THE 1937-1938 SEASON

"THE JELL-O PROGRAM STARRING JACK BENNY" was once again broadcast on Sunday evenings from 7:00 to 7:30pm Eastern Time on the NBC radio network.

1937-1938 SEASON CAST:

Jack Benny: Master of Ceremonies/Mary Livingstone: MC'S Girlfriend/Rochester Van Jones: MC's Butler/Phil Harris: Orchestra Leader/Don Wilson: Announcer/Kenny Baker: Vocalist

Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin: Writers.

Jack, Mary and Phil are the only actors credited at the beginning of an episode.

Beginning with this season, every episode ends with an announcement that Kenny Baker appears through the courtesy of Mervin LeRoy Productions. 

The "Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny" finished second overall in the Hooper Ratings for the 1937-1938 radio season (losing out to only the Chase and Sanborn Hour Starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy), with a year-end rating of 34.0. 

The Cooperative Analysis of Broadcasting (C.A.B.) ratings report for the time period of October 1937 to April 1938 also shows the Jell-O Program finishing in second place overall with a 36% share of the audience, behind the Chase and Sanborn Hour Starring Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy's 40% share. It reported that the Jell-O Program finished second for all seven months.

In third place was the Kraft Music Hall with 28%,in fourth was the Lux Radio Theatre with 26%, and in fifth place was Eddie Cantor (Texaco) with a 25% ratings share. Rounding out the top ten were Burns & Allen (Grape Nuts), the Major Bowes Amateur Hour (Chrysler), the Rudy Vallee program (Royal Gelatin) and Town Hall Tonight (Fred Allen), all tied for sixth place with 23% ratings shares, and in tenth place was Al Jolson (Rinso) with 21%

The episode log/guide for the1937-1938 Season Review was written by Graeme Cree.

1.    10/03/37            LOST

The NBC Program Analysis Sheets note:   Jack Benny returns. Permanent cast includes Benny, Mary Livingstone, Kenny Baker, Don Wilsin, Phil Harris' orchestra, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn (Shlepperman). (BC)

2.    10/10/37            LOST

3.    10/17/37            LOST

The NBC Program Analysis Sheets note:   Abe Lyman, guest  (BC)

4.    10/24/37            LOST


5.    10/31/37            THE DEVINE FARM     (27:49)

[This appears to be a mislabeled, duplicate copy of the 10-30-1938 episode.  Both episodes are identical, down to the songs and commercials.  But it appears that this one is a duplicate, rather than that the episode was rerun later.  Reason:  At the beginning of the program, Jack, Mary, Phil, Kenny and Don are all credited, which indicates that the episode belongs to the 1938-9 season, rather than 1937-8.  Further evidence:  Barbara Whitney, the date that Phil brings to Jack’s Halloween party, is mentioned prominently for several episodes after 10-30-1938.]


[EPISODES 6-10:  Lost]


11. 12/12/37                CHRISTMAS SHOPPING     (29:25)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Life Begins at Sweet 16" from "Scandals". 

Jack and Don discuss whether Don's intro was meant as an attempt to lobby for a large Christmas present.  Don denies it, but Phil and Mary also enter in a very pallsy-wallsy mood.  Jack thinks they're all angling for presents.  This leads to a discussion of how cheap Jack's presents are, which leads to a discussion of whether or not Jack is a gambler.  The orchestra plays "Dipsy Doodle".  Jack begins abbreviating sentences to save broadcast time.  Everyone else joins in, including Don, who abbrevs the Jell-O Commerc.  Kenny arrives, upset that he found his girlfriend with another guy who she claimed was her brother.  They discuss Kenny's love life.  Kenny frequently buys his girl presents, but this usually means their sharing a pack of gum.  They suggest that Kenny buy his girlfriend stockings, but he's too embarrassed.  Mary offers to buy them, but Kenny suddenly finds the idea strangely alluring.  The Knocking Man delivers a Letter from Momma to Mary, which she reads.  Jack explains that there's no time for a play tonight, as he has to leave early to get his Christmas Shopping done.  Jack and Mary leave to go shopping.  Kenny sings "Am I In Love?" and the action transitions to the department store where Jack is shopping.

PLAY:  None.  Jack leaves the program early to do his Christmas shopping.

SITUATION COMEDY:  The play is replaced by a Sitcom scene that takes place in "One of Hollywood's Biggest Department Stores" (the biggest one without a name, at least).  Jack goes Christmas Shopping.  Despite encountering many kooky characters, he only ends up buying one leaky fountain pen.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that all-around swell guy, a man I'm proud to call my friend, one of the sweetest fellows that I've ever been associated with:  Jack Benny!"

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Elvia Allman, Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bea Benaderet, Frank Nelson, Blanche Stewart

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING:  This is the first "Christmas Shopping" episode, but it later became one of the show's fixtures, and appeared in almost every season.  The general theme of such episodes is Jack in a department store, trying to do his shopping, while encountering offbeat customers and salespeople.  The most prominent feature in later years on was a multi-year confrontation between Jack and Mel Blanc, in which Jack would make a selection, and exchange it a half dozen times.  Mel doesn't appear in this inaugural show, but the general formula for future Christmas Shopping shows is fully established here.

