THE 1942-1943 SEASON
The gang return with another season on NBC.  The cast remains the same:  Jack, Mary Livingstone, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, and Don Wilson.  The show is still written by Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin. Robert Walsh is now the producer, and, in the biggest change, the show is now sponsored by Grape Nut Flakes (the correct title of the show is "The Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program starring Jack Benny") rather than the familiar Jell-O. However, both Jell-O and Grape Nut Flakes were General Food products; the company simply switched their sponsorship of the Benny program from one of their products to another. Apparently General Foods were selling as much Jell-O as they could manufacture during wartime, so they felt they should use the airtime to boost one of their lesser-selling products. However, this allowed the show's writers to actually play around with the fact that the sponsorship had changed from the long-standing Jell-O.

Following the December 6,1942 episode, Phil Harris departs for the Merchant Marines, and is absent from the program until March, 1943. His musical role on the show is performed by various "guest conductors". The program leaves it's Hollywood studio and goes on location for the entire duration of Phil's absence; they visit New York City, Camp Devins in Maine, and return to New York for the last program of the calendar year 1942. The program begins 1943 from Bangor, Maine, then back to New York, over to Fort Meade Maryland, then Quantico Virginia, back again to New York, followed by their first program to be broadcast from outside of the United States, a show from Toronto, Canada on Jack's birthday February 14, 1943. They then travel to Chicago Illinois, visit Fort Custer in Michigan, and finally finish up the extended trip on March 7, 1943 back in New York City. This March 7 program is done without Jack Benny; for five weeks in March-April 1943, Jack is ill and misses the show; the re
placement hosts on the first program without Jack are his good friends George Burns and Gracie Allen, and then the next four programs are hosted by Orson Welles. The March 14, 1943 program finds the show back home in Hollywood California, with the return of Phil Harris. There's a lot of "take it awayyyy..." in Don's introductions this year, as well as him announcing "re-enactments", a favorite plot device of Morrow and Beloin.

The program finished nifty overall in the ratings for the year, with a Hooper rating of 33.9

1.    10/04/42            JACK ROUNDS UP THE GANG IN THE MAXWELL   (aka First Show for Grape Nuts Flakes)
Orchestra Opening:      The orchestra opens the program with "Pennsylvania Polka"

Don's Introduction: 
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, let us turn back the clock one hour, and show you what happened on the way to the studio. Jack, in line with the 'Share Your Car' campaign, volunteered to pick up the gang in his Maxwell and drive us all down to the first broadcast"
Jack:   "Why, it's the least I could do..."
Don:   "Anyway, Jack called me and told me to be waiting in front of my house, as he and Rochester would be along just as soon as they..."  {fades out}

The Show:   The Jack Benny program returns from summer vacation. This is the first program under the new sponsorship, Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes.  The show begins with the familiar "J-E-L-L--O"  jingle, then Don Wilson says "The Jello Program, Starring Jack Benny, with Mary Livingstone..." when Jack interrupts; "No, no, Don, not's Grape Nuts Flakes this year~! Oh my goodness.."  Don replies "Oh, darn it...The Grapes Nuts Flakes Program starring Jack Benny..."  Jack: "No, not Grapes Nuts , GRAPE Nuts Flakes~!  What's the matter with you? I'll get fired~!"  Then Don does his first real Grape Nuts commercial.

Then, in a "flashback" to one hour before show time, Jack collects the cast in his Maxwell car.
  Jack, in line with the “Share Your Car” campaign, volunteered to pick up the cast in his Maxwell, driven by Rochester.  After arriving at the studio, Jack and Mary meet their “new producer”, Robert Welch. When they go to rehearse in Studio B, they find that they have to wait due to another show using the studio, “The Heartaches of Sally Sutton”.  Jack reveals that he and Rochester listen to the show every morning while doing the dishes.  Frank Nelson plays the “THOSS” announcer, while it turns out that Dennis Day plays Sally’s son~! 

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings “Be Careful, It’s My Heart”.

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

Don's Introduction:
Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, since we're at the Army Air Base at Santa Ana, we would like to re-enact the scene which took place last Thursday, when two cadets from this very feild paid a visit to Jack Benny at his home in Beverly Hills"
Jack:  "Oh Don, who wants to hear about that?"
Don:  "Jack and Rochester were hard at work in the kitchen, as I understand it, little suspecting that anyone would drop in..."

On Location:
   From Santa Ana Army Air Base, California.

The Show:

Guest Star:   Barbara Stanwyck guests.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "At Last".


Maxwell cars were the brainchild of Jonathan Dixon Maxwell (1864-1928). Maxwell was a machinist and also worked on the railroad. He eventually worked with Eli Olds, founder of Oldsmobile.

Maxwell left Oldsmobile and teamed up with Benjamin Briscoe of the Briscoe Brothers Metalworks to start the Maxwell-Briscoe Company in Tarrytown, New York, in 1903. Their first car, the Maxwell Runabout, was manufactured in 1904, and sold for around $485.

After a fire gutted their Tarrytown factory, the company opened a new factory in New Castle, Indiana, which became at the time the largest car factory in the world. Maxwell-Briscoe would also open factories in Pawtucket Rhode Island and Detorit, Michigan.

The Maxwell and Briscoe partnership ended in 1912, and in 1913 the company was purchased by Walter Flanders, who renamed it the Maxwell Motor Company.

The Maxwell cars were actually quite fast for their day .Maxwell automobiles won several races, and in 1916 a Maxwell set the coast-to-coast record, going from New Jersey to California in “just” ten days and sixteen hours.

Despite these successes, The Maxwell Motor Company found itself in debt by 1920. In 1921 Walter P. Chrysler took over a controlling interest in the Maxwell Motor Company. The Maxwell name continued to be used until 1925, when the company was renamed the Chrysler Corporation. The 1926 model Chryslers were modeled mainly after the earlier Maxwells, however, and these would eventually be renamed by 1928 as Chrysler Plymouths.

The first mention of Jack Benny owning a Maxwell came on the October 24, 1937 program, the joke being that Jack, being way too cheap to buy a new car, instead still owned a car that was at least 17 years old upon its first mention on the program. The first time that the car was actually heard was on the next week’s program, October 08, 1937. On October 8, 1939 Jack’s car is said to be a 1920 model. Originally the sound of the car was provided by the sound effects man, using recordings; eventually it would be the great Mel Blanc that would provide the sound of the car stuttering and wheezing as Rochester tried to start it.

