that respect, in which he was correct. He relies on us utterly to guide him into the best camera breaks and see that no one upstages him. Even with Allen in the same shot with him, he continued to be careless and off guard.

"Allen, on the other hand, definitely was on guard every moment, as a man must be when he lives by his wits. He seemed to feel he was an outsider in enemy territory, and adopted the defensive policy of watchful waiting. I didn't have to tell him to 'cheat' a little (which means turning the face more toward the camera) or warn him about being upstages (which means being forced into the background of a scene.) Someone evidently had done a very thorough coaching job on that subject before he stepped foot inside the studio, and the points remained fresh in his wary mind".

No master mind was needed around Paramount to deduce that Benny and Allen are not the bosom buddies and old college chums the general public thinks them. That became quite apparent from the day Fred arrived in town to start work on the picture. Each was casually polite in his "Good morning, Jack" and "Good morning, Fred", but there all social relationships ended. Not once did they lunch together in the studio commissary or visit in the other's home. Each had his own "clique" on the set and kept to it, Benny usually sitting with his writers, Eddie Beloin and Bill Morrow, and Allen with the two agents he brought with him from New York, Howard Reilly and Walter Batchelor. Unlike the comedy team of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby, who cook up new gags for their pictures by hashing them out together before presenting the idea to the director, Fred and Jack held to their lone-wolf policy. When either had an idea for new material he took it to producer-director Mark Sandrich, who in turn talked it over with the other.

So pointed did the situation become, in fact, that a studio wag one night painted a broad white stripe down the center of the studio street which separated their dressing-rooms. The implication was obvious.

Jack Benny prepared for the beginning of film work with Allen by taking a long vacation in Honolulu, where, according to him, "I was met on my arrival by 27,000 people, which is four fans and two Kanakas more than greeted Shirley Temple. They were lovely to me. They all put leis around my neck. It's bad luck to take a lei off, so I had to carry 27,000 leis around. That sort of dulled my mind, so I think I'll take another rest before going into this picture with Allen."

Which was a mighty fine thing, for---as Jack well knew---once he and Allen were brought together on a single, set the fireworks would begin. And they did. Allen's reaction to the Benny statement about his reception in Honolulu was perfectly in character.

"The only reason that there weren't 27,000 people to meet Benny on his return here", he slurringly remarked, "is because extras cost more in Los Angeles than they do in Honolulu---and and Benny wouldn't put out that kind of dough."

The whole shebang actually started three years ago, when a nine-year old guest on one of Fred's programs played the difficult violin composition called "The Bee". As one of the running gags of his show, Jack had talked a lot about playing "The Bee", but somehow the promised performance never came off.

"Just imagine", Allen ad-libbed into the microphone. "This young man can play a piece perfectly which that Benny can't even attempt after forty years' practise!"

Benny cracked back the following week, and the "feud", which was to grow into a national institution, and ultimately into "Love Thy Neighbor", was on. As the word-war raged and the public's interest mounted, several movie producers saw in it the germ of a picture idea, since Benny was an established picture star and Allen twice had made excursions into the cinema filed.

One of the producers---Mark Sandrich---finally did something about it. He outlined a story, based on the feud itself, in which Benny and Allen would play themselves. Paramount okayed it and gave permission to approach Allen on the deal. Sandrich took the story to New York and showed it to Fred. There he struck his first snag.

Fred liked the story and the idea of co-starring with Jack. But he doesn't like Hollywood and never has made any bones about it. Sandrich pleaded, argued and coaxed. Finally Fred gave in and signed on the dotted line to make the picture in time for a December, 1940 release.

Clear sailing from there on? Not a bit of it! Three giant hurdles remained to be taken.

First, the story itself. Here you had the two top comedians, each famed for a distinctive style of comedy, pitted against each other in a race for laughs. Each would rather have his throat slit than lose that race, and understandably so, since laughs are a comedian's bread and butter. Again, there was the matter of footage on the screen; Fred couldn't be expected to stooge for Jack or vice versa.

The general skeleton of the story was prepared by two of Sandrich's ace writers, Ernest Pagano and Zion Myer. It is a hilarious elaboration of the "feud", with Allen stealing Rochester away from Benny; Benny retaliating by stealing the Merry Macs from Allen's show; a wild brawl which lands them both in jail; a chase in which they both almost drown; and a grand mix-up concerning a Broadway show in which Jack finds himself under contract to Fred. Woven through it is a gay romance in which Benny finds himself in love with Allen's niece, played by Mary Martin.

The skeleton next was dressed with dialog by Jack's own writers, Beloin and Morrow, who prepare all his radio and picture material and are under personal contract to him. Finally it was sent to Allen, who liberally (and with sardonic satisfaction, no doubt) exercised his privilege of rewriting any of his own lines and situations in the story.

How carefully Sandrich mapped his plot is revealed in the final statistics on footage. Benny appears in seven scenes with Allen, eight with Mary Martin, five with Rochester, three with Mary Kelly and six alone or with other members of the cast. Allen;s scene score added up to seven with Benny, seven with Mary Martin and Verree Teasdale, two with Rochester, one with Miss Martin and three alone,two with Miss Martin and three with Mrs Teasdale. Final score, twenty-nine to twenty-eight in favor of Benny.