NOTE:  Eddie Anderson shows up as an elevator operator in the department store.  Nobody recognizes him, and he is never identified as Rochester.  An Albuquerque joke, and train noises when the elevator is moving shows that he is intended to be the Train Porter from 3-28-37.  However, in later years it is explicitly stated that Rochester and the Train Porter are the same person, so what gives?  Sometimes I'd swear that Jack's writers just didn't give much thought to how this show would play to 21st century audiences.

NOTE:  Jack mistakenly takes his laundry list instead of his Christmas list to the store.  Mary says she thought he did his own laundry.  Jack says he did his own laundry because he was busy that week.  In later years, Jack's laundry business, which services not only himself but other celebrities, becomes a major fixture of the show.  However, next season (10-23-38), Jack strenuously denies that he does his own laundry.  See previous note about how much of a fig Jack’s writers gave for 21st century audiences trying to tie all this together.

NOTE:  Frank Nelson shows up as a floorwalker in the department store.  Although he does not yet have his later catch phrases of "Yeeeeeees???", or "Oooooooooooh, DO I???", he's the same unctuous official he later became.  But this early on, there's no feeling that he's causing trouble deliberately.  At this point, he seems to be pushed into it by circumstances beyond his control.  Nelson does other roles on the show, some minor, some major, before the first appearance of his “Yes Man” character in 1946.

NOTE:  Bea Benaderet, later prominent as telephone operator Gertrude Gearshift, shows up as a clerk at the stocking counter, waiting on Kenny.

NOTE:  Andy Devine appears in the episode, not as himself, but as an Andy Devine doll, that says "Hiya, Buck!" when wound up.

NOTE:  Shleperman turns up in the department store in his oddest job yet, as a Jewish Santa Claus.  Shleperman was a regular character two years ago, but last year he only appeared when the show was broadcast from New York.  Jack asks when they'll see him again, and his only answer is to burst into a Christmas-themed knockoff of "She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain".

NOTE:  While we're on the subject of Sam Hearn, it should be mentioned that he's also the doctor who delivered Lucy Ricardo in the 1955 I Love Lucy episode, The Passports.

NOTE:  In this episode, we learn that the Knocking Man is bald, despite being named “Harry”.

NOTE:  Just before the orchestra’s second number, we get a good look at the evolution of Jack's character.  Cheapness is starting to become a part of Jack’s character, but it still isn't as advanced as it later became.  Just before the second number, Jack is suckered by Mary, who claims that he's so cheap that he has a police dog in his wallet.  Jack opens his wallet to prove that it isn't true, and a dog barks.  Jack yells that he's been framed, as the number starts.  In later years, there would have been no need to frame Jack, there would REALLY have been a police dog in his wallet.

NOTE:  Mary's Letter From Momma is unusually violent.  It talks about milking the cow in winter with an ice pick, and about how her Uncle Julius went out without earmuffs yesterday, and has to go out without ears today.

NOTE:  At one point, Elvia Allman says of Jack "That's all you can expect of someone who drives a Maxwell!"  As far as I can tell, this is the earliest surviving reference to Jack's Maxwell.

UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR:  The opening commercial contains a letter from a woman who heard them say that Jell-O was good served plain.  This woman actually had nothing better to do than write a letter objecting that Jell-O is never “plain”.  I guess people got pretty bored during the Depression.

FLUB:  A good, “delayed reaction” flub.

Jack:  "It's a fine thing, a girl like you standing on the street flirting with a sailor.  You didn't even know his name."

Mary:  "I did too!"

Jack:  "What was it?"

Mary:  "S.S. Wyoming."

Jack:  "Oh, well you must have seen it some place.  Anyway Phil, if you still want to..."

[Jack cracks up laughing at this point as the idiocy of his previous sentence finally sinks in.]


Jack:  "Then you weren't hinting [about Christmas presents] or anything?"

Don:  "No Jack, I swear it on a box of Jell-O."

Jack:  "What flavor?"

Don:  "Raspberry."

Jack:  "Hmmm..."


Phil:  "And furthermore, that compliment I gave you had nothing to do with a Christmas present."

Jack:  "That's a lie!"

Phil:  "It is not!"

Joe:  "Then take an oath."

Phil:  "All right, may I almost drop dead if I'm lying."

Jack:  "That's fine, Phil.  I'm going to nearly give you a present."

Phil:  "Well, practically thanks."

Jack:  "Let me tell you something, Phil.  The way you've been acting this past year and your general attitude toward me, I wouldn't spend more than 50 cents on you."

Phil:  "You wouldn't spend more than 50 cents on New Year Eve!"


Jack:  "Why is it that you and Phil and Don are always so sweet to me right before Christmas, and so nasty the day after?"

Phil:  "Look at the presents you give us."

Jack:  "Well, what am I supposed to do?  Spend a fortune on gifts for this bunch?"

Mary:  "No, but you're not supposed to win 'em on a punchboard."

JOKE:  (Another example of the Early Cheap Joke.  One in which someone else gives an example of Jack's cheapness, which he denies.  In later years, he would admit to such jokes, but claim that they weren't quite as bad as the teller had suggested (but still well beyond reasonable limits).