On the third program of the 1942-1943 season, October 18, 1942, Jack decides to give the Maxwell to the World War II scrap m
etal drive. He almost backs out of it as he and Rochester become sentimental over saying goodbye to his old car.  Although the fact that he donated the Maxwell became a running gag, eventually it would re-appear, and even be showcased "in the flesh" (or metal, as it were) on Jack's television program.

3.    10/18/42           JACK GIVES UP THE MAXWELL FOR SCRAP
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "This Is The Army, Mr. Jones"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Williams Field near Chandler, Arizona, we bring you a man who, after a week in the blazing Arizona sun, no longer looks like a frogs belly in the moonlight---Jack Benny~!

On Location:   From Williams Field, Chandler, Arizona. 

The Show:   Jack kicks off the show with "Jell-O again....I mean, Grape Nuts Flakes again".  Jack and Don discuss how hot it in the Arizona desert. Jack tells Mary that his tan makes him look like tasty brown Grape Nuts Flakes; Mary replies "Yeah, but you still taste like Jell-O".  (Since both Jell-O and Grape Nuts Flakes were made by General Foods, they could still mention their old sponsored product). Jack tells Don and Mary that he's staying at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, even though it's not open yet. Mary says she's staying at the Westward Ho.  (It's interesting to note that, in episodes from the 1930s and 1940s, members of the cast almost always refer to "living" at a hotel, rather than "staying" at a hotel.  I'm not sure when that usage fell out of fashion, but you'd never hear someone nowadays say that they are "living" at a hotel). Mary says she's enjoying Arizona because of all the soldiers and cowboys. Jack says "you're always thinking of men, what's the matter with you?" Mary's answer "it's perfectly normal, look it up" gets a large laugh from the audience.  Phil arrives, and he mispronounces "humidity";  Jack asks him "Where are you living, melonhead?". When Jack's line also receives a large laugh, he ad libs "Gee, I'm glad I put that in~!" Dennis dedicates his song "Conchita" (also known as "Conchita Rosita Lopez") to his 'girlfriend' Babe Marks (Mary's real-life sister).

After Dennis' song Don introduces a "re-enactment" of events that occurred the previous Monday afternoon, when Jack donated his Maxwell car to the war's Junk Salvage Drive. Jack rounds up his whole gang to take one last trip in the car, as they bring it in to the Automobile Graveyard. Frank Nelson plays the salvage yard owner, who offers Jack $7.50 for the Maxwell. Don, Mary and Phil are anxious to leave, but Jack can't bear to leave his "little Maxy", and he begins to cry---as does Rochester~!

Later that evening, Jack is preparing to go to bed, still sadly thinking about his little Maxy--"Five years...5 years I've had that little Maxwell". Mr. Billingsley (Ed Beloin) has a little cameo.  Rochester tries to cheer Jack up by telling him that the Maxwell could now be part of a ship or a plane for the war effort. Jack is comforted by that idea and drifts off to sleep. He dreams that he is "Bombardier Benny"; his airplane is his Maxwell with wings. He is flying a bombing mission over Tokyo; Phil Harris is his navigator, Rochester is his co-pilot, Dennis is the gunner, Frank Nelson is Colonel Bridget, Mary is a cigarette girl that also sells bombs, and Don Wilson is a cloud.  While trying to tune in the plane's radio they get a Japanese version of the "Sally Sutton" radio show that Jack and Rochester enjoy. As they begin to bomb Tokyo, Rochester wakes up Jack; when Jack tells him the bombing mission in his dream wasn't finished, Rochester wants to go to sleep to continue.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Conchita Rosita Lopez".

Note:   On October 20th, Fox Movietone News filmed fifteen takes of Jack at 20th Century Fox Studios, donating the Maxwell to Merrill Stubbs, Chief of the Automobile Graveyard Section of the War Production Board. This was for newsreel coverage: the donating of the Maxwell was also noted on the October 22nd broadcast of the radio program "The March of Time".

Note:   Show writers Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin are credited in the closing announcements.


4.    10/25/42            TALES OF MANHATTAN
Orchestra Opening:     The orchestra opens the program with "Gobs Of Love"

Don's Introduction:   "Now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who turned in his Maxwell to the junk salvage drive last week (Jack: "That's right, no car now") and this morning, came all the way from Beverly Hills on a pogo stick with an outboard motor---Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   The initial show opening is "Grape Nuts Flakes to youuu" to the "J-E-L-L-O" melody. It is a very awkward fit and won't last too long. Neither will Jack's opening with "Grape Nuts Flakes again" instead of his by-then famous "Jell-O again". The crowd sort of chuckles at it, as if their are wondering if Jack is serious with something that lame.
There are numerous references to war rationing on this episode.  The gang discuss the various ways they got to the studio; Jack claims he ran the ten miles. When Don compliments Jack's limbs, Mary flubs her line, saying "I've seen better looking limbs holding up Burma Shave ads", instead of "Burma Shave signs".  Jack points out her mistake and says that "signs" got a bigger laugh, indicating that this is the later, West Coast show.  (Burma Shave were a "brush-less" shaving cream company. From 1925 to 1963, they advertised by placing six consecutive signs on the sides of US roads. The first five signs would have a clever, usually rhyming verse about the benefits of brush-less shaving, while the sixth sign simply said "Burma Shave".  Eventually the signs also addressed such topics as support for World War II and driver safety. An example from 1942:

Of all
The drunks
Who drive on Sunday
Some are still
Alive on Monday
Burma Shave

There are several references to Burma Shave and their signs in Warner Bros. cartoons from that era. There is also a fantastic book titled "Verse By The Side of The Road" by Frank Rowsome Jr., which contains all of the known Burma Shave signs. My grandfather owned a copy of this book, and growing up I enjoyed it so much that at one point I think I had most of the signs memorized.)

Phil brings in his baby daughter, who always cries whenever she sees Jack. Jack asks Phil and the orchestra to play a number, so Phil hands the baby to Jack, and the baby begins to cry hysterically. While the baby cries Don does a Grape Nuts Flakes commercial, and at the end he mentions to look for Kate Smith's picture on the box. This infuriates Jack; since Grape Nuts was the sponsor of Kate Smiht's show prior to becoming Jack's sponsor, Jack feels that HE should be pictured on the box. Jack calls the head of General Foods, Mr. Chapin, to complain. After hanging up, Jack says that the play they will be performing tonight is based on  "one of the most pretentious pictures of the season", which doesn't get a big laugh but almost cracks Jack up. The movie is "Tales of Manhattan", a film with five separate stories,  following a coat as it goes through different owners. Jack reels off a list of the stars of the movie, all due to appear on the program, including Charles Boyer, Charles Laughton, Edward G. Robinson, Rita Hayworth, and  Thomas Mitchell.  Jack asks the show's producer, Robert Welch (playing himself) if he remembered to book all of the stars...he says he forgot. After Rochester calls concerning Carmichael, Jack's polar bear, Dennis sings his song.

