THE 1941-1942 SEASON
Another "status quo" return from the summer vacation, with all of the regular cast members (Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Phil Harris, Dennis Day and Don Wilson) returning, and the program's writers Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow also coming back. The show finished fifth overall in the Hooper ratings for the year, which is a pretty significant drop from 1940-41's first place finish.  The year-end Hooper rating is 31.0. The sponsor remains Jell-O, although this will be their last year with the Jack Benny program; the following season General Foods would switch their sponsorship from their Jell-O product to their Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes cereal. Even seventy years later, however, Benny's name st
The season begins with two broadcasts on location from New York. Notable broadcasts for the 1941-1942 season include an all-music episode on January 18, 1942 after actress Carole Lombard died in a plane crash (Jack had just co-starred with Lombard in the wonderful To Be Or Not To Be film, which had not yet been released and was in post-production at that point), and the December 7, 1941 episode, which featured breaking news updates regarding that day's Pearl Harbor attack. The USA would enter World War II the next day, December 8, 1941, and gradually the focus of the Jack Benny program began to change, as they begin to travel to broadcast episodes on location from Army Depots and other such military locations. The final program of the 1941-1942 season is a retrospective of the last eight years of Jell-O sponsorship.

{latest revision: October 27, 2014}
1.    10/05/41           FROM NEW YORK
Don's Introduction:   {approx seven minutes into the program} "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time this season we bring you our Master of Ceremonies. A man who has missed you as much as you have missed him...or have you?...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:   The show is broadcast from the Ritz Theater in Manhattan, New York

The Show:   The season opener begins with a "cold open", with no opening jingle or show identification, a few minutes before show time, with Jack trying to remember how to say "Jell-O again" now that summer vacation is over. Mary enters and is sarcastic about the program being funny, and Don asks Jack if he still has the same two writers as last season. Jack: "You mean Scum and Abner? Yes, they're still with me".  Jack tells Mary that he is nervous before the season opener, which Mary thinks is ridiculous:

Jack:   "I'll tell you one thing, Mary, nervousness is a sign of temperament. It proves that I'm a great artist. Eh, Don?"
Don:   "Yes, Jack, you certainly are"
Jack:   "Yep"
Mary:  "What that fat guy won't say for money"

Dennis enters practicing his song, but Jacks asks him to practice somewhere else, since he is nervous. Jack asks Dennis if he is nervous before the first show after vacation:

Dennis:  "No, I'm happy~! It'll be fun to start eating again"
Jack:  "What? Why...why...Dennis, you poor kid...if you needed money for food this summer, why...why didn't you come to Uncle Jack?"
Dennis:  "Uncle Jack's rates are too high~!"

Mr. Mortimer, from the sponsor Jell-O, shows up right before showtime, which serves to make Jack even more nervous. Then, six minutes and forty-three seconds into the program, we finally get the opening "J-E-L-L-OOOO" jingle, followed by Don's introduction. Don tells Jack that he lost eight lbs on a diet over the summer, and Mary refuses to say a joke about the Brooklyn Dodgers, believing that it is just too corny. Jack wants Mary to leave it in...until Mr. Mortimer wants the joke cut, whereupon Jack tells Mary to "take it out, take it out~!"  After the show begins Mary almost begins the joke but Jack stops her by whispering that Mr. Mortimer is in the front row. Mary says that it's okay because he's asleep.

   The October 6, 1941 edition of the Milwaukee Journal newspaper reviewed the episode:

"Jack Benny returned to the air Sunday night and scored a bulls-eye. He opened with seven minutes of a "rehearsal" scene that was as amusing as anything he's done on the air. In that fashion, he was able to introduce his stars, have them pull vacation gags, and set the scene for the year ahead. Only "thud" on the show was Dennis Day's use of "Yes, please", a stock gag which seems to have run it's course. It failed to get a single snicker...Best gag was Benny's line about hefty Don Wilson, who claimed he had lost eight pounds during the summer. 'Eight pounds off you', said Jack, 'is like releasing a homing pigeon. Look in the back yard, and there it is'".