Don:  It's getting kind of late.  Now, what kind of a play are we going to do tonight?

Jack:  "Oh, we won't have time for that, Don.  Besides, I've got to get all my Christmas shopping done.  I've been putting it off and off and today I'm going to do it."

Phil:  There goes $8!

Jack:  "I wish that was all!

(You’d never have seen that last line later on).


Elevator Operator:  "Second floor!  Flat Irons, Sofa Pillows, Submarines, Aspirin Tablets and Horse Radish!  Going up!"


Elevator Operator:  "Third Floor!  Stuffed furniture, stuffed owls, stuffed celery, and stuff!"

Jack:  "Stuff?"

Elevator Operator:  "Next stop, Albuquerque!"


Elevator Operator:  "Fourth Floor!  Darning Needles, Knitting Needles, Hypodermic Needles, and Needles, California!"


12.    12/19/37    LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD     (28:41)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "I Double Dare You". 

They discuss Jack's letter to Santa Claus.  He insists he's just following up on that Sled Request from 35 years ago, and that it's important to be a kid at Christmas time.  Jack gives Don a Christmas present (a combo razor and shoe brush that lets you shave and shine at the same time as long as you hang your shoes on your ears).  Don is embarrassed that he forgot to get Jack a present.  Jack insists it's no big deal, but drops veiled threats about firing him.  Phil comes in, and Jack gave him a Christmas present (a scalp mayonnaise hair tonic).  Phil forgot to get Jack a present, too.  More veiled threats.  When Mary comes in, Jack gives her a charm bracelet, but somehow she forgot to get Jack a present too.  She had planned to get him gloves, handkerchiefs, or cigars, but didn't know the size of his hands, nose or mouth.  The Knocking Man drops by with a Christmas greeting.  The orchestra plays "She's Tall, She's Tan, She's Terrific" from "The Cotton Club Parade".  Jack gets a pint of California wine for the boys in the band. (Not one for each, one for the whole band to pass around).  When Kenny comes in, Jack gives him a musical collar button, but doggone it, if Kenny didn't forget to get Jack a present too!  Kenny bought a travelling bag for his girlfriend because she's going to elope with some guy.  Jack starts to introduce the play, when a package arrives.  The package turns out to be a present to Jack from Don, Phil, Mary, Kenny, Andy and even Shleperman.  It's only a twin Waffle Iron, but Jack gushes over it like they gave him the Hope Diamond.  Kenny sings "Once in a While".  Jack introduces the play.  Afterwards, the orchestra closes with an undecipherable song from "Love, I'm Told".

PLAY:  "Little Red Riding Hood", or "Mr. Wolf Goes to Town", a fairly straight re-telling of the story, ending at the point when the woodsman enters to kill the wolf.  Jack plays The Wolf as well as Red's dad, Old Man Hood.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you the only adult in the world who wrote a letter to Santa Claus, Jack Benny."


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  The Man Who Thinks Of Me Every Christmas And His Orchestra

NOTE:  Jack's portrayal of the wolf is really bad.  And not in a good way, either.  To snarl, he actually says the words "Snarl, snarl".

NOTE:  Jack will be on Fred Allen's program next Wednesday, to talk about some big business deal that he refuses to discuss.  We never do find out what it was.

NOTE:  Don’t worry about Jack’s Christmas Waffle Iron, it won’t figure into any future plotlines.  You can never tell with things that they make a big deal about.  Sometimes they hang around a long time, other times they were just there for one-shot jokes.


Don:  This really makes me feel awfully cheap.  You know, I was so busy this week I forgot to get something for you."

Jack:  Oh, what's the dif... What!???


Jack:  "I brought a little present for the boys in your band.  I didn't want to forget them either.  Here it is, a pint of good old California wine."

Phil:  "A pint for each of them?"

Jack:  "No, no Phil.  One bottle for the whole gang."

Phil:  "Okay, put a nipple on it and I'll serve it."


Jack:  "I hope you like [your present], Kenny."

Kenny:  Gee, I can't wait till I lose it!"

WORD ASSOCIATION COMMERCIAL:  This is the first attempt to strong-arm a Word Association Commercial into the program for a long time.  When Kenny says that his girlfriend is going to run away and get married, Don bursts in with "Ladies and Gentlemen, as long as you're running, be sure to run and get a package of Jell-O."  This type of joke was a fixture on Jack's Chevrolet Show, and if you’ve seen those notes, you remember that they got old very fast.


Kenny:  "What's a waffle, Jack?"

Jack:  "Well, it's a cross between a pancake and a doily."


Mary:  "Why Grandma, what a long nose you have!"

Jack:  "The better to win races, my dear!"

Mary:  "And, oh Grandma, what rotten jokes you have!"

NOTE:   While we don't find out in this episode what business deal Jack had in mind to talk with Fred Allen on Allen's show the next week, Randy Watts wrote in to let us know what happened on the Fred Allen program; "Fred has been in California making a movie and is about to go back to New York. Jack shows up to try and sell Fred his Maxwell; Fred declines". Thanks, Randy~! {Note from BC}


[EPISODE 13:  Lost]


14.    01/02/38     LEAVING FOR SAN FRANCISCO NEXT WEEK (29:31)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Don't Cry, Sweetheart, Don't Cry." 