Following Dennis' song, the Benny "acting is our meat but we've been rationed" Players perform "Pants of Manhattan", with Jack taking all of the starring roles. Dennis plays Thomas Mitchell.  In Act 1, Jack plays Charles Boyer, in Act 2 he plays Charles Laughton, and in Act 3 he plays Edward G. Robinson.  Each act ends with Jack getting shot in the pants by Dennis Day.

The show closes oddly after Don's Grape Nuts commercial, with another commercial for Grape Nuts Wheat Meal, without going back for Jack's closing remarks. All in all a very enjoyable episode; though the play is nothing spectacular, both Jack and Dennis are quite funny. It seems obvious that the program is still adjusting to the switch of sponsors from Jell-O to Grape Nuts, fitting in Grape Nuts mentions rather awkwardly.

Dennis' Song:    Dennis sings "At Last".

Note:    Thank you very much to Matthew Bateman-Graham for sending the following fascinating information about this episode and the film it parodies, "Tales of Manhattan".  To quote Matthew;

"There are two points of interest...

A. The last episode of the film has a segment featuring Ethel Walters, Paul Robeson ...and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. In fact, Rochester plays a character role of a elderly pastor in which he is very good and very different to the wise cracking servant roles he was getting in films in the wake of his success on the Benny Program. I noticed this season is when the audience start to regularly applaud when he appears, usually announcing himself on the phone.

B. "Tales of Manhattan" had a segment featuring WC Fields supported by Margaret Dumond and a very young Phil Silvers. However this episode was cut out of the release print which displeased the Great Man. Reasons given included it was too farcical and was over shadowing the other stories. This segment has now been put back into DVD releases of the film. And the Fields segment was written by (drumroll please) ...Edmund Beloin and Bill Morrow! In a biography of Fields by James Curtis, it mentions that Fields was a friend of Morrow and a admirer of his writing on the Jack Benny Program. (Bill worked on Fields projects including writing the 78 rpm recordings "The Temperance Lecture" and "The Day I Drank a Glass of Water" for Fields, which was one of the first records produced by Les Paul, of multitrack guitar fame. It was in fact the last recorded performance of the Great Man before he passed away on Xmas Day 1946)

There is a letter in the book "WC Fields by Himself" (Prentice-Hall) that was a clarifying letter to Variety (Feb 2 , 1942):

"There was a slight mistake in your august journal this morning regarding my having insisted upon or having written the script to my sequence in "Tales of Manhattan". The script was written by Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow, those two happy and able little scriveners who write the Jack Benny program."

So Ed and Bill get to write, for radio, a parody of a film of which their segment was so funny, it was cut out of the picture.  Is that why they get Jack to say that "Tales of Manhattan" is one of the most pretentious movies of the season?

No hard feelings, fellows."

5.    11/01/42               JACK AND PHIL GO TARGET SHOOTING
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Salute to the Marines"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, since we are broadcasting from Camp Elliot, which is a Marine base, we bring you a man who goes with a girl named Marine, and can't get to first base---Jack Benny~!"

On Location:  
The show is broadcast from the Marine Base at Camp Elliot in San Diego, California.

The Show:   Jack enters with "Grape Nuts Flakes again", again. Don and Jack discuss Jack's girl Marine Strudelhaven. Don says he saw her and Jack sitting apart in a movie theatre. Jack says she didn't understand the plot, which is surprising since she works in the movies. Mary enters and says that Marine isn't in the movies, she works in a shipyard; "I wish I had  a nickel for every rivet she's caught in her bucket". This gets a slow-rolling but hearty laugh from the audience of Marines, apparently reading something into Mary's remark. Jack replies "All right, all right, it's patriotic for women to do work like that nowadays", which just sets the Marine crowd off more...even Jack starts to crack up, and says "..really~!". Phil Harris then enters and after some banter sings an incredibly bad song called "I Get the Neck of the Chicken".  Dennis gets upset after the song: "I could sing better than that with one tonsil". When Jack asks him what's wrong, Dennis says that he does the singing around here; Jack tells him to relax, that he has a song coming up later in the show. Then a Marine knocks and's Shlepperman~!  I always love Shlepperman appearances, and he doesn't disappoint here, being very funny in a brief spot about being in the Marines.  After Shlepperman leaves, Mary reads a poem in honor of the Marines' 167th Anniversary on November 10.  Following Mary's poem, Jack announces that he is going to the rifle range to do some target shooting, as he was invited by General Smith.  Phil wants to go along, and so does Mary---Jack tells Mary no, but she says Jack better let her go or she'll tell the audience that Jack tried to join the WAVEs. Jack replies "I did not", then comments, "....a fine answer. I wish my writers would think of ME once in a while". Rochester calls; he was supposed to bring Jack's gun, but while cleaning it shot up Jack's socks and BVDs. Jack tells him to get into a cab and bring the gun; Jack, Phil and Mary then leave for the range as Don does a quick Grape Nuts Flakes commercial , and Dennis finally sings his song (which is cut on this copy).

At the range Jack and Phil make a $5 bet on who can come closest to the bulls-eye. Jack doesn't want to let Mary try, but she hits the bulls-eye on all three shots. Rochester arrives with Jack's gun but it's ancient (it has a flint).

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "There Will Never Be Another You".

Note:  The opening song and commercial are cut in my copy. This is a somewhat more "adult"episode than usual, what with Don's reference to first base and the Marines' laughter at the double entendre of some of the jokes.


6.    11/08/42            TWINK FAMILY PART ONE
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "I Am An American".

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, the elections being over, we bring you a man who was swept into office by an overwhelming majority....the new sidewalk inspector of Beverly Hills, California...Jack Benny~!"