Second hurdle to be taken was the matter of billing. The public may not give a continental hoot about who gets mentioned first in the ads and on the billboards, but artists and actors get themselves in a terrible stew about it.

The problem was solved in a novel fashion for the title sheet on the screen. Jack's name flashes on first. Immediately Fred's appears above it. Jack's jumps on top of that, then Fred's jumps again. Finally the letters end up in a free-for-all. Cold legal documents, however, were necessary to settle the official billing for newspapers and billboards. Jack's contract with Paramount states his name must be mentioned first, except in the case of a female star of equal importance. Then, gallantly enough, the lady's name may come first. Fred's agreement states he must be co-starred with equal billing but that Benny's name alone may precede his. Thus the official billing will read "Jack Benny and Fred Allen in 'Love Thy Neighbor'.", with the Benny and Allen names in the same size type and the name of the picture in type twenty-five percent larger.

Who was it said the little things are the important things in life? Apparently it's so.


 
14.    01/05/41              CHRISTMAS GIFT EXCHANGE/ROSE BOWL GAME

Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Moon Over Tarzana".

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being the fifth day of January, we bring you a man who is still doing his Christmas shopping...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:    The main portion of the program concerns Mary telling Don what happened at the Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day (Stanford vs. Nebraska).  As we "flashback", Mary, Dennis, and Phil are outside the game waiting for Jack and Gladys Zybisco to arrive with the tickets.  After they go in, Jack goes to get hot dogs for everyone, only to find the hot dog vendor is Shlepperman~!  In a funny little moment, when Jack gets back to their seats with the hot dogs, he asks where Dennis is.  Phil answers "uh, he'll be back in a minute". A slow steady laugh builds to a huge laugh from the studio audience, who obviously have inferred that Dennis had to answer nature's call.  A running gag this episode is that every guy that Jack and Gladys meet knows Gladys...even the football team~! 

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I'm Going to Round Up My Love"


 
15.    01/12/41            JACK IS LATE FOR THE SHOW, WITH NO SCRIPT

Orchestra opening: The orchestra opens the program with "Grounded in Glendale".

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to bring you a man..."
Phil:   "Hold it, hold it Don...Jack isn't here yet"
Don:   "Well, I saw him just a few minutes ago...where is he?"
Mary:   "He just went in the other room to talk to his writers. Oh boy, is Jack burned up"
Phil:   "Well, them two guys get away with murder, they never have a program writ 'til the last minute"
Mary:   "Well, I'm going in to see what's happening. He's always having trouble with his writers"

The Show:    As the program begins, we find out that Jack is late because he is in a room yelling at the show's writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin. They don't have a script ready for the program that's already started (they think it's still Friday). Jack asks that them to write a murder mystery for the show. While Morrow and Beloin work on it, Jack and the cast try to ad-lib the show, to little success. When Jack says that they'll just have to stall until the script is ready, Mary says "Gee, if this was television you could take your teeth out and make like Popeye". The first few pages of the script done, the cast performs "The Murder of Malcolm Smith, or: Although he Wasn't Drafted, He Was Drilled".

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "The Rose of Tralee". The song is a 19th Century Irish ballad, circa 1845, with lyrics by Edward Mordant Spencer and music by Charles William Glover; some sources credit William Mulchinock with writing the song.



 
16.    01/19/41            CITY FOR CONQUEST

Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "On the Road to Pismo Beach".

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that last Monday, a great and well-deserved honor was bestowed upon our illustrious master of ceremonies"
Jack:   "Oh, Don, do you have to tell everything?"
Don:   "For many years now the outstanding stars of Hollywood have been selected to inscribe their footprints in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, as a tribute to their supreme artistry"
Jack:   "Don, Don, please...I'm so flustered"
Don:  "So, without further ado, I bring you the latest celebrity to achieve this great distinction, Jack Benny~!"

The Show:    After the opening segment discussing and kidding around about Jack leaving his footprints in the Hollywood forecourt at Grauman's Chinese Theatre (the theatre is still open in 2014, and it's front sidewalk still features footprints and handprints of many Hollywood celebrities through the years. Jack actually did leave his footprints there this week, as you can see from the picture below this episode description), the cast perform a play, "City for Conquest". Set in New York City, Phil plays Eddie, a musical genius attempting to write a symphony for New York, and Jack is his brother Danny, a truck driver. Mary plays Danny's girl, Peggy. When Eddie needs money to finish his symphony, Danny becomes a prizefighter, "Kid Sampson". Kid Sampson fights champion Dennis "Killer" Day, and Jack gets upset when Dennis "really" punches him at the end of the play.

The "Brooklyn" accents used by Jack and Mary during the play are hilarious.  Overall a very good episode, available in good audio quality.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I Hear A Rhapsody". The song, a hit this year for Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra (vocals by Bob Carroll), and Jimmy Dorsey's Orchestra (with Dinah Shore on vocals), was written by George Fragos, Jack Baker (a.k.a. Jack Wayne Baker Jr.) and Dick Gasparre. Later notable versions of the song include Frank Sinatra's (1952) and John Coltrane's (1957).

Note:  The Movie-Radio Guide noted: "Jack Benny finally has left his impressions in the cement in the forecourt of the Grauman's Chinese Theatre---but the footprints are those of  Rochester's shoes, and Benny gagged further by impressing a miniature fiddle in his honor square" . It is difficult however to see in the picture below any impression of a miniature fiddle.