Jack resolves to pay off his debts from last year.  He pays Don the quarter he borrowed last June, but the ten bucks from yesterday count as next year’s debts.  Jack is annoyed that when Phil called him up for a blind date on New Year's Eve, Phil got the looker and Jack got the homely one.  Jack tells a few jokes about his date.  Mary went out on New Year's Eve with a jockey who treated her like a horse.  Phil comes in and points out that he and Jack matched pennies to see which one would get the homely one, so it was fair and square.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number.  Kenny arrives and talks about how Phil tried to get him to go out with an ugly girl on New Year's Eve, but he wasn't dumb enough to fall for it.  For New Year's Eve, Kenny went out with both his girlfriend and her boyfriend, but thinks she prefers her fiancé to both of them.  Andy drops in, looking for Pa.  Andy tries to compliment Jack on his New Year's Eve date, but can't keep a straight face.  Kenny sings "Rolling Flame".  Jack has several distinguished guest stars he's planning to introduce later in the program.  Jack mentions that they're broadcasting from San Francisco next week.  Phil offers to double date.  Rochester phones in to ask about the trip to Frisco.  The orchestra plays "The Lady is a Tramp" from "Babes in Arms".  Jack introduces his first guest star.  The Knocking Man comes by for a quip. 

Guest 1:  Goldie Spun, the only woman in LA who wasn't tested for the part of Scarlett O'Hara.  Goldie has an odd accent that causes her to slip "R's" into words.  (for example, tested = tersted), which may be why she wasn't tersted for the role.

Guest 2:  J. Rutherford Munch, a man who ate more Jell-O in 1937 than anyone else in North America, but who sounds like a little boy.

Guest 3:  A group of aviators recently flew from Russia to California.  Jack can't get those guys, so instead he gets the three Krossmere sisters, singing "Spring Is Here to Stay".

Guest 4:  A man who was thrown out of more night clubs on New Year's Eve than anyone else in California; Playboy Devine, aka Andy's Pa.

PLAY:  None.  Jack's guest stars take up that time.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, 1938 is with us.  And who do you think is standing here at the microphone waiting to greet you one and all?  Is it Fred Allen?

Jack:  "No."

Don:  "Is it Ginger Rogers?"

Jack:  "Noooo!"

Don:  "Is it Clark Gable?"

Jack:  "Is it Jack Benny?"

Don:  "No... I mean yes!!"

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, William Royale, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  Jack's date was Dolores Del Schmutz.  Schmutz is a Yiddish word for dirt.  The name gets a laugh, so the audience probably realized this.

NOTE:  Jack mentions that next Sunday they're broadcasting from San Francisco. 

NOTE:  24 Canadian stations are being added tonight.

NOTE:  Jack and Rochester are driving to San Francisco in his Maxwell.  The Maxwell is now an official part of the show.

JOKE:  (Jack, describing his blind date:)

"It's the only time I ever saw a human Mickey Finn."

NOTE:  Rochester makes his first phone call to the show.  Before long this will happen frequently, as a way of getting Rochester into the program even though he’s a member of Jack’s household, not his cast.

NOTE:  Faux celebrity interviews, like tonight’s guest stars, the gas filler-upper guy from 10/4/36 used to be seen more often on Jack’s show.  Now, only rarely.


Jack:  "I tell you Don, if that girl gets love letters, Dracula writes them."


15.    01/09/38        IN SAN FRANCISCO     (28:28)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "San Francisco, from the motion picture of the same name. 

Everyone discusses the gold rush, and San Francisco today.  A man from the Chamber of Commerce asks Jack to keep his Maxwell off their new bridge.  Mary forgot to write a San Francisco poem, so Jack sends her off to write one.  Kenny arrives, but is embarrassed to be playing in a women's club.  Keny talks what he's been doing in Frisco, and observes that the World's Fair seems deserted.  Jack explains that this is because it doesn't open until 1939.  Jack and Kenny argue about whether Frisco's bridges are Pretty or Very Pretty.  Gladys the phone operator interrupts them.  Kenny starts to sing, but The Knocking Man interrupts with a quick quip.  Kenny sings "When the Organ Played Oh Promise Me".  Kenny compares his voice to a concrete bridge (don't ask), and Mary finishes her poem.  She starts to read, but Gladys interrupts with an update from Phil.  Phil arrives, late from a date again.  Jack and Phil argue again about Dolores Del Schmutz.  Phil starts to introduce the next number, but Gladys interrupts again.  The orchestra plays "Bei Mir Bist du Schön" from "Love, Honor and Behave", with Phil singing a verse.  Andy drops in to talk about Ma and Pa's latest misadventures.  Jack calls Ling Fu's restaurant in Chinatown to reserve a table.  They leave the show early to have dinner, and find that Ling Fu is Shleperman, working yet another offbeat job.  The orchestra closes with "Jubilee" from "Every Day's a Holiday".

PLAY:  None.  They leave the show early to go to a Chinese restaurant.