The Show:   The cast perform a play "written" by Don Wilson, "The Twink Family". Andy Devine stops by and sells Leona the Horse to Jack for $10, to replace the Maxwell.  The show is back in Hollywood. Some circulating copies of this show are very static-y.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "White Christmas"  (his version includes the "there has never been such a day..." verse missing from Bing Crosby's version)

7.    11/15/42            TWINK FAMILY PART TWO
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "We'll Win Through"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "Now, ladies and gentlemen, from the Naval Air Station at Terminal Island we bring you a former member of the United States Navy.."
Jack:   "That's right~!"
Don:    "The first man to shout hooray when John Paul Jones said 'I have not yet begun to fight'...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:   The show is broadcast from Terminal Island Naval Air Station in California.

The Show:   Dorothy Lamour guest stars as Dennis' new girlfriend (she gets a small, cute case of the giggles after Jack makes a Hedda Hopper joke).   Some circulating copies of this show have some bad volume fluctuations.

Guest Star:   Dorothy Laamour

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Dearly Beloved"


Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "I Got a Touch of Texas"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, once again we bring you our genial master of ceremonies, a man who.."
Jack:   "Hold it, Don, hold it.  I'm not appearing on the program tonight unless Mary Livingstone and Phil Harris get out of the studio.
Don:  "Whaaat?!"
Jack:   "You heard me, big boy.  I'm not going to associate with those two smart-alecs."
Phil:   "Aww, lay off Jackson, you're too big a guy to hold a grudge."
Jack:   "Listen, I can hold a grudge longer than anybody YOU ever knew, twitch-hips. Now get away from me or I'll kick ya".
Phil:   "You do and you can turn your bridgework into the scrap drive"
(The introduction then sort of trails off into the episode, without a definite ending)

The Show:   Jack rides the horse "Leona" to the premiere of his movie "George Washington Slept Here".

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

Note:   Pleas note the fantastic acting of Mr. Don Wilson in the introduction, on his line "Whaaat?!"

9.    11/29/42            THREE MEN IN A TANK---GOING AFTER ROMMELL
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Hallaloo"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs, California, we bring you that sun-tanned adenoids..."
Jack:   "Adenoids?! That's ADONIS, read it right~!"
Don:   "Oh, yes..."
Jack:   "...adenoids~!"
Don:   "That sun-tanned Adonis, Jack Benny~!"

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

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Three Dreams".

Note:   Featuring one of the funniest episode introductions ever, it really cracks up the audience.

10.    12/06/42            LIBERTY SHIP
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "It's a Grand Old Flag"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as is my custom every Sunday night at this time..."
Jack:   "Hold it, Don, hold it, hold it.  Tonight's introduction is for our good ol' maestro. Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to announce that this is the farewell appearance of Phil Harris on this program, as Phil and his band have joined the United States Maritime Service; they're in the Merchant Marines. (applause). That's for you and the boys, Phil."

The Show:   Back in in Hollywood. This is the last show for Phil Harris, who is leaving for the Merchant Marines.  His role will be filled by various guest conductors until his return.  This is also the last show to originate from California until episode 24, as the "Jell-O gang" begin an extended out-of-studio run.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I'm Getting Tired So I Can Sleep"/"I'll See You In My Dreams".

Note:   As noted above,  this is the last episode for Phil Harris until episode twenty four, March 14 1943.  Whether by a coincidence or by plan, every episode of the Benny program subsequent to Phil's departure this week will originate from outside the normal studios,  until Phil's return in March.

11.    12/13/42            FROM NEW YORK
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Hallelujah"

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from New York City we bring you that reckless playboy, who's been known to light a cigar with a Raleigh cigarette coupon....Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from New York.

The Show:   Jack and the gang arrive in New York City, and receive a phone call from actor Gary Cooper. Alan Reed plays his role from the Fred Allen program, Falstaff Openshaw.

Guest Conductor:    
Benny Goodman and His Orchestra

Guest Stars:   Gary Cooper, Benny Goodman, Alan Reed.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I Had The Craziest Dream".

Note:   This broadcast begins a run of thirteen consecutive episodes (11-23) done from a location outside the studio, the longest non-studio run so far of the 1940s.  The shows are almost all broadcast from the East Coast, many from camps and depots. The circulating copy of this episode is from the Special Service Division of the War Department.

12.    12/20/42            GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "I Got a Touch of Texas"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Fort Devins, near the historic city of Boston, Massachusetts, we bring you that left-over bag from the Boston Tea Party...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast f
rom Camp Devins, Massachusetts.

The Show:     The special guest is Ann Blank, student nurse at Boston General Hospital

Guest Conductor:  Abe Lyman and his Orchestra

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "White Christmas".

13.    12/27/42            NEW YEARS EVE SKIT:  THE NEW TENANT
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "For Me and My Gal"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, 1943 being just around the corner, we bring you a man who's been sewing like mad to get his tuxedo finished before New Years Eve...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from the Vanderbilt Theatre in New York.

The Show:   The  gang perform the annual Benny program New Year's Eve play, 'The New Tenant'. Fred Allen plays Uncle Sam, Jack plays Father Time; Dennis plays Hitler and Hirohito;  Mary plays Columbia and Don Wilson plays Alaska.

Guest Stars:   Fred Allen, Benny Goodman

Guest Conductor:   The guest conductor is Benny Goodman and his Orchestra

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "There Are Such Things".

Note:   The opening orchestra number is cut on my copy of the program.

14.    01/03/43                BEAR HUNTING
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Me and My Buddy"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the Bangor Opera House in Bangor, Maine, we bring you
Don and Jack together:   .."comedian you'll get a big bang out of... Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
The show is broadcast from the Opera House in Bangor, Maine.

The Show:

Guest Conductor:    Abe Lyman and his Orchestra

Guest Star:    Abe Lyman.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To".

15.    01/10/43               THE $64 QUESTION
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Hallelujah"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure and honor to introduce the Bob Hope of the Grape Nuts Flakes program, Jack Benny~!"

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

Guest Conductor:    Phil Baker guests, and Benny Goodman guest conducts.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Moonlight Becomes You".

Note:   The opening orchestra number is cut on my copy of the program.

16.    01/17/43             SPOOF ON "INFORMATION PLEASE"
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Everything I Love"

Don's Introduction: 
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the most fantastic introduction of the year..."
Jack:   "Fantastic?!"
Don:   "I bring you a famous concert violinist who is making his debut this evening at Carnegie Hall....Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast once more from The Vanderbilt Theatre in New York City, NY.