 
17.    01/26/41            JACK PACKS FOR NEW YORK

Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "You Should Be Set to Music".

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that Jack Benny is at home this evening, where he is packing for a sudden and unexpected trip to New York City. Mary Livingstone is with him. So, without further ado we take you to Jack's home in Beverly Hills. Take it awayy..."

The Show:    A very loose seeming show, with quite a few amusing flubs by Jack, Don, and Rochester.  Jack is at home packing for a sudden trip to New York; he tells Mary he is being considered for a part in a Broadway play. When Mary says she doesn't think Jack would do well on Broadway, Jack makes a flub: "you can jest, Mary, but with a little experience, I may become one of the leading interpretators.....interpretators? What the...if I don't get away from Phil Harris I'll go nuts~!". Dennis sings "It Will All Come Back to Me One Day" and Mr. Billingsley makes a cameo. Then Don Wilson makes a flub: "Well, Jack, here are those ice cream puffs...er, cream puffs that you asked me to bring over.." Rochester also makes a flub, saying that the Maxwell can't pass a "catalog" instead of a Cadillac.

Overall a very funny episode, including the flubs, although the circulating audio quality is pretty terrible, and runs at too slow of a speed.


Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "It All Comes Back to Me Now", written by Hy Zaret, Joan Whitney, and Alex Kramer. The song was a hit in early 1941 for both Ted Weems and His Orchestra (with a great vocal by Perry Como) and Hal Kemp (sung by Bob Allen), and later in the year Gene Krupa would also hit the charts with the song.


 
18.    02/02/41              HERBERT MARSHALL HOSTS THE SHOW

Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "Way Down Yonder in Seattle"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that Jack Benny has not yet returned from his trip to New York City. however he will be back with us next Sunday, and in the meantime..."

Guest Star:   Herbert Marshall

The Show:   Jack is absent from the program this week. Phil interrupts Don's introduction to ask about Jack, and Don tells him that Jack sent a wire that he was delayed in New York by a "big business deal" (Mary: "He's probably sitting in a restaurant waiting for the other guy to pick up the check"). Although Phil Harris tries to host the show, Don tells Phil that Jack arranged to have his place this week taken by Herbert Marshall.

Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "Yours". Adapted from a Spanish song, "Quiereme Mucho", written by Augustin Rodriguez, the English language version features music by Gonzalo Roig and lyrics by Albert Gamse and Jack Scheer. The song, part of a new trend of Spanish-based music, was a big 1941 hit for Jimmy Dorsey and his Orchestra, with a vocal duet by Bob Eberle and Helen O'Connell.

Note: The "Hollywood" column in the February 15, 1941 issue of Movie-Radio Guide noted: "As exclusively promised here, Jack Benny did his disappearing act, and thereby hangs a funny story. The Sunday previous, the Jell-O show led up to an appearance next week by Ronald Colman---but at the last minute Colman got buck ague fright over filling Benny's shoes and suggested Herbert Marshall instead!"



19.    02/09/41              THE SPONSORS LIKE HERBERT MARSHALL

Orchestra opening:    The orchestra opens with "The Emporia Kansas Stomp"

Don's Introduction:
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, after a week's absence from the Jell-O program, let us welcome back our good ol' Master of Ceremonies, Mr. Jack Marshall~!"
Jack: "What?!?"
Don: Jack BENNY, Jack BENNY~!"

Guest Star:   Herbert Marshall

The Show:   The program begins with a "cold opening"; instead of a Jell-O ad or an introduction by Don Wilson, the program begins with Jack, Rochester and Mr. Billingsley driving in Jack's Maxwell on their way to the studio for the program. Jack is worried that Herbert Marshall was too good as the guest host. Rochester gets off some very funny lines in this segment. Finally, four minutes into the broadcast, we get the familiar "J-E-L-L-OOOOO" jingle, Don's cast introduction, the band number, Don's Jell-O commercial, and then Don's introduction.

Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "You Should Be Set to Music". The song comes from the Broadway musical revue "Crazy With the Heat", and was written by Irvin Graham. The revue played from January to April 1941, and popular versions of this song included one by the Michael Loring Orchestra, and another by Tony Pastor and His Orchestra.


 
20.    02/16/41               SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY
 
Orchestra opening:    The orchestra opens with "San Diego Serenade"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, last Friday, the fourteenth, which was Valentine's Day, was also the birthday of our Master of Ceremonies, Jack Benny, who was exactly.."
Jack:   "Yes, sir~!"
Don:   "...years of age. So tonight we would like to re-enact the events which occurred at Jack's house Friday evening. It was about 7:00pm, and a little group consisting of Jack, Mr. Billingsley the boarder, and Mary, who had dropped by to go to a movie, were seated around the dinner table. Let us eavesdrop, shall we...?"

Guest Star:
    
Herbert Marshall is the guest star.

Dennis' Song:      Dennis sings "I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen". Although considered an Irish ballad, the song was actually written in Hendricks County, Indiana in 1875 by Thomas Paine Westendorf, as an "answer song" to the popular ballad "Barney, Take Me Home Again", which was composed by Westendorf's friend George W. Brown (a.k.a. George W. Persley). The song was recorded scores of times over the first half of the 20th Century, including a then-contemporary hit by Frank Connors, and a wonderful 1945 record by Bing Crosby with John Scott Trotter.