SITUATION COMEDY:  The play is replaced by a scene at Ling Fu's restaurant.  Egg fu Yung with matzo balls, a specialty.

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Carl Kroenke, Blanche Stewart

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who has been in San Francisco a whole week and has just found out that the gold rush is over, Jack Benny."

NOTE:  The show is broadcast from the Western Women's Club in San Francisco.

NOTE:  Gladys, the phone operator, is a recurring character in this episode.  She has a Bronx accent, and breaks in at odd times.  Gladys is a precursor to Mabel Flapsaddle and Gertrude Gearshift, the phone operators who feature prominently in later seasons.

PHIL SINGS:  Phil adds a chorus to "Bei Mir Bist du Schön"


Oh, San Francisco, San Francisco,

you're the town I can't resist-o.

I like your parks and civic centers,

it's cool in summer, warm in winter.

And your harbor filled with water.

And your good old Fisherman's Wharf.

With its lobster and its crab meat,

gee, I cannot get enorf.

I climbed your hills and cars and cable,

I would have walked if I was able.

And after that I took a boat,

and sailed right through your Golden Goat.

San Francisco oft reminds us

footprints in the sands of time.

Jell-O, six delicious flavors,

Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime.  Boom!

NOTE:  In this episode, and several recent ones, Phil's endearing term for Jack is "Jack, old boy".  He hasn't yet begun calling him Jackson.

FLUB:  Good flub at 17:20, where Phil stumbles over the song title, admits he had trouble with it, and Jack follows up on the flub.

JOKE:  (The kind of joke that only Jack, with his delivery, could make funny, but which isn't at all funny on paper.)

Jack:  "...And Don, I think that was a very thoughtless introduction.  I know perfectly well that the gold rush is over.  It was in 1849."

Don:  "Jack, then why did you bring a pick and a shovel with you?"

Jack:  "Because if history repeats itself, I want to be prepared!"

(No kidding, Jack made this joke funny.  Okay, not REALLY funny, but somewhat funny.)


Don:  "Jack, I wonder where the rest of our gang is?"

Jack:  "Yeah, I hope they know we're broadcasting from the Western Women's Club."

Don:  "Well, I'm sure Phil Harris does."

Jack:  "Oh, I know Phil does.  He tried to get a room here."


Jack:  "Oh, Chinatown!  Did you do any shopping?"

Mary:  "Did I?  I bought some pyjamas, and a kimono with a dragon on it, and some chop suey."

Jack:  "Mmmm."

Mary:  "And, oh boy, am I sorry I told the man I was in a hurry."

Jack:  "Why?"

Mary:  "He wrapped everything in one bundle."

Jack:  "Gee, chop suey and a kimono.  Gee, the kimono must be all spotted."

Mary:  "No, but the dragon gained three pounds."


Jack:  "Does Stokowski come in late because of girls?"

Phil:  "He would if he had my little Red Book!"

JOKE:  Another attempt to assign the intellectual jokes to Don:

Jack:  "Didn't you think Phil did a great job, Don?"

Don:  "Oh, yes Jack.  I thought he handled it with unusual esprit."

Jack:  "What was that?"

Don:  "I say, I thought he handled it with unusual esprit."

Jack:  "Oh, yes!  Yes.  Quite."

Don:  "That means spirit."

Jack:  "Well, why didn't you say so??  'Esprit'!  He has to bring in Spanish on me, you know?"

Don:  "No, esprit is a French word, Jack.

Jack:  "A French word?"

Don:  "Of course."

Mary:  "Certainly."

Kenny:  "Yeah!"

(Kenny's laughing "Yeah!" at the end is what makes this whole sequence work.)

POLITICAL INCORRECTNESS:  (They slip in a dialect joke with the Chinese waiter.)

Waiter:  "Hello?  Ling Fu Lestaurant."

Jack:  "Now, listen.  I want to reserve a table for six.  We'll be over in about 15 minutes."

Waiter:  "Who is this, please?"

Jack:  "This is Jack Benny?"

Waiter:  "Jack Blenny?  Blenny?"

Jack:  "No, Benny!  The "L" is silent."

NOTE:  The waiter's Chinese dialect is similar to the one originally used by Mr. Magoo's houseboy, Charlie, characterized by slipping L's into the middle of words.  The Magoo Show eventually altered the accent, and (IMO) killed the character in the process.  When Charlie had a Chinese accent, even a bad one, he seemed like a real guy.  When he became a Chinese guy with an American accent, he seemed more like an artificial politically correct construct than a real person.


16. 01/16/38     DRIVING BACK FROM SAN FRANCISCO     (28:21)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Fifi", from "Every Day's a Holiday". 