The Show:

Guest Conductor:     Abe Lyman guest conducts

Guest Stars:  Oscar Levant and Joe Besser, one of the stars of the Olsen and Johnson hit "Suns O' Fun", guest star.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Three Dreams".

Note:   Although Don Wilson has taken to mostly back-announcing the opening orchestra numbers this season, in a rarity he doesn't even do that here, not mentioning the title of the song at all

17.    01/24/43                MR. BENNY GOES TO WASHINGTON
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "With a Pack On His Back"

Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the state of Maryland, the home of thoroughbred racehorses, we bring you that old grey mare....Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
The show is broadcast from Fort Meade, Maryland.

The Show:

Guest Conductor:   With the McFarland Twins  (George and Art) and their Orchestra.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I Just Kissed Your Picture Goodnight".

18.    01/31/43            FROM QUANTICO, VIRGINIA
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "The Road to Morocco"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Quantico, Virginia, where we are broadcasting to the world's roughest, toughest fighting men, the United States Marines.."
Jack:  "You said it"
Don:  "We bring you the Waukegan creampuff.....Jack Benny~!"
Jack:   "Thank you.....hey, what happened to that first number there?! My goodness...I thought Phil Harris was back with us again, I mean what the..."

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from the US Marine barracks at Quantico, Virginia.

The Show:

Guest Conductor:   The McFarland Twins and their orchestra again guest conduct.

Guest Star:   Virginia Bruce.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "As Time Goes By".

Note:   The McFarland Twins and their orchestra royally screw up the ending of the opening number, just sort of silently "fading out" and leaving an uncomfortable silence. Jack comments on it in his first line of dialog, listed above in Don's introduction.

Note:   Mary Livingstone is sick and does not appear on this episode; Virginia Bruce subs for Mary. Jack says "goodnight, doll" for Mary at the end of the program.

Note:   Every copy of this episode that I've managed to obtain is of absolutely atrocious audio quality, although it partly seems to have been the fault of the original "on location" transmission. Nevertheless this episode would be a prime candidate for remastering.

19.    02/07/43            JACK IS LATE FOR THE PROGRAM
Orchestra Opening:

Don's Introducton:
    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a little surprise for you. Jack wirde us that owing to a slight delay coming up on the train from Norfolk, Virginia, he will be just a few minutes late. So, while we're waiting for Jack, I'll turn the mike over to his very good friend, the famous star of Show Time, George Jessel~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from New York

The Show:   Rochester forgot to wake up Jack; they missed the train, and so Jack is late for the program. George Jessel opens the show in Jack's place.

Guest Conductor:    Abe Lymans and his Orchestra.

Guest Stars:  
George Jessel, Joe Besser

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Moonlight Mood".

Note:  Some copies of shows with this date are actually March 31, 1940, with the "...a new star has loomed over the dramatic horizon.." intro by Don Wilson, regarding Jack's performance on Orson Welles' radio show doing "June Moon". Other circulating copies labeled as this date are often actually the April 3, 1938 program, which also began with Don Wilson introducing George Jessel as substituting for a late Jack Benny. Interestingly, the wording of both the 1938 and the 1943 introductions are almost the same; the easiest way to tell the difference is that the 1938 Jessel program begins with the Jell-O jingle, while this 1943 program begins with Grape Nuts Flakes.

I find it kind of interesting that, rather than just simply write a new introduction for this episode, Morrow and Beloin must have had someone go and pull a copy of their script from almost five years before, as the wordings are almost identical. (The April 3, 1938 introduction: "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a little surprise for you. Jack wired us that owing to a slight delay on the train, he'll be just a few minutes late. So, in the meantime, while we're waiting for Jack, I'll turn the microphone over to his good friend and pinch-hitter, George Jessel~!")

20.    02/14/43            FROM ONTARIO CANADA
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Me and My Buddy"

Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in our broadcasting history, our program this evening originates outside the border of the United States.
Jack:   "Yes, sir, we're in Toronto Canada"
Don:   "Canada~! Stretching 3000 miles from Novia Scotia in the East to Vancouver Island in the distant Pacific"
Jack:   "It's big alright"
Don:   "Canada~!  Famous for it's farming, it's lumbering, it's mining, and it's fur trapping~!"
Jack:   "Yep, everything from grizzly bear to skunk"
Don:   "Which brings us to our Master of Ceremonies...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from Ontario, Canada.

Guest Conductor:    Allan McIver's Orchestra. 

Dennis' Song  Dennis sings "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To".

Note:    This is the first Jack Benny broadcast of the 1940s to originate outside of the United States.

Note:   Once again Don Wilson does not announce the title of the orchestra's opening number.

21.    02/21/43            CHICAGO--A MONUMENT FOR JACK

Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Me and My Buddy"

Don's Introduction:

Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Chicago Illinois, where we are broadcasting for the A.A.F.T.T.C.C.S..."

Jack:   (laughs) "That stands for...wait'll I get this straight...that stands for the Army Air Forces Technical Training Command Chicago School"

On Location:
   The show is broadcast from Chicago, Illinois.

Guest Conductor:    Bob Crosby & his Orchestra.

Note:   Right after this program Jack appears as a judge on the "Quiz Kids" radio program.

Note:   Apparently the show opens with the same song as the week before.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I Heard That Song Before".

22.    02/28/43            KIT CARSON BENNY
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Jefferson Fox, I Love You"

Don's Grape Nuts Flakes Commercial:
   Normally I don't transcribe any of Don's commercials for Jell-O or Grape Nuts, mainly because I'd like to finish this website guide before I'm 87. However, this episodes'  WWII-themed one is particularly interesting

Don:   "You know, I often suggest to you wives that you give your husbands delicious, nutritious Grape Nuts Flakes at breakfast. But tonight I have a new idea. My nest words are for men only~! Listen, fellas, don't send the girls off to work without Grape Nuts Flakes at breakfast. How're they gonna hammer rivets? How're they gonna drive a taxi cab or run an elevator? Unless their breakfast stays by ' see that the gals get Grape Nuts Flakes, for Grape Nuts Flakes are a whole grain cereal, chuck full of health building food essentials. And sayyy, just watch the girls go for that wonderful flavor~! The multi-rich sweet as a nut Grape Nuts flavor in toasty brown flakes form a flavor different than any other flake cereal in America. So men....give the girls a hand. Give 'em a cheerful sendoff of Grape Nuts Flakes every morning. And by the way, YOU'LL go for delicious Grape Nuts Flakes yourself~!"