 
21.    02/23/41           THE TEE PEE MOTEL
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "When the Midnight Choo-Choo Leaves for Beaumont and Banning"

Don's Introduction:
    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies; toughened by the desert wind, tanned by the desert sun, and frightened by the desert prices...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "Perfidia" again;  please see episode thirteen for song information.


 
22.    03/02/41              CLIMB TO TAQUITZ FALLS
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "I'm Going to El Centro with a Banjo on My Knee"

Don's Introduction: 
Don:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for our second broadcast from Palm Springs, we're going to show you how Jack and all of us have been enjoying our vacation here on the desert. As you remember, last week Jack was living quite a little distance from Palm Springs, at a place called the Tee Pee Motel. But a few days ago he rented a house here in town with a swimming pool"
Dennis:   "Yeah, with a"
Jack:   "Dennis, don't interrupt~! Go ahead, Don"
Don:   "Anyway, last Thursday Jack invited us all over to his pool for a swim. It was a beautiful sunny day and Jack told us to get there early....[fades out]

On Location:
   
The show is broadcast from Palm Springs, California

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "It All Comes Back to Me Now" once more, which seems fitting; please see episode seventeen for song information.

THE VAULT---VARIETY (March 5, 1941)

BENNY'S JELL-O FINALE; HAS 3 NEW BIDS

Report circulating in the trade that Jack Benny has set $25,000 a program as his price for next season was denied Monday by his agent, the A & S Lyons office. Benny and Jell-O (General Foods) will call it quits with the June 1 broadcast, after am association of seven years, and there have already been a couple approaches by other accounts, but without either side going into any detailed discussions. Among those reported as interested are Lever Bros., Campbell Soup and Maxwell House Coffee.

According to the Lyons office Benny is far more interested in finding a good client with the right product and having the latter assent to a certain set of conditions than in hiking up his radio salary. The Lyons office has so far refused to quote any price on Benny's future services, explaining this detail would have to be agreed to in a three-way parley in Hollywood with Benny, the client and the Lyons brothers participating.

Tom Harrington of Young & Rubicam (Jell-O agency) is at Palm Springs, Cal., where Ward Wheelock (Campbell's) has been huddling with Benny. Y&R wants to save Benny for one of its clients.



 
23.    03/09/41              MURDER AT THE RACQUET CLUB
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "The Phil Harris Concerto # 6 for Oboe and Drum"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you may remember, three weeks ago a certain young man came to Palm Springs rundown, anemic and pale"
Jack:   "Oh, I was a wreck"
Don:   "And now, after three weeks on the desert, I bring you that picture of health, that Greek god, that bronze Adonis...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from Palm Springs, California.

Guest Stars:   Guests are Charles Farrell, Charles Butterworth, Peter Lorre, and the Guadalojama Trio.

Dennis' Song:      Dennis sings "Frenesi". Another song in the then-new trend of Latin and Spanish based music, "Frenesi" (Spanish for "Frenzy'), was written by Alberto Dominguez (see episode eighteen) and subsequently adapted into an English jazz standard by Leonard Whitcup. The song proved to be such a huge hit in late 1940 for Artie Shaw (arranged by William Grant), that it became the first million-selling song by a Mexican songwriter, and occupied the number one spot in the Billboard chart for an impressive thirty consecutive weeks.

THE VAULT---VARIETY (March 12, 1941)

JACK BENNY'S LEASE ON 7 P.M.

General Foods to Relinquish Prime Time on Sunday After One More Year of Comedian Under Jell-O Banner--Unique Gesture to Performer
                                         -------------
Unprecedented concessions have been granted to an actor at the peak of his popularity to prevent his going to another advertiser or to another network. The actor is Jack Benny and, under the terms of his renewal with General foods (Jell-o), he captures the privilege of taking his choice Sunday night 7-7:30 pm time with him to his next unselected sponsor a year from next October.

At the same time Benny is given certain layoff privileges to counter-act fatigue and his Pacific Coast rebroadcast will be made by a recording instead of in person. Rebroadcast has long vexed Benny who has felt it was both an added strain and an inferior performance due to a tendency of the cast to relax at the repeat.

Benny agreed to stay on with Jell-O for another year only on the condition that General Foods, which distributes this product, will cede the comic current period on the NBC-red (Sunday 7-7:30 p.m.) to his next sponsor.

As the result of this commitment, a General Foods executive explained Monday, Benny will remain in this spot after the 1941-42 season regardless of whether the Jell-O division elects to continue with him. Jell-O division decided last week that it wanted to carry on with Benny for just another year but Benny refused to consider this proposition until the product came through with the time concession. The Benny act's salary for the coming year remains as is, $17,500 a week.

General Food's decision to yield to the time-control proviso insisted upon by Benny as part of his new contract was transmitted late Saturday night in a telephone call from Young & Rubicam, agency on the Jell-O account, to the A & S Lyons office in Hollywood, which agents the comic. The break came at the end of a hectic week of listening by the Lyons office to offers from other accounts and agencies. The Lyons office, however, did take the precaution of urging the interested agencies not to start revamping their client's budgets so as to take care of a Benny deal until they had received a clear go ahead from the agent.

