THE 1943-1944 SEASON
The show returns with Grape Nuts Flakes still the sponsor, and the same cast: Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, and Dennis Day. Before the year is out Dennis will leave the program for a stint in the Navy (actually, according to an episode broadcast upon his return, he spends the next eighteen months locked in Jack's den for refusing to sign a new contract!). 
The cliche is that, while there was almost constant change in the Jack Benny Program during the 1930s, the 1940s were a stable and relatively change-free decade for the program. The 1943-1944 season, however, would prove to have both temporary and far-reaching changes for the show.

The biggest change this season is a huge....a whole new writing staff take over for the departing team of Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin: Sam Perrin, Milt Josefsberg, George Balzer, and John Tackaberry. There was originally another writer as well, as reported in the August 7, 1943 issue of "Billboard":  "Cy Howard, of the executive sales staff of WBBM, is back from a vacation at Mackinac Island and is preparing to assume his new duties as scripter for Jack Benny when Benny returns to the air in the fall". The October 2, 1943 "Billboard" reported: "Four new writers have joined Jack Benny show: Cy Howard, Milt Josefberg, 'Tack' Tackaberry and George Balzer will handle scripting..".
But Cy lasted only about thirteen weeks before leaving, and Sam Perrin would be the fourth writer.

Some of the other changes take place with the Benny supporting cast.

On the December 6, 1942 broadcast of Texaco Star Theatre, Fred Allen had introduced a new feature, "Allen's Alley".  The segment would begin with a stated question, and then Allen would wander down the alley, asking the question of several colorful residents. It would prove to be quite popular, and would come to highlight such great supporting cast members as Minerva Pious (Mrs. Pansy Nussbaum), John Doe (John Brown), and Alan Reed (Falstaff Openshaw) among others. 

Fred Allen broadcast his last program of the 1942-1943 season on June 13, 1943--but due to health-related reasons, he would not return to the air until December 12, 1943, three months into the 1943-1944 season. And so Allen cast mainstays Minerva Pious and John Brown came over to the Benny program for these three months.  Still others added to the show this year were Butterfly McQueen as Mary Livingstone's maid, Arthur Q. Bryan as the sponsor Mr. Mortimer, and Ollie O'Toole. Two other relative newcomers to the program, though, would stick around for far longer.

Mel Blanc had made just ten appearances on the Jack Benny program over the previous seven years, mainly as the "voice" of Carmichael the Polar Bear. Beginning this season, however, Blanc would become a "regular", making twelve appearances on the program this season alone. This season also sees Sara Berner's debut (on October 24, 1943). Berner would play many roles on the program, her most popular being the sarcastic telephone operator Mabel Flapsaddle.

This will be the last year with Grape Nuts Flakes as a sponsor.  The show would finish 5th overall in the ratings for the third straight year, with a Hooper rating of 27.9.

1.    10/10/43            JACK RECALLS HIS AFRICA TRIP
Show Opening:   "The Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program, coming to you from New York City and starring Jack Benny. With Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Dennis Day, Rochester, and yours truly Don Wilson"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as you probably know, Jack Benny has just returned from a camp tour overseas. So, we take you back a few days to LaGuardia Airport to show you what happened when Jack arrived"

On Location:  From New York City.

The Show:   Jack arrives back to America at NY's LaGuardia Airport, and is brought by Crowley the cabdriver to the Acme Hotel. Crowley is convinced that Jack must've met his
brother in Africa.  The usual cast returns, with Minerva Pious and John Brown, from the Fred Allen Show, joining until the Allen show returns in December. 
This show marks the beginning of the new bunch of writers for the show--Sam Perrin, Milt Joesfsberg, George Balzer, and John Tackaberry  (and, as noted above, very briefly Cy Howard). Week one is a very well-done effort from the new writers. Although it would take them a short while to hit their stride, a "golden age "of Jack Benny shows were about to be aired. In my opinion, once the new writers settled in, the program would be significantly funnier than the Morrow-Beloin written years (not that the Morrow-Beloin years weren't funny; far from it) more "sophisticated", perhaps, with less reliance on as many film and play spoofs, and more character-driven, sitcom-esque humor. When people look back now and remember classic Benny "old time radio" radio episodes, it is more often than not from the Perrin/Josefsberg/Balzer/Tackaberry years.

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "People Will Say We're In Love".

Note: The role of Blossom Rappaport is Minerva Pious' debut on the Jack Benny Program. Writer Cy Howard appears as Irving Rappaport.