It's fascinating, Don Wilson probably mentions Grape Nut Flakes as many times in this commercial as "Lucky Strike" will be repeated in the future, during the Lucky Strike commercials...yet the effect is so different. The Lucky Strike ads, read by people that were otherwise not on the "main" part of the Benny program, seem so forced and sterile, like a hammer repeatedly hitting you over the head
.  They have such a stereotypical "commercial announcer" type voices. But Don's Grape Nuts commercial comes across as charming and amusing. In my opinion, if the American Tobacco Co. had just let Don Wilson read their opening Lucky Strike commercials, the deadening effect of the constant repetition would not have been nearly so bad.

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from Fort Custer, Michigan, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies,  a man who has used all of the coupons in his ration book of comedy...Jack Benny~!

On Location:
   From Fort Custer, Michigan

Guest Conductor:      Bob Crosby and his Orchestra.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "I Just Kissed Your Picture Goodnight".

Note:   You can hear the orchestra tuning up before Don begins the broadcast. In general, there were more noticeable orchestra flubs during the absence of Phil Harris and his Orchestra.

23.    03/07/43              HOSTS:GEORGE BURNS AND GRACIE ALLEN
Show Introduction:   "The Grape Nuts Flakes Program, with Rochester, Dennis Day, Bill Goodwin, Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra, and yours truly Don Wilson...and appeaing for Jack Benny, who's confined with a cold, we have Jack's personal friends George Burns and Gracie Allen~!"

Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "Liza"

Don's Introduction:  
"Ladies and gentlemen, when Jack Benny found that he couldn't do his broadcast tonight, he told me to call on his good friends, George Burns and Gracie Allen, and ask them to pinch-hit for him. So, I started for the Burns' hotel to tell them about Jack's problem, never dreaming that another problem was already brewing in the domestic life of...George and Gracie~!"

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

Guest Conductor:   Paul Whiteman's Orchestra.

Guest Hosts:   Jack is ill, so George Burns & Gracie Allen substitute.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "There Are Such Things"

Note:   This is the last broadcast of the shows' extended run of shows originating from outside the Hollywood studios.

Note:   Once again Don Wilson does not announce the title of the opening orchestra number.

Note:    The most unusual Jack Benny show opening ever?  Jack is out sick, Mary Livingstone is not on the show either, and Phil Harris is still in the Merchant Marines.  Paul Whiteman fills in for Phil, Burns and Allen fill in for Jack and Mary, and Bill Goodwin, the announcer for the Burns and Allen radio show, is listed in the opening cast introduction by Don Wilson.  The orchestra plays the Burns and Allen theme song, "Love Nest", to introduce the couple.

Note:   In "real life" Jack Benny and George Burns & Gracie Allen were extremely good friends.

Note:  There was advance notice that there would be no Jack tonight; from the March 5, 1943 Chicago Tribune:


Jack Benny, laid up for a fortnight with a bad cold in the Ambassador Hotel, has canceled his radio appearance for Sunday evening on the advice of physicians. Benny was scheduled to do his broadcast from St. Joseph, Mo., on Sunday. Tomorrow he had planned to give a camp show near Kansas City. Benny has been attended by Dr. L.B. Bernheimer and Dr. Abraham Schram, 104 South Michigan Avenue. Dr. Schram advised Benny yesterday to remain in bed over the weekend. Benny had made several appearances during his two weeks here against the counsel of his physicians. George Burns and Gracie Allen will substitute for him on Sunday from New York.

24.    03/14/43            HOST: ORSON WELLES
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "You're a Grand Old Flag"

Host:  Orson Welles fills in because Jack is still ill.

Note:   The bad news is that, as noted, Jack is still out sick.  T
he good news is that Phil Harris returns from the Merchant Marines.

Frank Nelson plays a secretary to Welles
. Andy Devine also guest stars.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Danny Boy"

25.    03/21/43            HOST: ORSON WELLES
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Something For The Boys"

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to turn the clock back to yesterday morning and show you what happened when our whole gang visited Orson Welles at his motion picture studio, where he is writing, acting, directing, producing,--and enjoying--his new picture. Now, Mary had just returned from the East the night before, so Phil and Dennis stopped by her house to give her a lift...."

Guest Host: 
  Orson Welles again fills in for  a sick Jack Benny.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "That Old Black Magic"

Note:  In an extremely trivial note, notice how Don almost always called the cast "the Jell-O gang" during the Jell-O years, but just "the gang" during the Grape Nuts Flakes years.

26.    03/28/43            DEATH AT MIDNIGHT (HOST: ORSON WELLES)
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Take It From There"

Show Introduction:
  "The Grape Nuts Flakes Program starring Orson Wells, who's pinch-hitting for Jack Benny, with Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Rochester, and yours truly, Don Wilson.

Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, before we start the program, let us re-enact for you a little scene which took place a short while ago, in a drug store near the NBC building here in Hollywood. The time: exactly 15 minutes before the broadcast. Take it away, drugstore..."

Guest Host:   Orson Welles

The Show:   Mary, Don, Phil and Dennis all meet up at the drug store prior to the broadcast (as is probably obvious from this and other episodes, this was when you could get sandwiches and other foods at drugstores).  Drugstore employees/soda jerks  Gilroy (writer Ed Beloin) and Radcliffe--the guy who keeps bumping his head (Bill Morrow)-- take the gang's food orders.  Orson Welles' secretary Mrs. Harrington (Verna Felton) shows up at the drug store to announce that Orson is on his way.  Mrs. Harrington wants the store cleaned up before Orson arrives; when she asks Gilroy "when did you put on that shirt you're wearing?", Gilroy answers "in 1937, when I left Stratford, Connecticut"---an in-joke which is true of Gilroy's portrayer, Ed Beloin. Orson rejects the play that the Benny staff writers have sent for tonight's program; Orson says he'll write one himself before Gilroy and Radcliffe offer to write one for him.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "It Can't Be Wrong"

27.    04/04/43               HOST: ORSON WELLES
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Night Train To Memphis"

Guest Host:
   Orson Welles is still subbing for the still ill Jack Benny

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "As Time Goes By" (from "Casablanca")

Note:    I've found that copies of this show are often actually duplicates of last weeks' episode. This is most likely because the introduction of both shows are nearly identical.

28.    04/11/43            JACK RETURNS AFTER ILLNESS
Orchestra Opening:  The orchestra opens the program with "I Don't Want Anybody"

Show Introduction
"The Grape Nuts Flakes Program with Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Rochester, and yours truly, Don Wilson. And back with us after an absence of five weeks, Jack Benny~!"