Ward Wheelock agency, it is reported, was so anxious to line up Benny for Campbell Soup that it got Amos n' Andy to put in a word for it with Benny. Latter, it is said, was assured by the blackface comics that Ward Wheelock himself was a great guy to work for. Others that looked into the availability of Benny were Lever Bros, Procter & Gamble and the Maxwell House Coffee division of General Foods.

Jockeying that went on between Benny, the client (General Foods) and Young & Rubicam before he signed up would have made an interesting theme for one of the comic's scripts. CBS claimed that it had an account for him, and Benny advised General Foods that under the circumstances he would have to accept the Sunday 7 pm spot on that network. Y&R congratulated itself on this turn of affairs, since the switchover of Benny to CBS would indirectly do much to bolster the ratings of three other of its Sunday night shows on CBS, namely the Silver Theatre, the Gulf-Guild show and the Lipton's Tea-Helen Hayes program.

General Foods countered with a statement that it wouldn't let Benny get away with this. It advised Benny that if he did go to Columbia it would move "The Aldrich Family" directly opposite him on the NBC-red (7-7:30 pm). "The Aldrich Family" is now the second highest rating dramatic show on the air. Once Benny and General Foods had exhausted their pawns the chess game was called off and the twosome got down to discussing concessions.

REBROADCAST CONCESSIONS

In signing with Jell-O for another year, effective Oct.5, Jack Benny has also obtained the privilege of not having to make a Sunday night rebroadcast in person. The original broadcast will be taken off the line on the west coast and rebroadcast by record over NBC's Pacific blue link. Benny's regular out is the NBC-red, but the NBC organization refused to budge from its policy against using a transcription over the Pacific red link.



 
24    03/16/41              PALM SPRINGS' PRICES

Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "I See the Moon at Noon"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, after a month's vacation in Palm Springs, we bring you a man who looks a month younger...as if that made any difference...Jack Benny~!"

Dennis' Song:      Dennis sings "In Dublin's Fair City", in honor of the next day being St. Patrick's Day. The song, also known as "Molly Malone" or "Cockles and Mussels" dates back to at least the 1880s;  one version was published in 1883 in America; another version was published in London in 1884, credited to James Yorkston and Edmund Forman.



25.   03/23/41             TOBACCO ROAD

Orchestra opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Goodbye Broadway, Hello Figueroa Street"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that I bring you a man with whom I have been associated for many years. A man whose friendship and...
Jack:   "Hold it, Don, hold it. We have a long play to do tonight, so you needn't bother with the introductions"
Don:   "But Jack, I had a very special reason for wanting to talk--"
Jack:   [interrupting] Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking...and Don, I'm sorry I had to rush you like that, but as I said we're doing a very important play tonight, Tobacco Road, and I'm anxious to get into it. Did the rest of the gang get here yet? [silence] Don...did the rest of the gang get here yet?
Don:   "Who cares...."
Jack:   "What's the matter with you? I simply asked if the gang got here yet"
Don:   "Well, if they mean more to you than I do, I'd like to tender my resignation"
Jack:   "What are you talking about?"
Don:   "Well, just this: the reason I wanted to introduce you tonight was because I wanted to tie it in with my eighth anniversary"
Jack:   "Your eighth anniversary?"
Don:   "Yes, I've been on this program eight years tonight. And the LEAST you could have done is acknowledge it"
Jack:   "Ohhh, so that's it. Well, gee whiz, congratulations, Don, and many happy returns of the day..."
Don:   [dejectedly] "...thanks..."
Jack:   "Well, whaddaya know, it's your anniversary. I'm sorry it slipped my mind. Say, I wonder what happened to the rest of the gang?"
Don:   "[dejectedly]  "...slipped his mind..."
Jack:   "What?"
Don:   "That's fine treatment. After I've worked and slaved and given you the best years of my life..."
Jack:   "The best years of your life?! For heaven's sake, Don, we're not married...jeepers, you'd think I was the husband and you were the little woman. Now, please, don't be unreasonable"
Don:   "I don't think it's unreasonable to talk about my anniversary"
Jack:   "All right, let's talk about it. So you've been with me eight years, Donzy?"
Don:   "Well.....if you hate me, come right out and say so"
Jack:   "Now look, Wilson, if you're going to act like a baby, I'm going to put you over my knee and change your options. Now, pull your lips in and behave, And stop laughing when you're supposed to be mad".
{{introduction continues directly into the show}}

Dennis' Song:     Dennis appears on the program but does not sing

Note:   This episode features a long, and funny, introduction with no clear, defining end; it just segues into the episode. The program did this occasionally. This one is quite funny, with the petulant Don Wilson's delivery of "if you hate me, come right out and say so" being particularly good.

Note:   Jack messes up the closing tag a wee bit:

Jack:   "This is the last number of the twenty-fifth program of the current Jell-O series, and we will be with you again next Sunday night at the same damn.
Mary:   "Say Jack..."
Jack:   "What'd I say, the same damn?"
Mary:   "You certainly did"
Jack:   "...be with you next Sunday night at the same TIME".


 
26.    03/30/41             JACK WORKS IN HIS GARDEN

Orchestra opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Way Down Upon the Los Angeles River"

Don's Introduction:   
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, spring has come to Southern California. Birds are twittering from the treetops, buds are bursting on the branches, all of nature is in tune"
Dennis:   "Yeah, twittering"
Jack:  "Dennis~! Good ahead, Don"
Don:   "So without further ado, we'd like to show you how a typical gentleman farmer is heralding the arrival of spring. The time: early this afternoon. The scene: Jack Benny's back yard. The farmer...Jack Benny~!"