Note:  From The September 13, 1943 issue of BROADCASTING:
"Originating the first broadcast from New York and postponing original plans by one week, General Foods Corp. resumes its weekly NBC Jack Benny Show Oct. 10, Sunday 7-7:30 pm (EWT), thus giving the comedian opportunity to extend his overseas personal appearance tour. Mary Livingstone, Dennis Day, Rochester (Eddie Anderson) and Phil Harris, musical director, will join Benny in New York for initial broadcasts. Added to the cast will be Minerva Pious and John Brown who portray Mrs. Nussbaum and John Doe respectively on the Fred Allen Show. Walter Bunker is the producer for Young & Rubicam.
2.    10/17/43            CASABLANCA
Don's Introduction:
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen...say, Mary, uh, Mary...are you sure it's all right?"
Mary:   "Certainly, isn't it, Phil?"
Phil:   "Surrre, go ahead Don"
Don:   "Okay....and now, ladies and gentlemen, for the second broadcast of the season, we bring you the first lady of Grape Nuts, Ms. Mary Livingstone!"

On Location:   From New York City.

The Show:   Ever since his trip to Africa and Egypt, Jack wants to be in the military. He commands his new writer to march, military-style, and makes Dennis keep guard outside
his room at night. Crowley the cabbie shows up at Jack's house, still insisting that Jack must've met his brother in Africa. A reporter from Associated Press stops by Jack's, questioning him about his trip, and his question leads into the "main sketch", a very short take-off on Casablanca, with Jack as Rick, Rochester as Sam, and Mrs. Nussbaum as Ingrid!  Jack makes a plea for the WACS to end the show.
Another well-done effort from the new writers, who get name-checked when they're forced to march.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "How Sweet You Are" and "As Time Goes By"

3.    10/24/43            ALGIERS
Don's Introduction:   "Ladies and gentlemen, immediately after last week's broadcast in New York, Jack Benny and his gang left for California. So now we take you aboard the train, where we pick them up one day before their arrival in Hollywood"

The Show:   Jack and the cast left by train for California immediately after the last show, in New York.  We flash back to the train ride, where Jack is checking the gossip columns to see if anyone is mentioning his return.  Jack also wants someone to play gin rummy with.  On the train, Jack and Mary have lunch with a Ms Farrell (Sara Berner). She shows Jack a picture of her boyfriend, Corporal Joe Crowley, brother of the NYC cabdriver~!  When Dennis sings "I Heard You Cried Last Night", some circulating copies of the show skip badly during this section.
After the song, we are back in the studio in California.  A United Press reporter stops by to ask Jack some questions about his North Africa trip, including Algiers...which triggers another flash back; Jack in the Casbah in Algiers in 1938.  Jack plays jewel thief Pepe LeMoko, with his gang 3 Fingers Harris and Dennis the Derelict, with Mary as Inez.   Using a hysterically bad accent, Jack ad libs a line to Mary, "Inez, my little cobra....Claudette Cobra....that I just put in there, it is what you call ad lib".
Minerva Pious has a cameo as Mrs. Nusbaum, playing Ingrid again from last week's Casablanca parody, again singing "As Time Goes By".  Another very funny episode by the new writers.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I Heard You Cried Last Night"

Note:  The role of Ms Farrell is Sara Berner's debut on the Jack Benny Program. Sara would play many roles during her time on the Benny show, including (beginning with the 1945-1946 season) the recurring role of telephone operator Mabel Flapsaddle.

4.    10/31/43            JUST BEFORE AIR TIME
Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, since tonight is Halloween, we bring you a man who can't wait 'til it gets dark so he can ring door bells, tip over ash cans and write "I love Jack Benny" all over Bob Hope's house...Jack Benny!"

The Show:   A Halloween Show.  There is a very long "cold opening" before Don gets to his introduction, and the first eleven minutes of the show take place in the "fifteen minutes before air time". Rochester is attending the show with his niece Butterfly (Butterfly McQueen). The Grape Nuts sponsor Mr. Mortimer (played by Arthur Q. Bryan, who was also did the voice for Warner Bros' cartoon character Elmer Fudd) tries to attend but cannot get in despite numerous attempts. The show finally "begins" nine minutes in with the introductions and music.
Ed Goetz, (Frank Nelson) reporter for the International News Service visits to ask Jack questions about his overseas trip. He asks Jack about Brazil, and this triggers yet another flash back...Jack in Brazil.  This is the third consecutive week the writers used the device of a reporter asking Jack questions which lead to a flash back sketch.  This section of the show is extremely funny, with Jack doing an outrageous accent that sounds like he is constantly on the verge of cracking up.  Dennis sings "Brazil", which Jack also plays on his violin (though it turns into a Grape Nuts commercial~!)