Don's Introduction:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to take you to Jack Benny's home in Beverly Hills, where Jack is convalescing from his recent illness. The time: shortly before noon today. The place: Jack's bedroom. Take it away, Beverly Hills~!...."

The Show:   Jack's Back! The show opens with Rochester mixing up the medicine (yes I worked in a Bob Dylan reference, thank you very much folks~!) for Jack...cough medicine with gin.  Jack gets a nice round of applause from the studio audience for his first line of dialog in 5 weeks.  Jack's been staying in bed...but he's so cheap his heating pad was a toaster with a towel wrapped around it (I love that joke).  The cast keeps praising the great job Orson Welles did as fill-in for Jack, making Jack jealous.  Jack's doctor (Frank Nelson, of course) pays a visit. When Jack says he has to get better because he has a broadcast to do today, his doctor asks "why, is Orson Welles sick?" Phil and Mary show up, and Phil asks Jack if he still has that crazy boarder, Mr. Billingsley. Jack says yes, but he's not crazy.  Mr. Billingsley then makes a brief but amusing cameo.

The cast are waiting for Dennis and Don to arrive so they can rehearse the program in Jack’s bedroom. When they show, Dennis asks Jack how he is feeling, and gets off one of my all-time favorite Dennis lines when Jack says he’s getting better:

Jack: “…and I have a hunch we’re gonna have a pretty good show today”

Dennis: “Without Orson Welles!?”

Jack: “Yes”

Dennis: “Gosh, the Orson Welles Program without Orson Welles?! I worry about things like that”.

Orson’s secretary Mrs. Harrington (Verna Felton, usually heard here lately as Dennis Day's mom, again) shows up to announce that Orson will be arriving soon, so she wants Jack’s bedroom cleaned up. Welles’ arrival is accompanied by a loud orchestra fanfare and his announcement “This is Orson Welles”. Orson takes over the rehearsal for the program, angering Jack even more. Jack says that Orson isn’t even ON the program this week; Orson says he know, but he’ll be listening, and it’s about time the listeners had a say in radio. After Dennis' song, the wheels start to come off the wagon as the show veers as close to anarchy as it had in a few years. Jack flubs Orson's name, then remarks "it took him 10 years to build up the name Orson Welles, I made it Oris in one second". Then Don Wilson flubs a line when he tells Jack they haven't rehearsed the Sportsmen commercial yet. When Jack says that people don't tune in to hear commercials, Orson argues the point and begins a commercial for Grape Nuts, as Jack calls him "Oswald". This cracks Orson up, and he says "now you KNOW I can't louse up the sponsor's name". This completely cracks up the audience, and the cast. They gain composure long enough for Jack's doctor to return and accidentally give Jack a sleeping pill instead of a vitamin. The show ends as Jack falls asleep.

A very funny episode, that almost devolves into chaos near the end. Again the show plays up the image of Orson Welles as a young wunderkind, very high-class and educated. It's amusing to think that at the time of this broadcast, Orson was 27 years old: only 1 year older than Dennis Day.

Dennis' song:   Dennis sings "We Musn't Say Goodbye"

Note:    This is the first episode with all of the members of the "core" cast (Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Don Wilson and "Rochester") since Phil Harris left for the Merchant Marines after the 12/06/1942 show (episode 10). There were guest conductors filling in for Phil, and then when Phil finally returned Jack was out sick.  The nadir, if you will, of this period was the show with Burns and Allen hosting while Jack, Mary, and Phil were all absent.  Jack was absent for five weeks...interestingly, Jack's later contract with the American Tobacco Company would have a clause that Jack would basically forfeit his salary and show if he missed 5 consecutive weeks.

29.    04/18/43            JACK OPENS SWIMMING POOL FOR SEASON
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Here Comes the Navy"

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to take you to the backyard of Jack's home in Beverly Hills, where Jack has been spending a great deal of time the past week out in the open air. It's yesterday morning....take it awayyyyy, Beverly Hills...."

Guest Star:
  Loretta Young guest stars, making a war bond plea.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Night and Day"

Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "That Old Black Magic" (which Don announces as "Black Magic")

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who sold more carnations in the Easter Parade this morning than any other vendor in the Los Angeles area...Jack Benny~!"

Dennis' Song
:  Dennis sings a medley of "April Showers" and "Would It Be Wrong?"

Note:    Although others' experience may vary, it seems difficult to find good quality audio copies of the run of shows from this one to the end of the season.  Many have the "tape" speed running way too slow, or a lot of tape warbling and flutter.

31.    05/02/43            RENTING EDDIE CANTOR'S HOUSE
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Charlie Zero"

Don's Introduction:
   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who lost $50 on Rochester's horse in the Kentucky Derby yesterday and took it like a man---it says here---Jack Benny~!"

Guest Star: 
   Guest Eddie Cantor, who also makes  war bond plea.
Dennis' Song:
  Dennis sings "In The Blue of the Evening"

32.    05/09/43            JACK JAMS WITH LOUIS ARMSTRONG
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Gee, But It's Fun"

Don's Introduction:

The Show:   Jack is still mad at Rochester because he lost $50 betting on Rochester's horse in the Kentucky Derby.  While in "hiding" from Benny at the Mississippi Barbecue Palace, Rochester meets up with Louis Armstrong.
Note:   The Spring 2000 issue of "Old Time Radio Digest" reprints a very fascinating article written by Jack Benny show "script girl" Jane Tucker that goes into the writing of this episode, by Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin,  in great detail.  It's a great insight into how the show's storyline and gags, were written, including examples of jokes being changed and edited out.
Note:  Most circulating copies of this episode are very warbly, with cuts at the beginning of the show.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Little Mother of Mine"

33.    05/16/43            RANCHO BENNY
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Tonight's the Night"

Don's Introduction:  

Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the Marine base at Camp Pendleton, California we bring you our two-fisted Master of Ceremonies..."

Jack:   "Well~!"

Don:   "A man who has been known to chin himself ten times before he could pull down the handle on a slot machine...Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
  The show is broadcast from Camp Pendleton, a Marine training station near San Diego California.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "In My Arms"

Note:   The opening orchestra performance is not the Neil Young song, although how awesome would that have been? (of course it wouldn't be written for another 33 or so years, but...)