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "High on a Windy Hill", which was the first collaboration by the songwriting team of Alex J. Kramer and Joan Whitney-Kramer (also see episode seventeen). The song was a big 1941 hit for Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra, with a vocal by Ray Eberle.


27.    04/06/41             QUIZ KIDS VS. JELLO KIDS
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "Silver Threads Among the Brass Section"

Don's Introduction:   "And now ladies and gentlemen we bring you our Master of Ceremonies, who has just returned from a quick trip to Chicago....Jack Benny~!"

Guest Stars:   Guests are the Quiz Kids, from the radio show---Richard Williams, Gerrard Darrow, Claude Brenner, and Joan Bishop.

Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "Two Hearts That Pass in the Night", lyrics by Forman Brown and music by Ernesto Lecuona. The song originates with the revue "The Tivoli 1943 Folies Bergere".
The song was quite popular in 1941, with versions by Charlie Spivak, Kate Smith, and Guy Lombardo, among others. Another very nice rendition was performed by Bing Crosby for both the April 17  and the May 1 1941 broadcasts of his radio program, with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra.

Note:   From the April 9, 1941 edition of Variety:
"Jack Benny had one of the funniest shows Sunday night in many weeks, with four Alka-Seltzer Quiz Kids from Chicago as his special guests for the occasion. Program was patterned as a contest between the moppets and the Jello Kids, consisting of Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day and Don Wilson. Seriousness was strictly taboo, however, with the youngsters answering genuinely tough questions and the grownups floundering on the most palpable kind of setups---all obviously rehearsed but still goofy enough to break up the urchins several times.

THE VAULT---MOVE-RADIO GUIDE (April 12, 1941)

[under a photograph of Jack Benny signing his contract]
It is by now anybody's story that Jack Benny has signed with his Jell-O sponsor for another season. What is not generally known---and what is disclosed by MOVIE-RADIO GUIDE here---is the amazing nature of Jack's new contract. His signing of it, above, made radio history. For the 1941-42 season it provides for the usual period of thirty-nine weeks at the same salary, a package-show price of $20,000 a week. Benny himself will be heard on thirty-five of the thirty-nine broadcasts. Then follows the unique---and history-making---clause. For 1942-1943, according to the contract, the thirty-minute period on NBC---his spot since 1934---will belong to Benny, regardless of who is his sponsor or even if he decides to go sustaining. Such a deal has never before been made with any star, probably will not be made again soon. What the clause's final effect will be only time and Mr. Benny can decide. It boils down to this: Mr. Benny has obtained a very personal option on radio's choicest half-hour for the entire 1942 season, and whether he'll sell it and himself to Jell-O again or to a new sponsor or dispense with a sponsor, he alone may say. Of course, this strange power Mr. Benny has over the radio bigwigs is about as strange as rain in April. With an audience of approximately fifty million listeners---largest of any personality in radio with the possible exception of President Roosevelt---the radio comedian can sit back and write his own ticket. Doubtless those fifty million listeners are happy to see their comedian's ability recognized, but their biggest interest in this exclusive picture of Jack actually signing his new contract is the assurance it gives them of hearing him on his usual Sunday show for another year---and still another. That's what pleases Mr. Benny, too.



 
 
28.    04/13/41           JACK PREPARES FOR AN APPEARANCE ON "THE QUIZ KIDS"
 
Orchestra opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Wyoming, Why Do You Start with W?"

Don's Introduction: 
Don:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, once again I bring you our Master of Ceremonies. A man who, last Sunday night, refereed that famous battle of wits between the Quiz Kids of Chicago and the Jell-O kids..."
Phil:   "Hold it Don, hold it. Mary just called up and said that Jackson won't be here tonight"
Don:   "Well why not?"
Phil:   "Well, he's worried to death about his appearance on that Quiz Kids show next Wednesday night. He's at home studying so he can be as smart as they are"
Dennis:   "He should live so long"
Phil:   "You said it, Dennis. You know, them kids is mental giants. Why, even I would be afraid to go on their program. No kidding..."
Don:   "Well, Jack is taking this pretty seriously. I understand he even had Mary over at his house all day yesterday, asking him questions. That's all that's on his mind, the Quiz Kids. [stars to fade out] Questions, answers, questions, answers..."

Guest Stars:   Guests are the Quiz Kids again---Richard Williams, Gerrard Darrow and Claude Brenner

Dennis' Song:     Dennis appears on the episode but does not sing


 
29.    04/20/41            JACK IS UPSET ABOUT HIS APPEARANCE ON "THE QUIZ KIDS"
 
Orchestra opening:      The orchestra opens the program with "The Vine Street Viggle"

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, at this time we bring you one of the most brilliant minds in America today. A man whose meek and humble appearance conceals the brain of a genius. A man who appeared on The Quiz Kids program Wednesday night and didn't know the Taj Mahal from the Empire State Building...Jack Benny~!"

Guest Stars:   The Quiz Kids guest again---Richard, Gerrard, and Claude

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "Once Upon a Summertime", written by Jack Brooks (music) and Norman Berens (lyrics), from the film of the same name released in July 1941 (and not to be confused with the 1958 song of the same title written by Johnny Mercer). The film performance was by Skinnay Ennis and His Orchestra.