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Brazil".

Note:   This episode's title was previously listed as "Jack Pretends He Is Going To Brazil"

Don's Introduction:  
Don:   "Ladies and gentlemen, today we're broadcasting from the Marine Corps Air Station in the Mojave desert. This week they're celebrating the 168th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps {airplane and gun noises start}. So, without further ado, we bring you a man....
Jack:   "Hmm..."
Don:   "Jack, Jack, did they get you?"
Jack:   "No no, Don, I'm all right"
Don:   "For a minute I thought they spoiled my opening speech"
Jack:   "No, don't be ridiculous, Do, they weren't shooting at me! Go ahead with the introduction"
Don:   "Ladies and gentlemen, as this is the 168th anniversary of the founding of the Marine Corps {airplane and gun noises begin again}, without further ado we bring you a man..."
Jack:   "Hmm..."
Don:   "Jack, did they get you this time?"
Jack:   "Don, don't be silly, I told you they weren't shooting at me, now go ahead"
Don:   "So without further ado, we bring you a man with two holes in his hat, Jack Benny!"

On Location:   The Marine Corps Air Station, Mojave, California

The Show:

Dennis' Song
:   Dennis sings "Oh, What A Beautiful Morning".

6.    11/14/43            THE LONE PALM

Orchestra Opening:

Don's Introduction: "Ladies and gentlemen, tonight we are broadcasting from Palm Springs for the Torney Hospital and the Twenty-First Air Ferry we take you back a few hours and pick up Jack and the gang, who are on their way here by plane...they are now 5000 feet in the air, headed for Palm Springs"

On Location:    Palm Springs, California

The Show:

Dennis' Song
   Dennis sings "My Heart Tells Me".

7.    11/21/43           JACK DREAMS HE IS A TURKEY
Don's Introduction:   "Ladies and gentlemen, it's four days before Thanksgiving, and this year, as every year, Jack Benny will entertain his friends on the yesterday, Jack and Mary went shopping, and we pick them up now in a local market..."

The Show:   It's four days before Thanksgiving, and we flash back to "yesterday", as Jack and Mary are at the butchers, turkey shopping.  Feeling sympathy for the poor turkeys, Jack decides to take a live one home.  Minerva Pious has a bit at the butchers as "Mrs Greenberg".  One the way home, walking the turkey on a leash, Jack and Mary run into Mr. Billingsley (Ed Beloin).
In the second half of the show, Jack dreams that he is a turkey.  Not a very funny episode, despite a few nice jokes.  Parts of it just seem to fall flat, with no audience response at all.  However, this one is not to be confused with what Josefsburg called "one of the worst shows Jack ever did", the 11/30/1947  "Turkey Dream" episode.   Perhaps turkey episodes brought out the worst in Jack's writers~?  At the end of the episode, Jack plugs the Thanksgiving morning broadcast of "Soldiers in Greasepaint".

Dennis' Song: Dennis sings "Say a Prayer for the Boys Over There".

Note:   Phil Harris does not appear in this episode (next week he complains that he "didn't have any lines" in this episode)

8.    11/28/43            DENNIS WANTS A RAISE
Orchestra Introduction:   The orchestra opens the program with "Oklahoma"

Don's Introduction: 
Don:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you---
Barbara Stanwyck:   "Oh Don, Don Wilson..."
Don:   "Yes?"
Barbara:   "It's Barbara, Barbara Stanwyck"
(introduction continues into the first routine)

The Show:   Barbara Stanwyck interrupts Don's introduction....Jack asked her to take Mary's place this week due to Mary's laryngitis.  Meanwhile, Dennis is in the hallway with Jack, asking for a raise. Jack points out to Dennis that while he only makes $35 a week, he only works for two minutes each week, and is therefore earning $17.50 per minute~!  Rochester agrees to bring his niece Butterfly (Butterfly McQueen) over to interview for the job of Mary's maid. And Phil is upset that he didn't have any lines on last week's program. Minerva Pious appears again as Mrs. Greenberg.
A return to form after the previous weeks' disappointing episode.