34.    05/23/43            PARACHUTE JUMP
Orchestra Opening:   The orchestra opens the program with "Something For The Boys"

Don's Introduction:
    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, from the recreation hall here at Gardner Field, we bring you that old-time pin-up boy, Jack Benny~!"

On Location:
From Gardner Field, near Taft, California.

Bob Crosby and his Orchestra play.
Dennis' Song
  Dennis sings "You'll Never Know"

35.    05/30/43            GUEST: DEANNA DURBIN
Orchestra Opening:

Show Opening:   "The Grape Nuts Flakes Program, starring Jack Benny~! With Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Rochester, your truly Don Wilson, and our special guest this evening, Deanna Durbin~!"

Don's Introduction:  

Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the last time this season we bring you a man who, for the past 35 weeks, has either entertained or bored you with his comedy...

Jack:   "Hmmm..."

Don:   "A man who many of you will have to hate...will hate to see leave the air, and an equal number will jump for joy"

Jack:   "I don't know why you'd be nervous on the last program...I could imagine the FIRST one, yes, but....go ahead Don"

Don:   "well, so here he is, folks. A man the whole world is anxious to hear. BUT, on the other hand..."

Jack:   "Never mind~!  Jack Benny~! Applause~!"

Guest Star:   Deanna Durbin
Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "You Rhyme With Everything That's Beautiful"

Note:  Last show of the season. The summer replacement show is "Those We Love".

Note:    As noted above, Deanna Durbin gets specially listed in the opening cast announcement at the beginning of the show.  Instances such as this fascinate me;  arguably much larger stars than Deanna Durbin had guested on the Jack Benny program over the years prior to this episode and not received special guest star billing during the show's opening.
What circumstances would lead Deanna Durbin to be listed?

Note:     This is the last "regular" episode of the Jack Benny Show to be written by the team of Ed Beloin and Bill Morrow (Beloin co-wrote the 06/11/1943 "Camel Comedy Caravan Special" without Morrow). The partnership ended due to Morrow being drafted.  I go into more detail on this on "The Writers" page, but it is possible that it was at least considered having Ed Beloin write the show without Morrow; the 06/11/1943 special was perhaps a "trial run" of a show written without Morrow. The Camel special was co-written by Bobby O'Brian, of whom I've been able to find out little information so far. There are no writers credited on-air for the September 1943 Cairo show, but it is doubtful it was written by Beloin.

xx.   06/11/43            CAMEL COMEDY CARAVAN SPECIAL

The Show:   As with the Cairo special listed below,  for all intents and purposes this is a de-facto Jack Benny show episode.  This was the second in a series of 5 Friday night specials by the Camel cigarette company dedicated to "our fighting forces".  It stars Jack, Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Don Wilson, and Rochester, with cameos by Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet. My copy is missing the very beginning and Don Wilson's introduction of Jack.

After Don's introduction, he and Jack talk for a bit, then Mary, and shortly after Dennis, enter. Ken Niles enters a talks briefly with Jack before leading into a commercial for Camel cigarettes. The commercial is so cheesily written that half-way through Jack ad-libs "And I thought DON WILSON was corny....go ahead..", which gets a big laugh from the studio audience and seems to momentarily through Niles off. He delivers the commercial in a stereotypical 1940s "radio commercial" voice, which makes you realize how good Don Wilson was at what he did.  After the commercial Dennis sings "You Could Hear a Pin Drop".  After the song Phil Harris enters, and the cast perform a take-off on the Fred Allen feature "Allen's Alley", called "Benny's Boulevard". Jack does his usual imitation of Allen by putting a clothespin on his nose, and Mary plays the Portland Hoffa part as "Seattle". After the spoof there is a short "Yank of The Week" salute by Camel, followed by the orchestra playing "Cabin in The Sky".

Then the Benny "Take it Or Starve" Players present "The Case of The Stolen Dog", or "Who Picked Mrs. Pike's Peke". Jack plays Captain O' Benny, Mary is Mrs Pike, Don is the fat butler, and Dennis is Sgt. O'Day.  Needing someone to play the chauffeur, Jack tries to call Rochester, but first gets the "Morrow Fish Market". When he reaches Rochester, he finds that he is having a party in Jack's absence. After talking with him, Jack hangs up without asking Roch to come and play the part. After the play, we get another Camel commercial.

The script for this show was written by Ed Beloin and Bobby O'Brian.  Although there is no on-air writing credit on the September 13th Cairo special, it is likely that this was the last script done for Benny by Ed Beloin, as next season the new writers take over.

This is a very entertaining special, and it definitely deserves a place  in any collection of the Jack Benny program, as it is much more of a regular Benny show than almost all of Jack's other guest appearances. Jack cracks up several times, and appears a bit "looser" than on a normal Benny episode.  The special also foretells the future somewhat, as Jack's own show would wind up with a cigarette brand for a sponsor in 2 years.

XX.    09/13/43           SPECIAL: USO SHOW FROM CAIRO
The Show:   Even though this isn't a Jack Benny Show per se, this is well-worth tracking down. It is a special transmission by the USO, of a show done at 1:00am in Cairo by Benny's USO touring group. It bears more then a passing resemblance to his regular show. The cast is Jack, actress Anna Lee, harmonica player Larry Adler, and singer Winnie Shaw.  There are opening jokes by Jack and the announcer, two musical interludes ("Begin the Beguine" by Adler and "Lady in Red" by Shaw), a fake commercial for pyramid builders that cracks Jack up, and a sketch about Larry and Jack in an Egyptian bazaar. It's not as laugh-out-loud funny as regular episodes are, but its a comical and entertaining curiosity nonetheless.

The success of the Benny-led USO shows was reported in the October 9, 1943 issue of "Billboard" magazine:

"New York, Oct.2---with arrival here Tuesday (28) of Jack Benny, Winnie Shaw and Jack Snyder, Offshore Unit 84 of USO-Camp Show Inc. completed a 10-week trek which carried it thru Central Africa, Nigeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Persia, Palestine, Sicily, and finally took showbiz stars for the first time to Italy.  Larry Adler and Anna Lee, remaining members of the troupe, who christened themselves The Five Jerks to Cairo, are still overseas....the company averaged two hour-and-three-quarter shows a day, and gave over 150 performances during the 32,000 mile hike....aside from emcee chore, monolog and a sketch with Anna Lee, Benny lugged his fiddle all over the Middle East. "I gave 'em everything but 'The Bee'", he said with satisfaction".