Review:   The October 7, 1941 issue of Variety also reviewed the season premiere, a bit more in-depth;

"There has been a growing tendency in the Jack Benny program to represent the star unattractively. In the name of comedy the program has made sport of his supposed stinginess, his fancied prowess as a lady killer. Good comedy results have undoubtedly flowed from these attitudes which have long since become standardized, but, which if now exaggerated may easily become stale. Insofar as making Benny seem a fool or as a has-been as  a valid comedy formula and a divedends-producuing characterization, it is certainly as clear as Benny's diction that nobody in authority is going to quibble with $ucce$$, if you get the idea.
   However, for the first broadcast of the 1941-42 series, the willingness to sappify a once-sophisticated funnyman was carried to what is probably a new peak. An entire sequence was based on Benny's purported blindness without his glasses which he had left behind him in Hollywood. He was led by the hand into Ebbett's Field to attend, but not see, the World's Series. A whole string of gags based on his physical helplessness without his glasses followed, the climax being a foul ball which beaned him.
   Perhaps it was funny to most people. But surely not to all. Surely not to the thousands who have various infirmities. And what price plot 'sympathy' for Benny? To josh a man about his toupee is one thing. That is vanity. But is not optical blackout, even temporarily, a genuine tragedy? However far-fetched the professional anything-for-a-laugh thinker-uppers of gags may consider such a point, there does not seem reason to believe that in this case hokum came awfully close to the suicide of a formula.
   Maybe the whole subject of expecting that one comedy vein---Benny's personal idiosyncrasies-to pay off, decade after decade, will have to be brought up for a conference sooner or later, anyhow. There are suggestions it's pretty frayed.
   The first broadcast was not, on the whole, a polished sample of a glistening Benny script. There were clear hints of gagging in the medical sense signifying strain. The opening sequence which was represented as the last few minutes just before going on the air was self-conscious stuff. It was a novelty that had been heard before.
   In due course the various Benny helpmates were introduced. Phil Harris was represented as a ga-ga newlywed; Rochester as in a crap game jam up in Harlem; Dennis Day as happy to resume eating; Mary Livingstone as the girl with the crack that crushes. It was intermittently socko, occasionally slumpo. The pace that covers up comedy liberties was partly absent. Nobody better than Benny understands the meaning of that terrific momentum that lifts up and carries forward on a tide of comicality everybody and everything. It is the job and genius of Benny to get this tide washing in on schedule every Sunday night.
   These remarks merely emphasize the hazards and difficulties of a killing pace. Benny has had remarkably few bumpy programs year after year, but it is perhaps odd that several of them have been his opening nights".
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.

2.    10/12/41         COLUMBUS DAY
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "What'll We Do?"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "Ladies and gentlemen, exactly 449 years ago today, Christopher Columbus first set foot in the new world, after a perilous ocean voyage of 40 days and 40 nights"
Jack:   "Oy, what a trip. I wish I'd a been there"
Don:   "Columbus and his band of adventurers were tossed around in the storm-churned Atlantic, little knowing that they'd come through alive"
Jack:   "Raise that mainsail...we'll make it, fellas"
Don:   "And now, we bring you a man who gets seasick when the crackers bounce around in his oyster stew....Jack Benny~!"

On Location:   Program from New York.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Time Was"

3.    10/19/41         RETURNING TO HOLLYWOOD  (aka "TRAIN TO L.A.")

Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens with "A Romantic Guy, I"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this evening we would like to re-enact for you the events which occurred in our recent trip from New York to Hollywood. As you all know, we did our last show from New York City. And the following day the whole Jell-O gang left for the coast. Jack had to check out of his hotel, the swank Hamster House on Central Park South, so he said he might be just a little late getting to the station"

The Show:    Don's introduction fades into Jack and Rochester checking out of the hotel in which they'd been staying for three weeks. Frank Nelson plays the hotel's desk clerk, who hands Jack the bill: "Here it is, Mr. Benny---and please don't cause a scene". (Jack's room was $12.50 a day for 21 days). Jack disputes the charge for $68 for phone calls to Birmingham, Alabama, while Rochester suddenly tries to hurry Jack up out of there, while Mary is cracking up:

Jack: "Hey, what's this? $68 for phone calls to Birmingham, Alabama? I never called Birmingham~!"
Rochester: "They're waiting for us at the station, Boss~!"
Jack: "Why, I don't even KNOW anybody in Birmingham~!"
Rochester: "Toot toot~! We don't wanna miss that train~!"
Jack: "$68~! What is this?"
Rochester: "Come on, let's go, let's go~!"

Meanwhile Don, Don's wife Peggy, and Dennis are waiting at the train station for Jack , Mary and Rochester to meet them for the train to Chicago. Peggy Wilson is mad at Jack for making her and Don share a small upper berth, while Phil and Alice are already waiting on the train. After an orchestra number, we pick them up two days out of Chicago, in New Mexico. Jack admires the scenery, but notices Dennis is tired; Dennis has been sharing a berth with Jack and hasn't slept all trip due to Jack's constant snoring. Dennis says he hasn't slept in two days, and Jack replies that sleep is over-rated and that Thomas Edison only needed 5 hours of sleep a night. Dennis' reply gets a huge laugh:

Dennis:   "Yeah, but he was inventing something~!  I just gotta lay there and listen~!"

Dennis' Song:   Dennis appears on the episode but doesn't sing.