Note:   The program features a "cold opening"; the opening "J-E-L-L-OOOO" jingle doesn't come until 2:34 into the episode.



30.    04/27/41            MURDER AT THE MOVIES
 
Orchestra opening: The orchestra opens with "I'm Building a Palace for Alice in Dallas". 

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as there are only five more weeks left in the current Jell-O series, at this time I would like to pay tribute to a man who, for the past thirty weeks, has brought joy and happiness into millions of American homes"
Jack:   "Well, what's this?
Don:   "A man whose wit, charm, and personality have endeared him to the hearts of his public"
Jack:   "Something fishy going on here..."
Don:   "A man who, every year at this time, renews the contracts of myself and the other members of the Jell-O camp..."
Jack:   "Oh hohhhh..."
Don:   "...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:    After Don gives Jack an uncharacteristically flattering introduction, it is revealed that it is once again time to renew the cast's contracts.  Don reports the "little woman" is unhappy with his salary of $2.00 a pound, Mary balks about the clause requiring her to mend Jack's socks, and Phil begrudgingly agrees to keep a 3am bedtime.  The contracts and Jack's former job as a tailor will be recurring gags throughout the program.
 
The Benny "if you like us tell your friends even though you'll lose them" Players present "Murder at the Movies" (or "No Croaking on The Main Floor", or "He Took the Count at the Paramount".)  This crime drama spoof stars Jack as the Police Captain, Don as the Sargent, Mary as the Ticket Seller, Dennis as the Ticket Taker, and Phil as himself.  Pulling up to the Paramount Theatre, Jack says "Look at the marquee---Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in 'The Road to Zanzibar', and Phil Harris on the road to any bar!"
 
Rochester calls in and reports that his lawyers disapprove of Rochester's contract. Jack seeks to reassure Rochester:

Jack: "Rochester, you've got nothing to worry bout. I'm giving you a substantial raise next year"
Rochester: "Substantial?"
Jack: "Yes. You know what the word means, don't you?"
Rochester: "I ain't illiterate, I'm skeptical!"
 
Reference is also made to the missing gas man, whom Rochester is convinced was consumed by Carmichael the Polar Bear.
 
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy)" (the sound quality on my copy of the show dropped considerably midway through this song and remained poor through the program's conclusion). T Like quite a few of the songs that Dennis has sung lately, this  was originally written in Spanish. The Spanish version debuted in 1924 and was written by Jose Maria Lacalle Garcia. The English version featured lyrics by Albert Gamse, and was a early 1941 hit for Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra (with vocals by Bob Eberly and Helen O'Connell). Benny Goodman and Les Brown also released versions of the song in 1941.

Note:  Don closes the show with an offer for a "handsomely illustrated" 48 page book boasting 365 Jell-O recipes and suggestions, available for a mere "ten cents in coin or stamp" sent to Don Wilson c/o General Foods, Battle Creek Michigan (GRP)



 
31.    05/04/41              JACK'S 10th ANNIVERSARY IN RADIO
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her, Now That I'm Drafted?"

Don's Introduction:
   "That was 'I Wonder Who's Kissing Her, Now That I've Moved to Glendale', played by the orchestra. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pride and pleasure that I present to you a man who, next Friday May the Ninth, celebrates his tenth anniversary in radio...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   This episode, and the following, are often confused with one another in logs and on some  program and MP3 lists.  See the next episode for more information; the opening song for this episode is the song as noted above.

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "My Sister and I", the third song sung by Dennis in recent weeks that was written by the team of Hy Zaret, Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney-Kramer. The song was a big hit in the summer of 1941 for Jimmy Dorsey; in fact it was his follow-up single to "Amapola (Pretty Little Poppy"), sung last week by Dennis. According to the sheet music, the song was inspired by the then-best selling book "My Sister and I" by Dirk Van Der Heide, concerning the 1940 German invasion of Holland.

Note:   Don changes the name of the opening orchestra number in his introduction. I'm sure this has nothing to do with the change, but I've always felt that "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now That I'm Drafted" was a wee bit...insensitive, even four months before the U.S. entered WWII.


 
32.    05/11/41            NBC TRIBUTE TO JACK BENNY'S 10th ANNIVERSARY
 
Orchestra opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Brown Eyes, Why Are You So Close To My Nose?"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you one of Hollywood's most versatile movie stars, whose new picture has just gone into production. An actor whose roles extend from leading man in 'Love Thy Neighbor', to leading lady in 'Charly's Aunt'...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   As written in the NBC Program analysis cards: "On tonight's program, part of the program was devoted to 'The Life of Jack Benny', which had been done at the dinner given for him in connection with his 10th anniversary in radio--with Ken Carpenter as narrator, Gordon Jenkins' orchestra, and actors.
 
Note:   This program, the preceding program, and an un-broadcast but circulating "NBC Tribute to Jack Benny's Tenth Anniversary"  aka "Testimonial on Tenth Anniversary" that took place on May 09, 1941, are frequently confused with one another.  As noted above, the opening of the May 04, 1941 program is the orchestra playing "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now That I'm Drafted".  This episode begins with the orchestra playing "Brown Eyes, Why Are You So Close To My Nose".  And just to confuse things a little more,  the "NBC Tribute/Testimonial on Tenth Anniversary", a one hour and forty-five minute "not for broadcast" version from May 09, 1941, opens with the singing of the National Anthem. Jack also took part in the May 04, 1941 broadcast of "Behind The Mic", offering a behind-the-scenes look at his program.