Guest Star:   Barbara Stanwyck

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Star Eyes".

Note:   Mary Livingstone does not appear in this episode

Note:   In the episode introduction, after receiving applause from the crowd, Barbara Stanwyck says a quick "thank you" before resuming with the dialog.

Note:   Mary Livingstone does not appear in this episode.

9.    12/05/43            JACK GETS A DRIVER'S LICENSE
Orchestra Opening:    The orchestra opens the program with "Great Day"

Don's Introduction:   "And now, ladies and gentlemen, before we start our show, I know you've all been anxiously awaiting news of the big conference in session since last week. So, we take you to the actual scene where they're discussing the great problem of the day..."

The Show:   Dennis is still in the hallway asking Jack for a raise (Dinah Shore has a one word cameo.."hello"). Mary still has laryngitis, and does not appear.  Jack calls over to Mary's house to check on how Butterfly (Butterfly McQueen) and Rochester are doing. Rochester tells Jack that notice that Jack needs to renew his drivers license came in the mail.  After Dennis sings a Christmas medley of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas", Jack and Rochester go to the motor vehicle department to renew the license. Minerva Pious is there, again as "Mrs Greenberg", and Frank Nelson is the driving instructor.

Dennis' Song: Dennis sings a medley of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and "White Christmas"

Note:   Mary Livingstone does not appear in this episode
10.    12/12/43            DENNIS' MOTHER VISIT

Jack's Pre-Show PSA:   "Ladies and gentlemen, this is Jack Benny, and I want to take a moment to ask you NOT to do something. For by not doing it, you can help our boys in the armed services. Don't do any traveling during the holiday season that isn't absolutely necessary. Remember that thousands of soldiers, sailors, and well as the WAVES and WACS...are looking forward to spending Christmas with their families. And believe me they've certainly earned the trip home. And surely none of us would want to cheat one of our boys out of such a furlough. Maybe some of you have felt that, just one more pleasure trip isn't going to disrupt the country's transportation system. But if millions of people feel that way, you can easily see what happens: trains and buses become crowded far beyond capacity, so that traveling is no pleasure anyway. So, please, take it seriously folks. Let's give them a chance to be together on this one day, of all days"

Don's Introduction:    There is no introduction by Don at the beginning of this episode. The program begins with the studio's ticket taker (John Brown, reprising the role from week four) being asked (by Mel Blanc) which program is being broadcast from the studio. While answering Blanc, the ticket taker gives the cast introduction.

The Show:   Dennis Day's mother (Verna Felton) visits to talk to Jack about giving Dennis a raise. Dennis' mom sits in the front row for Jack's radio broadcast, and after some verbal sparring with Jack she interrupts his attempt to continue the show with a loud "Ahhhhh, shut up!" that gets an enormously big laugh from the studio audience, one of the longest in the program's history.

Dennis' Song
:   Dennis sings "How Sweet You Are".

Note:   Prior to the show introduction, the program opens with Jack Benny making a plea asking people not to do any unnecessary traveling during this wartime holiday season, as noted above. The "WAVES and WACS" Jack refers to are the Women's Army Corps and the Women's Navy Corps.

Note:   Mary Livingstone does not appear in this episode.

Note:    Since her last appearance on the Benny program had been the previous season,  this is the first crack that the new writers have had at the character of Dennis Day's mother, Lucretia (Verna Felton)


Don's Introduction:   "Ladies and gentlemen, as you know, Mary Livingstone has been off the show for three weeks because of laryngitis. So now that she has fully recovered, we take you to her house where we find Mary and her maid, Butterfly"

The Show:

Dennis' Song:  Dennis sings "Speak Low".

Note:   Mary Livingstone returns to the show after missing three weeks. Butterfly McQueen again appears as Mary's maid

12.    12/26/43            CHRISTMAS AT JACK'S HOUSE
Don's Introduction:    "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we would like to turn the clock back about twenty hours and take you to Jack Benny's house.  It's Christmas night and Jack is expecting a few of his friends over. It's about a quarter to eight, and Rochester is preparing for the arrival of the guests"

The Show:

Guest Star:   Andy Devine

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

13.    01/02/44            ANNUAL NEW YEARS EVE SHOW

Orchestra Opening:

Dennis' Song
:   Dennis sings "(This Will Be) My Shining Hour".