4.     10/26/41        DIVE BOMBER
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Are You Ready?"

Don's Introduction:
Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know next Friday, October 31st, is Halloween. And will be celebrated by gay parties throughout the land"
Jack:  "Yes, sir, we'll play games and everything"
Don:  "So tonight we bring you a man who always loses his bridge bobbing for apples...Jack Benny~!"

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I Don't Want To Set the World on Fire".

5.    11/02/41            HALLOWEEN CELEBRATION
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Mama"

Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, at this time we would like to turn the clock back to last Friday night, and show you what happened when Jack and the rest of our gang went out and celebrated Halloween. The time: 7:30 Friday evening. The place: Jack Benny's house in Beverly Hills. Take it awayyyy...."
Guest Star:   Basil Rathbone is the guest for this Halloween episode.

Dennis' Song:     Dennis sings "I Know Why"

6.    11/09/41            FOOTBALL GAME
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Free for All"

Don's Introduction:
Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our versatile master of ceremonies, who started work this week on a new motion picture"
Jack:   "Yes, sir"
Don:  "A man who is as much at home in front of a camera as he is in front of a microphone"
Jack:  "Like you say, I'm versatile..."
Don:  "A man who has a profile like John Barrymore...and have you seen HIM lately?...Jack Benny~!"

Guest Star:   Leo Durocher
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Carry Me Back to the Lone Prairie"

7.     11/16/41          HE FUMBLED THE BALL

Orchestra Opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "Jump for Joy"

Don's Introduction:
Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, next Thursday is Thanksgiving, and no doubt most of you will have turkey for dinner"
Jack:  "That's right..."
Don:  "So this evening, without further ado, we bring you a chestnut for your dressing...Jack Benny~!"

Dennis' Song:
   Dennis sings "The Shepherd's Serenade".

8.    11/23/41           THANKSGIVING DAY DINNER
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "One on the House"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to take you back three days and show you how Jack Benny entertained the gang on Thanksgiving. The time: 2:00pm last Thursday. The scene: the kitchen of Jack's home in Beverly Hills, where we find Jack, Mary and Rochester preparing the dinner. Take it awayyyy..."

Guest Star:        Alice Faye
Dennis' Song:    Dennis appears on the episode but doesn't sing.

9.     11/30/41             DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE 
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Be Young Again"
Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, there being only twenty four shopping days 'til Christmas, we bring you that twenty four karat comedian with a heart of gold...Jack Benny~!"
Guest Star:  Old pal and ex-semi-regular cast member Andy Devine guest stars

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Magnolias in the Moonlight".

Opening Special News Announcement:    "We will interrupt all programs to give you latest news bulletins. Stay tuned to this station"

Orchestra Opening:
    The orchestra opens the program with "A Gay Ranchero"

Don's Introduction:  
Don: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my very great honor to bring you a man who, last Sunday on this program, gave what was undoubtedly the finest performance of his acting career. "
Jack: "That's right, Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde".
Don:  "So, without further ado, I give you the only actor in America who can make Jekyl and Hyde sound like Brenda and Cobina....Jack Benny~!"

The Show:    Don says that he didn't think that Jack's performance last week as Jekyl and Hyde was as good as Spencer Tracy's recent movie version. Mary arrives and also criticizes Jack's performance (surprise~!), so Jack gets mad at both of them. Jack reminds Mary that it's only 18 days until Christmas, and the he could exchange the present he already bought her for something cheaper:

Mary:   "Something cheaper?"
Jack:    "Yes"
Mary:  "They don't dig a bargain basement that cheap"
Jack:   "Well, you've worked in more of 'em that I did~!"

Mary's line gets a nice laugh from the audience but Jack's great reply really cracks everyone up, including Jack. Dennis enters praising Jack's acting last week, repeating  "What a per-FAW-mance~!". (This will go on to be somewhat of an occasional  Dennis catchphrase).  To try to show Mary and Don that he's still mad at them, Jack asks Dennis what he'd like as a Christmas present.   Dennis then sings a medley of two songs, "Everything I Love" and "All the Things You Are".  The per-faw-mance is interrupted by a news bulletin at approximately 10:22 into the broadcast:

News Bulletin # 1 :   "Ladies and gentlemen, a special announcement. The entire regular personnel of the sheriff and police office has been placed on a two-platoon basis with twelve hour shifts. All auxiliary personnel have been directed to stand by for emergency service instructions.  The regular county defense program is functioning in an orderly manner, and citizens are urged to remain calm and avoid all unnecessary confusion because of hysteria.  Citizen volunteers are asked to go quietly to their nearest police or fire stations and offer their services if they wish to help.  There is no immediate cause for alarm, and coolness will accomplish more than anything else".