The action shifts to Jack, Mary and Rochester returning home from San Francisco.  The Maxwell's poor performance has dragged the 10 hour drive out to 4 days, and Jack's car is getting passed by bicyclists.  Rochester falls asleep at the wheel, but they're going too slow for it to matter.  Jack gets a flat.  They stop at a diner to eat, and tune in the Jell-O Program, in progress without them.  Kenny sings "Rosalie" from "Rosalie", and by the time he's done, Jack, Mary and Rochester have arrived in the studio.  Jack borrows clothes from some of the others.  A reporter comes by to investigate reports that Jack will soon retire from radio.  Jack denies the rumor, and says he plans to work for a long time.  Beedle, the invisible man who haunts Phil Baker's program, shows up to torment Jack.  Rochester decides it's a good time to head back home and get to work.  The orchestra plays "Hometown".  Afterwards, the ghost is gone, so Phil calls back in the half of his band that ran out.  Mr. Plummer from Radio Guide comes by to ask if Jack is retiring.  Jack says no, so Plummer asks what Jack expects to be doing 40 years from now.  Jack takes this as an excuse to dramatize The Jell-O Program 40 years later.  Afterwards, the orchestra closes with "I Could Use a Dream", from "Sally, Irene and Mary".

PLAY:  The Jell-O Program, 1978 Version.  Jack dramatizes what the program will be like in 40 years.  The sketch ends with Old Man Plummer still asking Jack when he's going to retire.

CRYSTAL BALL:  No attempt is made to guess what the world will be like in 1978.  The 1978 Jell-O Program consists almost entirely of geriatric jokes.  However, the play does predict that Jack will still have the same sponsor, and will still have Kenny and Phil, so wrong on both counts.  In the future, Jack and Phil are still arguing about Dolores Del Schmutz (the date that Phil fixed Jack up with back in '38).  According to the program, Jack eventually married Dolores.  Andy is still on the show in 1978, but his voice is the only one that hasn't changed at all.  In 1978, Jell-O still only has six flavors, which is a bit of a disappointment (also another wrong prediction).  Couldn't they have made up some new offbeat flavors, like watercress or chutney?  According to Wikipedia, they once made celery flavored Jell-O (Jell-O Discontinued Flavors)  so they wouldn't have been too far off.  According to the sketch, Andy Devine is 82 years old.  In real life, Andy would have been 72 that year if he had still been alive, so I'm not sure what the point was of making him 10 years older.  In the sketch, not only Andy, but his Ma and Pa are still alive in 1978.

NOTE:  Speaking of funny Jell-O flavors, I recently saw an Odd Couple episode (I don't remember the title) in which Felix, disgusted with himself for some reason or other, is eating plain gelatin, because he doesn't feel that he deserves any better.  According to Wikipedia, they really did make plain Jell-O once.  (And, according to the Discontinued Flavors List above, they once made plain Jell-O too).  I always eat Jell-O plain (or maybe with whipped cream), so I can't imagine eating plain Jell-O myself, but Don Wilson is always talking about serving it with pineapple, sliced bananas, or some such, so maybe that has something to do with why plain Jell-O was sold at all.  So that people could add their own flavors to it without worrying about what goes with the existing Jell-O flavor.  If it's discontinued, it looks like the idea didn't catch on.

SITUATION COMEDY:  The show opens with a scene of Jack, Mary and Rochester in the Maxwell, on their fourth day of the 10 hour drive from Frisco to LA.  They stop at a diner, and tune in The Jell-O Show.  While the orchestra is playing its second number, they arrive in the studio.  That diner must have been around the corner from the studio.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for a little surprise.  Jack and Mary are driving back from San Francisco where we did our last broadcast, so we'll pick them up in the Maxwell, en route to Hollywood.  Take it away, Highway 99!"

DON'S 1978 INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies, Jack Benny.  Wheel him in, boys!"

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine.

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Mel Ruick, Blanche Stewart, Ward Wilson

NOTE:  Highway 99 really is the one Jack and Mary would have used to drive from Frisco to LA:

NOTE:  There's another attempt to give Don the intellectual role once occupied by Don Bestor, as they have Don use oversized words to describe Kenny's song.  In fact, they're doing a good job making Don the intellectual.  With Bestor, they overdid the shtick for several weeks, then dropped it completely.  With Wilson, they're using it more sparingly.  He doesn't bowl you over with big words all the time, but they've set him up so that you're not surprised when he does.

NOTE:  Another mention of television in this episode, and the first mention that Jack himself hopes to go to TV some day (12 years before he actually did).  Oddly, there's no mention of television in the 1978 Jell-O Program.  Jack is still on radio (which is another incorrect prediction).

NOTE:  Jack mentions Fred Allen, Eddie Canter, Bob Burns, Phil Baker, as comedians that would be around to take up the slack if he retired.

NOTE:  Mary's phone number is Oscar-7071.

NOTE:  Two weeks from now, the show is doing their version of "Hurricane".  Hearing this, Mary says "Come on, Jack, let's blow."

JOKE:  (A comment about Jack's retirement)

Jack:  "It's news to me.  I might have said that some day when I'm old and grey, I might settle down on a little chicken farm."

Mary:  "What are you waiting for, the chickens?"

Jack:  "No, I expect to be working for a long time, yet, and on radio too.  Even television."


Jack:  "Rochester, are you sure we're on the right road?"

Rochester:  "I think so.  There's a sign there that says 'San Diego Zoo'."

Jack:  "Zoo??  That's 'San Diego 200'!"


Jack:  "We don't need any gas!  Look at that gas gauge.  It registers 12."