14.    01/09/44            JACK PICKS UP HIS NEW PET CAMEL
Orchestra Opening:

Dennis' Song
:   Dennis sings "My Heart Tells Me".

15.    01/16/44            FROM CAMP EL TORO, CALIFORNIA
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From the Marine Air Base at El Toro, California.

The Show:   The guest is Alexis Smith. Jack announces the launching of a Liberty Ship yesterday at Wilmington, California, named the
"Carole Lombard".  Show also includes a war bond plea.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I've Had That Feeling Before".

16.    01/23/44            FROM CAMP MUROC, CALIFORNIA
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From Army Air Field located on Dry Lake at Muroc, California, for the entertainment of men in the services. Alexis Smith guests again.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes".

17.    01/30/44            THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT
Orchestra Opening:

Guest Stars:   The guests are Raoul Walsh, director of Jack's movie "The Horn Blows at Midnight"; James Kern, one of the writers of the picture; and it's producer, Mark Hellinger.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Poinciana".

18.    02/06/44            FROM TERMINAL ISLAND
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From Roosevelt Naval Base on Terminal Island, the Navy's small craft training center.

This is the last show for Minerva Pious.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "My Ideal".

19.    02/13/44             FROM MARCH FIELD
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From March Field, California, Air Base of the Fourth Air Force.

Guest Star:   The guest is Larry Adler, harmonica player, who was in the same USO unit with Jack on his entertainment
tour of the Mediterranean Theatre of Operations, and appears on the 9/13/43 USO special from Cairo.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Besame Mucho".

20.    02/20/44           THE GILROY MURDER CASE
Orchestra Opening:

Guest Star:  Groucho Marx guest stars.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "I've Got You Under My Skin".

21.    02/27/44           HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From the Hollywood Canteen.

Guest Stars:   The guests are Larry Adler, and Eddie Cantor, who makes an announcement regarding his search for G.I. Joe.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Two Heavens".

22.    03/05/44            FROM LEMOURE AIR BASE
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From Lemoure Air Field, in central California, for the entertainment of Air Force Cadets training at the center.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening"/"The Way You Look Tonight".

23.    03/12/44            FROM LIVEMORE AIR BASE
Orchestra Opening:

On Location:   From the Naval Air Base in Livermore, California.

Dennis' Song
   Dennis sings "Pretty Kitty Blue Eyes".

24.    03/19/44            DENNIS DREAMS HE HAS A RADIO PROGRAM
From Hollywood. Barbara Stanwyck.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "The River of the Roses".

Dennis' Song
:   Dennis sings "I'll Get By".

From Hollywood.

Guest Star:   Louella Parsons

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "It's Spring Again".
27.    04/09/44            REPAIRING JACK'S SIDEWALK
From Hollywood.

Guest Star    Basil Rathbone.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Long Ago and Far Away".

28.    04/16/44            BOB HOPE PARODY
On Location:   From Stockton, California, for entertainment of servicemen at Stockton Air Base.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Now I Know"/"On the Road to Mandalay".

29.    04/23/44            DENNIS LEAVES FOR THE NAVY
On Location:   From Vancouver Municipal Auditorium, British Columbia. To make things very meta-confusing, this is the real-life Sadye Marks' birthplace. It is not the original birthplace of the character that Sadye plays, Mary Livingstone, however that is forgotten for this episode;  so it takes place in "Mary's" hometown.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis sings "Amour" (his last song on the program before leaving for the Navy).

30.    04/30/44            DICK HAYMES SUBS FOR DENNIS
On Location:   From Bremerton Navy Yards, Washington.
Dennis' Song:  Dennis does not appear on this episode.

31.    05/07/44            THE MAKING OF 'THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT'
On Location:   From Whidbey Island, Washington, Naval Air Station.

Guest Star:   Dick Haymes is the guest singer again.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis does not appear on this episode.

32.    05/14/44            THE INFANTRY
On Location:   From Camp Adair, Orgeon. Pvt. Luther Balliet sings.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis does not appear on this episode.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis does not appear on this episode.

34.    05/28/44            THE LIFE STORY OF JACK BENNY
Guest Star:   Guest is Danny Kaye.

Dennis' Song:   Dennis does not appear on this episode.
The last program for the season. This is also the last program sponsored by Grape Nuts Flakes. The replacement show is "The Adventures of the Thin Man".
Dennis' Song:   Dennis does not appear on this episode.