At approximately 11:02 into the show we return to the broadcast, with Dennis still singing. Dennis says he sang two songs because he is going with two girls. Jack says "that's modern youth for you" and says in his day he was happy with just one girl--his girlfriend Gussie Bageltwist.  Phil arrives and Jack asks him if it is true that after last week's show Phil went into the Brown Derby and said Jack's acting was "putrid".  Phil:  "Last Sunday? Maybe I did, I say that lots of times~!"

Don then announces that he wrote a sequel to Jekyll and Hyde, "Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll", and he wants Jack to take the starring role. This helps Jack to forgive Don, and the cast performs the playlet: Jack is Homer, a grumpy Jekyll character, Mary plays his wife, with Don and Phil playing the children. Homer is mean and nasty until Mary gives him Jell-O for desert, which turns him into a nice guy. Don and Phil recite the six Jell-O flavors in baby voices (note that whenever he is called on to do a baby voice on the program, Phil always does a weird pronunciation of Daddy that sounds somewhat like "Daw-wa-dee").

After the play, Phil and the orchestra perform a number. Almost immediately the song fades out at the 21:05 mark for another special announcement.

News Bulletin # 2:    "Another war bulletin. Shanghai: the Japanese took over the American Shanghai Power and Light Company this morning. A bulletin from New York: the Japanese news agency broadcast tonight the Japanese Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo summoned U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Grew and handed to him Japan's reply to Secretary of State Cordell Hull's terms for peace in the Pacific. This news came hours after the bombing of Honolulu. We now return you to Hollywood"

When the program resumes Dennis asks Jack to show him how to do the sinister laugh that Jack did as Mr. Hyde; Jack shows him, but dislocates his jaw performing it~! Don "snaps" it back into place. Rochester then calls the studio, and as often happens his brief scene is the funniest segment of the whole broadcast. He tells Jack that he can't get Carmichael the polar bear to fall asleep. This is bad as he was supposed to begin hibernating ten days ago. Jack asks what Carmichael is doing and Rochester says he is sitting up in bed reading Esquire magazine:

Jack:   "Esquire? Well, take it away from him~!"
Rochester:   "Oh come now, Boss,
he's been around~!"

Rochester's line gets such a long, semi-delayed laugh that Jack chuckles over his next line.  Jack asks him to brush Carmichael's teeth but Rochester refuses; when Jack says Carmichael doesn't eat people, Roch wants to know what happened to the gas man~!

The program concludes with no further news bulletins.

Note:   This is the "Pearl Harbor" attack episode, broadcast the same day that the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The source of the circulating recording is the broadcast on radio station KFI in Hollywood, California. This is most likely a recording of the 4:00 pm Pacific Time airing. Obviously there was more concern by the public on the West Coast about a possible surprise Japanese air attack than on the East Coast, and the news bulletins that interrupt this broadcast are almost certainly local to the California area, and not heard over other radio stations across America. There are no mentions of the attack on Pearl Harbor in the actual Jell-O program itself.

  In Don's introduction he mentions that Jack made Jekyll and Hyde sound like "Brenda and Cobina". This refers to socialite friends Brenda Frazier and Cobina Wright Jr.  Cobina was Debutante of the Year in 1939, and she and her friend Brenda were celebrities...sort of the Paris Hilton/Nicole Richie of the day.

Dennis' Song:
     Dennis sings "Everything I Love/All the Things You Are".

11.    12/14/41             HORSERADISH
Orchestra Opening:

The Annual Christmas Shopping Episode
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Rose O'Day".

THE VAULT---MOVIE-RADIO GUIDE (December 20, 1941)

By Jack Benny

I'm glad of this opportunity to write the lowdown on Mary Livingstone, because at home or on the air I never get the chance to say anything. There's a gal that always has to have the last word, and trouble is, it's usually funny.

Yes, Mary and I have our differences, but about the only time we ever really clash is on Wednesday night. As far as I'm concerned the only good thing about that program is Kenny Baker, who, incidentally, has a higher I.Q. than Allen. Now, don't think I have anything against Fred personally---I just can't stand him. If Mary tunes in on him next week I'm going to take the earphones and run 'em through the meat-grinder (Well, I guess I should wish Freddie a Merry Christmas). That's the trouble with me, I'm not a louse.

But getting back to Mary, she loves to entertain. And I think she should---I like to have people in, too. Incidentally, Bob Taylor and Barbara Stanwyck have been at our house seven times this month, We've been to their house only three times and the month is nearly over. I wouldn't mind that so much, but Taylor eats like a horse. I don't know how he keeps his figure.

Another thing, Mary always tries to give the impression that I'm tight. Well, I'll tell you something about her. When I was making "Charley's Aunt", she wouldn't even lend me a girdle. I had to go out and buy one! And I needed it for only eight weeks. Oh well, I'll think of some way to use it now.