Rochester:  "That's the speedometer."

Jack:  "Well, wait till we run out!  Gas, gas, this car's got an appetite like a blonde!"


Gas Pumper:  "What'll it be?"

Rochester:  "Fill 'er up!"

Jack:  "Wait a minute, Rochester, I'll handle this!"

An interesting joke, as it shows that cheapness is already becoming enough of Jack's character for this to be funny without explanation.

JOKE:  (At the restaurant)

Jack:  "Oh, a six decker, eh?  What is this, your birthday?"

Rochester:  "Yes, sir!"

Jack:  "Well, I don't care if it is, you'll get a ham sandwich, the same as us!"

Rochester:  "All right, but put a candle on it!"

(The writers already know that Rochester can make a joke like this funny, because it's not that funny on paper.  Rochester's real birthday was September 18.)

JOKE:  (At the restaurant)

Jack:  "How's your coffee?

Old Waitress:  "Much better, thanks."

JOKE:  (At the restaurant)

Jack:  "All you can eat for thirty five cents?  How can you make any money on that?"

Owner:  "Wait till you taste the food!"

JOKE:  (First joke about Phil not knowing music.)

Jack:  "Well, anyway fellows, I can't quit radio.  Now, what would you all do without me?"

Phil:  "That's right, if I worked for any other guy, I'd have to learn music.

(Jokes like this will become much more common later.)


Ghost:  "What are you scared of, white boy?"

Rochester:  "I ain't white."

Ghost:  "No?  Wait till you look in the mirror."


Ghost:  "I hate comedians."

Mary:  "Then why pick on Jack?"


Jack:  "And Phil, I'm glad you picked out such a hot tune.  That's just what we needed after that jittery episode with Beedle, there."

Phil:  "Are you sure that guy's gone?"

Jack:  "Yes, why?"

Phil:  "Come on back, men!  You know, Jack, I only had half a band."

Jack:  "Oh, what cowardly musicians!  A lot of spineless jellyfish.  And now, folks, going from the..."

Mary:  "Oh, Jack?  There of those jellyfish are taking off their coats."

Jack:  "Hey, Phil!  Discipline your men!"

Phil:  "Sit down, boys!  You can get him later!"

1978 JOKE:

Jack:  "I don't see how you can keep on running around at your age, Harris.  Every time I see you, you have a girl under each arm."

Phil:  "I need 'em to hold me up!"


17.    01/23/38         SCOOP BENNY, ACE REPORTER     (29:52)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Be a Good Sport" from "Love and Kisses". 

Don and Jack discuss whether Jack photographs as good as Gable, and whether he sleeps in pyjamas.  Everyone discusses Jack's movie, and how well it captures the real Jack.  Mary has an idea for a movie for Jack in which he's stuck on a desert island with a baboon after Carol Lombard swims away.  Several variations on the theme are suggested, all of which seem to involve women swimming away.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number that Don' wrings a Jell-O Commercial out of.  Mary's desert island story gets tossed around some more, but the idea doesn't tread water.  Kenny comes in, and talks more about Jack's new (unnamed) movie.  Jack telephones his co-star, Francisca Doll, to go over the script, but keeps slipping into bad German accents, as a result of Mary's suggestion.  Ms. Doll seems mostly interested in making sure that Jack brings Phil along when they meet.  Jack pretends not to care, but finally blows up at both Phil and Kenny.  Kenny sings "Love Walks In" from "Golden Follies", which Jack announces poutily.  Jack admits being mad about the situation, until Phil asks why he's taking it out on Kenny, at which point Jack denies it again. 

PLAY:  "Behind the Front Page", or "Scoop Benny's Scoop."  Scoop Benny edits a paper that publishes irregularly, and keeps getting scooped by other papers.  Jack fires his own reporters with regularity but it doesn't seem to matter.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who doesn't sing like Crosby, he doesn't photograph like Gable, who cannot act like Muni, yet he's in the movies, Jack Benny."


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  "Restaurants serving real Jell-O can now display an autographed picture of Jack Benny.  Look for his picture as your assurance that they serve genuine Jell-O."  At least that's what Don claims.  But I don't know how they prevent rogue restaurants from putting Jack's picture up even though they're really serving Royal gelatin.  This would be a job for Superman, if he'd been invented yet.

NOTE:  In Jack's new movie, he's playing opposite "Francisca Doll".  No such name or any like it shows up on or in any of Jack's movies around that time.

NOTE:  Francisca Doll's phone number is Hollywood-2734.

NOTE:  Jack again announces their version of "The Hurricane" again, now only one week away.  This must have been some movie if a parody of it merited this much advance publicity.


Phil:  "Well, I have to protect my hair.  I can't put it in a drawer and go to bed like you do."


Jack:  "Anyway fellows, in this new picture, I play the part of a kleptomaniac."

Don:  "A kleptomaniac?"

Jack:  "Yeah, you know, one of those fellows who imagines he's sick all the time.  You know.  One of those fellows who's always taking pills."

Don:  "Why, that's hypochondriac!  A kleptomaniac is a thief!"

Jack:  "Well... anyway, I play the part of a big word."