Dennis' Song:     Dennis appears on the episode but does not sing.




. 
33.    05/18/41            CHARLEY'S AUNT
 
Orchestra opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "The Knot Was Tied In Ensenotta"

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as we mentioned last week, Jack Benny has started production on his new picture, 'Charly's Aunt', in which he masquerades as a woman.  So without further ado, let us eavesdrop on Jack's dressing room, at Twentieth Century Fox Studios, where he is getting ready to go on the set.  Take it awayyyyy..."

Guest Stars:   Guests are Kay Francis, and director Archie Mayo.

Dennis' Song:      Dennis appears on the episode but does not sing.

Note:   Often variously (mis) spelled "Charlie's",  including by yours truly,  "Charley's Aunt" is the correct spelling of the 1892 play by Brandon Thomas, and the various movie adaptations.


 
34.    05/25/41            THE LIFE OF PHILBERT HARRIS
 
Orchestra opening:  The orchestra opens the show with "Beat Me Daddy, with a Pickled Beet".  

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the next to the final broadcast of the season, we bring you a man who came to you last October fresh as a daisy...and is now standing here faded as a fuchsia...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   Jack complains about his writers, Corn and Pone:

"A fine team. I bought 'em a typewriter the other day and they did a Maypole dance with the ribbon".  In response to Don's questioning whether they are professional writers, Jack: "I met them in a drugstore in New York. One of them used to demonstrate hair tonic. And the other one drank it."
 
Jack's such an exhausted wreck after 30-plus weeks of broadcasts that he mistakenly refers to Dennis as Kenny Baker, bruising the ego of the fragile tenor.  "The Life of Philbert Harris" is a lulu of a playlet credited to Don Wilson. Phil objects, but Jack and Don insist the play is in no way based on Phil's personal life.  Jack and Mary play orchestra leader Philbert and his wife, "Alyce", and hilariously spoof Phil's bombastic style.  Don gets into the act as well, imitating Phil in his Jell-O commercial.
 
With the season drawing to a close, the conversation turns to summer vacations. Jack: "I'm gonna rough it. I'm going to a little place in the High Sierras called Eagle Nook Lodge, and just fish my head off...just give me a mountain stream and a fishing rod and brother, those trout better watch out."  Mary : "Oh, sure".  Jack: "You wait and see".  Mary: "you couldn't catch a herring in Lindy's with Abe Lyman for bait".
 
Jack plugs the summer replacement series, "Reg'lar Fellas", based on Gene Byrnes' 1917-1949 syndicated comic strip.
 
Rochester calls in with concerns about the summer plans of their eccentric boarder Mr. Billingsley.
 
The final few minutes of the program turn serious as Jack welcomes a "distinguished guest", Thomas E. Dewey, then Manhattan District Attorney as well as National Campaign Chairman for the USO. Dewey banters (rather stiffly) with Jack while promoting the June 5, 1941 kickoff of a nationwide fundraising campaign to raise $10 million to finance the operation of USO centers.  Jack closes the segment by declaring "I'm sure everyone realizes that taking care of our boys is our job.  And I assure you we Americans will do it". (Thomas Dewey went on to serve as governor of New York from 1943-1954 and ran unsuccessfully for president in 1944 and 1948).  (entry by GRP)

Dennis' Song:  
Dennis sings "You and I" (composed by Robert Meredith Willson). The song was written as the theme song for the Maxwell House Coffee Time radio program, but became a big hit song in 1941 for Bing Crosby, Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, Ray Heatherton, and Glenn Miller, among others. Willson would go on to write the music for the beloved musical The Music Man.

The requirement for a new theme for Maxwell House Coffee Time radio program was necessitated by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) strike that we have mentioned previously. Unable to broadcast any music owned by ASCAP, radio turned to public domain folk songs and material such as older Stephen Foster tunes. To replace the existing ASCAP-owned Maxwell House theme song, "Always and Always", producers turned to Willson, who had already written a few radio themes. Originally an instrumental simply titled "Maxwell House Coffee Time Theme", after receiving lyrics it was renamed "You And I", and became a number one hit for nineteen weeks in 1941.


 
35.    06/01/41               FROM SAN DIEGO NAVAL BASE            
 
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Coronado Corn"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the Naval Training Center in San Diego, we bring you a man who was so proud of his career in the Navy, he had an anchor tattooed on the sleeve of his underwear...Jack Benny~!"

Note:  The opening is missing on my c
opy, and seemingly all circulating copies, of this episode.   The last show before summer vacation. "Reg'lar Fellers" is the summer replacement show.

Note:  Some circulating copies with this date are actually a mislabeled March 30, 1952.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "'Til Reveille", written by Stanley Cowan and Bobby Worth. The song was another of the military songs becoming increasingly popular in the lead-up to America's entry into World War II.  Versions by Kay Kyser and a wonderful rendition by Bing Crosby were particularly popular.




Note:   The following pages are taken from the special Jack Benny Tenth Anniversary section of the April 30, 1941 edition of VARIETY. Scans courtesy of Don Tamblyn.