Anyhow, there's one thing I can say for Mary---she's not the least bit jealous. She was out at the Korda studio watching me do a very passionate love-scene with Carole Lombard the other day, and when I kissed Carole Mary just laughed and laughed. Clark Gable was standing there and he laughed too. I'm glad that Mary and Clark aren't narrow-minded.

Guess that's about all for now. I've got to go out and get my Christmas tree. I've got a swell one picked out. Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas.

By Mary Livingstone

Writing an article about Jack Benny so close to Christmas, unless I'm careful what I say, is apt to upset him no end. And I don't want to do that. He gave me a lovely earring for Christmas last year and I'd like to get it's mate this season.

First of all, don't get the idea that Jack is penurious, meaning tight. The man is just ahead of his time, that's all. For instance, for as long as I can remember he has been saving paper bags, tinfoil and string. Now everybody's doing it. Of course it took a  national emergency to alibi that one---but I did.

Then too, many folks are under the impression that when Jack gives a party he always invites more guests than we have sandwiches. Actually, our ice-box is packed with food. Jack keeps it locked, but that's only to keep people from opening the door and melting the ice. If there was some way to get the food out without that happening, you could have all you wanted.

However, there's one member of our household that gets all he wants to eat---Carmichael the polar bear. We've discovered that you've got to feed that animal. Jack didn't throw him enough fish last year and the first thing we knew the gasman was missing.

Now don't get the idea that I'm complaining. Our house is very comfortable and we have a nice swimming-pool in the back yard. And now that the rainy season is here, there's water in it! Just enough for wading now---but a good cloudburst and we'll be able to use the diving board.

Well, I guess that's about enough of the lowdown on life with Benny.He's really a thoughtful and generous guy, especially at Christmas time (I'll get that earring!) And it looks like we're going to have a real old-fashioned Yuletide. As a matter of fact, right now Jack is over in Ronald Colman's yard chopping down a Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

P.S. Get a loud of Jack in the Santa Claus sit on the front cover. I knew that outfit when it was drapes. And besides, Rochester made the coat too tight!

12.    12/21/41           THE CHRISTMAS TREE
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Relax" (not the Frankie Goes to Hollywood song)

Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, once again the Yuletide season is here, with all its joy and gaiety. So, without further ado, we bring you a star to place atop your Christmas tree...Jack Benny~!"

Guest Star   Carolyn Lee.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings a Christmas medley of "The First Noel"/"Away in a Manger"/"Hark! The Herald Angels Sing".
Note:  This is the Jack Benny program's first full Christmas episode after America's entrance in World War II two weeks earlier.


Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "We Did It Before (and We Can Do It Again")
Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who gave a big party last Thursday at his home in Beverly Hills...a host whose Christmas dinner was the greatest thing since Harper's Bazaar's diet...Jack Benny~!"
Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "Who Calls".

Note:   The beginning of the show is cut on all circulating copies of this episode that I have heard. Don's introduction refers to "The 9 Day Wonder Diet" by Elinor Guthrie Neff, which appeared in the magazine Harper's Bazaar in March of 1941.

14.    01/4/42                NEW YEARS EVE PARTY AT THE BILTMORE BOWL (HOTEL)
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Be Young Again".
Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, let us take you back to last Wednesday night, and show you how Jack and the rest of us celebrated New Year's Eve. Our little story opens at Jack's house around 7 pm, where Jack, assisted by Rochester, is getting dressed....." {fades out}"

Guest Star:   Carolyn Lee guests again

Note:    This episode likely marks the first time that "Rochester" (Eddie Anderson) is listed in the opening cast list of the program. Since the beginning of last week's episode is clipped, it's possible it occurred the previous week, although it was not noted in the script.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Rose O'Day"/"I See Your Eyes Before Me"/"I'm In the Mood For Love"/"The Way You Look Tonight"
15.    01/11/42              FROM MARCH FIELD

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Wings of America"

Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, in as much as our program today is coming to you from March Filed, California, it is with great pleasure that I bring you that eminent authority on aviation...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:    The show is broadcast from March Field, California.
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "We Did It Before".
Note:   The opening Jell-O commercial is cut on the circulating copies.

16.    01/18/42              CAROLE LOMBARD'S DEATH---SHOW IS WITHOUT JACK
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Me and My Buddy Next Door"

Don's Introduction:   "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Don Wilson. Jack Benny will not be with us tonight, but he hopes you will enjoy the program we have prepared for you.  Jack wants you to know that he will be back with us again next week.  In the following half hour you will hear Mahlon Merrick, his Orchestra, his singing chorus the Sportsmen Quartet, and Dennis Day."

Don's Closing:   "Tune in again next week, won't you, and listen to the Jell-O show when Jack Benny will be back with us, with his Jell-O gang Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Phil Harris and his Orchestra, Rochester, and yours truly Don Wilson.  Goodnight, everyone"

   There is another announcement at the 21:50 mark of the program (by an un-named announcer, not Don Wilson): "Ladies and gentlemen, may we remind you again that Jack Benny will not be heard on this afternoon's Jell-O show.  He will be back, however, next Sunday afternoon at this same time."

Note:  From the NBC notes: "Due to the tragic death of Carole Lombard in an airline crash, Jack Benny was unable to go on his program tonight. In its stead, an emergency program
with Dennis Day, chorus and orchestra in program of music was presented".

Note:   Actress Carole Lombard, who had just finished filming the still-to-be-released movie "To Be Or Not To Be" with Jack Benny, died in a plane crash on January 16, 1942. From all reports this devastated Jack, who was friends with Lombard and her husband, Clark Gable. Lombard's mother also perished in the crash.  Although this is obviously not a "regular" Jack Benny program, this episode was numbered as show number 16 of the year on the Benny script, so we are keeping with their numbering system. It is interesting to note that there is a studio audience for this special program, and that the reason for Jack not being there is never actually mentioned on the show.
Note:  From the January 26, 1942 issue of BROADCASTING magazine:
"Benny's Bereavement"
In respect to Carole Lombard, his co-star in "To Be Or Not Be", an Alexander Korda-Ernest (sic) Lubitsch film, to be released through United Artists, Jack Benny cancelled his Jan. 18 broadcast of the NBC Jack Benny Show, sponsored by General Foods (Jell-O). Although no specific explanation was given, the show was replaced by a musical program, featuring Mahlon Meerick's (sic) orchestra, Dennis Day, soloist, and the Sportsman's Quartet, vocal group. Don Wilson announced. Miss Lombard was scheduled for a guest appearance on the Jan. 25 Jell-O program".

Note:  This seems to be the first credited appearance of the Sportsmen Quartet.
17.    01/25/42               THE FRIGHTWIG MURDER CASE

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Boy oh Boy"

Don's Introduction:
Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, once again I bring you our Master of Ceremonies, a man who--
Mary:  "Hold it, Don, Jack isn't here yet"
Don:  "Well, where is he?"
Dennis:  "I just lent Mr. Benny a nickel to make a telephone call"
Mary:  "Oh, he's probably talking to his lawyers again"
Don:  "Lawyers?!"
Mary:  "Yeah: Harrington, Harrington, Harrington and Droop. It's about that accident Rochester had with the Maxwell a couple of weeks ago"
Dennis:  "Remember, when we were up at March Field?"
Don:  "Oh, but that was Rochester's fault, he was driving along and smashed right into a truck"
Mary:  "Well, Jack claims the truck cheated, it had brakes. Let's open the door and listen"
Don:  "Okay"
Dennis:  "Gee, I hope I get my nickel's my life savings~!"
Mary:   "Quiet~! Shhh..."

The Show:   This episode contains one of my favorite Benny punchlines. Jack has finished his phone call with his lawyers Harrington, Harrington, Harrington and Droop, and gone back into the studio. As shown above Don, Dennis and Mary had listened in to the phone call:
Jack:  "Oh, sorry I'm late, kids. Go ahead, Don, introduce me"
Don:  "Okay"
Mary:  "Oh, who were you talking to, Jack? Hmmmmmm...?"
Jack:  "Oh, on the phone just now? Oh, that was an old girlfriend of mine from Wauekegan...she just got into town. Boy, was SHE a hot mama~!"
Mary:   "Then why did you call her Droop?"
Jack:   "The years have taken their toll"
Both Mary's delivery of "hmmm" and Jack's delivery of the punchline are perfect.
Note:  From the January 28, 1942 edition of 'Variety':
"Mary Livingstone, who fainted in the studio after reading her final line on the Jack Benny program Sunday night via NBC-Red, sounded unlike her normal self throughout the broadcast. Comedienne's voice seemed to lack its usual edge of withering scorn and her nornally precise timing was also off. At one point in the show Benny revealed something was wrong by remarking, 'you'd better take a couple of asprins for that cold, sister'.
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "The White Cliffs Of Dover".
18.    02/01/42               THE FRIGHTWIG MURDER CASE PART TWO
Orchestra Opening:      The orchestra opens the program with "Call Out The Marines"
Don's Introduction: 
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, in as much as this evening marks the half-way point of our radio season, I think it only fair that we pay tribute to the man who has contributed his valuable services to the Jell-O show..."
Jack:   ""Well..."
Don:   "A man upon whose broad shoulders rest the burden of maintaining the high comedy level of this program..."
Jack:   "Gee"
Don:   "And here he is, folks, our sound effects man, Mister Virgil Reimer!"

Guest Star:   Humphrey Bogart.

Frank Nelson plays the Benny shows' sound effects man, Virgil Reimer.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis appears on the episode but doesn't sing.

Orchestra Opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "Free For All"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you all know, daylight savings time goes into effect tomorrow, and clocks throughout the country will be moved one hour ahead"
Jack:   "That's right"
Don:   "So, without further ado, we bring you a man who will have only eleven hours sleep tonight instead of his usual twelve...Jack Benny~!"
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "This Love of Mine".

20.     02/15/42              JACK CAN'T GET A DATE ON HIS BIRTHDAY
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Marine's Hymn"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, yesterday February 14, was not only Valentine's Day but also the birthday of Jack Benny, who was exactly {bell rings} years of age. So, let us show you what happened. The time: 7 o' clock last night. The place: Jack's home in Beverly Hills. Take it awayyy...."

Guest Star:   Carolyn Lee guest stars again
    Beginning with this episode,and for most of the programs until the end of May, the opening Jell-O commercial is a cut-in read by separate announcer, and is not done by Don Wilson. Until March the closing Jell-O commercial is also done by this separate announcer.

Dennis' Song:
   Dennis sings "Abe Lincoln Had Just One Country"

21.    02/22/42               AT THE SAN FRANCISCO PRESIDIO
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "The Caissons Go Rolling Along"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, in as much as we are broadcasting from the U.S. Army Post at the Presidio in San Francisco, and this being the birthday of George Washington, it is only fitting that we bring you a man who fought heroically for that great General at Valley Forge...Jack Benny~!"

Some circulating copies skip around the 15:28 mark of the program. Better copies exist
On Location:   The show is broadcast from the Presidio at San Francisco before an audience of soldiers.

Dennis' Song:
   Dennis sings "Private Buckaroo".
Note:   From the February 18, 1942 edition of 'Variety':
"General Foods may clear up its 1942-1943 deal with Jack Benny in another week. Price of $22,000 a week under the latest contract has been pretty well settled and it has also been agreed that hey may be absent for four out of the 39 broadcasts entailed. Benny broadcasts his coming Sunday's installment of Jell-O from the Presdio, San Francisco's army reservation. Still in abeyance is his plan for making up a USO unit and traveling it around the army camps and naval stations."

22.    03/01/42                JACK STARTS A CAMPAIGN FOR AN OSCAR
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Captains of the Clouds"

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Everything I Love"/"All The Things You Are"

23.    03/08/42                FROM SAN DIEGO MARINE BASE
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Call Out The Marines"

Guest Star:   Joan Bennett guest stars

On Location:   The show is broadcast from the San Diego Marine Base
Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "Always in My Heart"

24.    03/15/42             JACK TALKS ABOUT LENDING FRED ALLEN $10.00

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "I Am An American"

The Show:   Another installment in the Jack Benny/Fred Allen "feud". Since Allen recently aired an episode featuring his "life story", Jack presents "The Life of Jack Benny", which reveals, among other things, the day in 1927 when a down-and-out Fred Allen asked Benny for 5 cents; Jack says he gave him $10. Three years later, when Jack asks Allen for money for a cup of Instant Postum, Allen refuses, and the feud begins. Fred Allen is impersonated by Peter Lind Hayes.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "The Garden Where The Praties Grow".

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "One On The House"

Some circulating copies skip around the 7:01 mark. Better copies exist.

On Location:     The show is broadcast from Mather Field Army Air Depot in Sacramento California

Dennis' Song:
   Dennis sings "I'll Pray For You".

26.    03/29/42            DOC BENNY'S MINSTREL SHOW

Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Deep in the Heart of Encino" (although Don then back-announces it as "For You I'll Pine, at Sunset and Vine")

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Can't You Hear Me Callin' Caroline"/"On the Mississippi"/"I Dream of Jeanie"/"Waiting for the Robert E. Lee".

27.    04/05/42             DON'S COMMERCIAL

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Lovely Little Lady"

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "In an Old Cathedral Garden".

28.    04/12/42            TRY AND GET IT QUIZ SHOW
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Let's Be Buddies"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast f
rom Camp Haan, California.

Note:   There exists about 6 minutes of film footage of a rehearsal for this show, which makes for incredibly interesting viewing. You can tell that it's not the actual broadcast from the slight differences between it and the circulating audio. The rehearsal naturally has a more relaxed atmosphere, with flubbed lines, etc. Ironically, the film footage has better audio quality than the circulating radio broadcast. You can view the footage here:   (note:  unfortunately as of 2011 the link that was cited here no longer seems to be working. I'm trying to track down this footage elsewhere)

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "She'll Always Remember"/"Memories"

29.    04/19/42            DON'S PLAY
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "The Fleet's In"

Percy Killbride is the guest star.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I Remember You".
30.    04/26/42            JACK HAWKIN'S REVENGE
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "We Did it Before (and We Can Do It Again)"

On Location: The show is broadcast from the new NBC studios in San Francisco.

Note:   From San Francisco in celebration of the opening of NBC's new studios. According to the NBC program notes, "From this date on Jack Benny keeps his whole cast in the studio and does his show over for the benefit of soldiers and members of the Armed Forces provided by the U.S.O.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Always in My Heart".

31.     05/03/42             CAST VISITS JACK AT WARNER BROTHERS
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Jump For Joy"

The Show:   The show begins with a "cold opening" prior to the Jell-O jingle, as Jack makes a plea for War Bonds:.

Jack:   "....Ladies and gentlemen, we're GOING to win this war.  And we'll win it a lot sooner if we all line up solidly behind our armed forces, and keep them supplied with all the tanks, and planes, and guns and ships they need to do this tremendous job. And we can do that by buying war savings bonds...". 

After the opening, Don says that Jack is making a movie with Ann Sheridan for Warner Bros., and then we flashback to "yesterday" as Rochester drives Jack, Don, and Mary to the Warner Bros. studio lot.  The guests are Ann Sheridan and director William Keighely.  The cast make several references to last weeks ending being cut off by NBC.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis appears on the episode but doesn't sing.

Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Army Air Corps"

On Location:
   From Mather Field Army Air Depot in California. 

The Show:    After Dennis sings "Johnny Doughboy" and Mary reads one of her poems, Jack tells the cast that the end of this season will be their last for Jell-O.  Jack then "flashes back" to tell the story about how their Jell-O sponsor Mr. Mortimer was in town and asked to see Jack.  Jack, Mary and Don went to visit Mr. Mortimer, with Jack convinced he was about to be fired.  However, Mortimer tells them that they are just switching sponsorship from Jell-O to another General Foods product.  Don, waiting outside of the meeting, takes the news Jack that Jell-O will no longer be the sponsor very badly, though.

This circulates from a KFI (Los Angeles) air check in pretty rough quality.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Johnny Doughboy".

33.    05/17/42             JACK IMITATES FRED ALLEN
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "I Am An American"

On Location:
   Broadcast from Santa Ana, California.
Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "When You're With Me"/"Yankee Doodle Dandy"/"Give My Regards to Broadway".

34.    5/24/42             PHIL BECOMES A FATHER
Orchestra Opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "The Real American"

On Location:
   From Camp Calleen, California.

Andy Devine guest stars.

Note:   The opening Jell-O commercial read by the other announcer is accidentally played for a few seconds over Don Wilson's opening announcement.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Sleepy Lagoon".

35.     5/31/42            CAVALCADE OF LAST 8 YEARS FOR JELL-O 
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Salute to Gardener Field"

Don's Introduction:   Don Wilson begins the show with a twist on the Jell-O commercial: 

Don:     "...and now, ladies and gentlemen, in his final appearance for Jell-O, we bring you that delicious comedian with the locked-in bankroll, Jack Benny~!" 

Jack:   " Jello again, this is Jack Benny Jello-ing again for the last time. Next season it'll be Grape Nuts Flakes".

Note:  Jack  and the cast then do a review of all the outstanding episodes in his series for Jell-O, "A Cavalcade of Eight Years For Jell-O".  The parts excerpted in the retrospective are:

How Jack met Rochester

Buck Benny Rides Again

Andy Devine in San Francisco

The Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud

The "Lost Horizon" movie parody, in which and Sam Hearn plays
Schlepperman as the High Llama

Dennis Day's first appearance (with Verna Felton as his mother)

Dennis sings "When You Wish Upon a Star"

A Phone call from Mary's mother

Rochester calling about Carmichael the Polar Bear eating the gas man

Jack's boarder Mr. Billingsley

When Don invited Jack to his house without telling his wife he was coming

The New Year's Eve playlet from 1941

It's worth noting that most, if not all, of these highlights are the actual transcribed recordings from the original programs, and not re-creations.  It gives a little insight as to what the writers and staff thought to be high points of the previous 8 seasons.  Many changes have taken place from that first Jell-O season; cast members, writing staffs, producers, and so on.  The quality of the program has risen steadily every season, and by now  the familiar Jack, Mary, Phil, Dennis and Don "characters" are truly set. 

After the cavalcade, Don does his very last Jell-O commercial, and the band plays "Auld Lang Syne" over the closing.

Last program of the 1941-1942 season:  the summer replacement show is "Victory Parade"

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "When You Wish Upon A Star".

1941-1942 SEASON  LATEST REVISION:  July 6, 2014