JOKE:  (Regarding bomb threats)

Jack:  "Where's the guy I hired last week to open packages?"

Mary:  "He opened one."


18.    01/30/38            HURRICANE         (28:15)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "I Double Dare You" (again). 

Despite Don's intro, Jack is pretty tired from working on his new movie.  They discuss the difference between making up Jack and making up Fred Mac Murray.  Everyone revisits how Jack went over to rehearse with Francisca Doll, but she was more interested in Phil.  Everyone discusses their own dates.  Kenny makes another failed effort at humor before singing "Sweet Someone" from "Love and Hisses".  Jack introduces the play, but Andy calls to say that he can't make the play tonight.  The orchestra plays "Snake Charmer" and the play begins.  Afterwards, the orchestra closes with "Rosalie" (uncredited).

PLAY:  "The Hurricane", or "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles".  A parody of the Goldwyn movie "The Hurricane" (1938), starring Dorothy Lamour and Jon Hall.  Jack is a martinet of a Caribbean island governor, whose catch phrase is "Because... IT'S the law!!".  Jack sentences a popular native to death.  The native turns out to be Shleperman, who pardons himself with a hacksaw, and foments revolution against Jack's government just before a hurricane hits the island.  The hurricane makes a messy situation messier.  You probably needed to see the movie.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that human dynamo, that bundle of energy who is always bubbling over with pep and vitality, Jack Benny!"

BUCK BENNY-STYLE INTRO:  "I will play the part of Governor DeLaage, as mean a man as ever ate a popsicle during a hanging."

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin

NOTE:  Phil is still greeting Jack with "Jack, old boy!".  (No "Jackson" yet).

NOTE:  At programs' end, Jack gets another telegram from Alton Cooke, editor of the New York World Telegram, telling him that in the 7th Annual Radio Editors Poll, Jack was chosen the Most Popular Comedian on the Air for the 5th Consecutive Year.  Don Wilson was named Most Popular Announcer, and Kenny was second among all male popular singers.  (See notes to the 1-31-37 episode for last year's announcement).  Jack first won this poll in 1934 for his work on The Chevrolet Program.


Jack:  Hermaine, go to your room!"

Mary:  Oh, popa kua maluka!"

Jack:  Hermaine, do you know what you're saying??"

Mary:  "No, and neither do you."


19.    02/06/38            JACK IS LATE         (27:57)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:     The orchestra opens with "In Old Chicago".

THE SHOW:   As the program opens, Jack is missing.  Don calls his home, and is told by Rochester that Jack is asleep in bed.

SITCOM:  The episode transitions to a sitcom scene at Jack's house.  Jack has overslept, and dresses in a hurry to get to the studio.  A package arrives for someone else.  Mary calls to see how Jack is coming along, and tells him what's going on at the program.  Phil just lost the orchestra to Don in a card game, and Mary lost her new feathered hat to Kenny, who's using it to play Indian.  Jack looks for his watch, but Rochester has hocked it.  Jack leaves in such a hurry that he forgets his pants.  ("Gee, I hope the neighbors weren't looking!")

THE SHOW:  Back at the show, the orchestra plays "Let That Be a Lesson to You" from "Hollywood Hotel".  Jack arrives with his pants on backwards.  Phil does a Jell-O commercial, since he's the announcer after losing his orchestra to Don.  The Knocking Man delivers a Letter From Momma to Mary, which she reads.  Mary's mother asks Kenny to sing Bei Mir Bist du Schön, which he does.  Everyone discusses Playmay, a recent winner at Santa Anita, in which the winner paid off $673 on a $2 dollar ticket.  Mary had a bet on the horse, but Jack didn't.  To explain why he didn't, he transitions the show over to another sitcom scene (this time a flashback).  "Take it away, Santa Anita!"

SITCOM:  Through the miracle of flashback, Jack shows what happened at Santa Anita that day.  He and Mary argue about which horse to bet on.  Jack has a convoluted reason for betting on Playmay, while Mary has a simple but equally nonsensical one for betting on Knegret (she has two knees, and feels 'gret').  The Knocking Man doesn't knock, but does give Jack a tip on a horse, and convinces him to switch his bet to Knegret.  The Knocking Man drops by later with another tip for Jack, forgetting that he's already given him one.  Jack changes his bet to Knegret, but his original pick, Playmay, wins.  Fortunately for Mary, she changed her bet too.

THE SHOW:  Back at the show, the Knocking Man comes back again (knocking this time), with yet another tip.

PLAY:  Play!?  With two sitcom scenes, are you kidding?


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Hilliard Marks, Bill Morrow, Frank Nelson, Blanche Stewart


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen..."

Phil:  "Hold it, Don.  Jack isn't here yet."

Don:  "Not here yet?  Well, are you sure, Phil?"

Phil:  "I didn't see him.  Did you, Mary?"

Mary:  "No.  Have you looked under everything?"

Phil:  "Yeah."

Don:  "That's strange, I wonder where Jack can be?"

Kenny:  "He was here last Sunday, if that'll help."

Mary:  "Uh, maybe he met somebody on the way over, and he stopped off to eat."

Don:  "It wouldn't take him that long, would it?"

Mary:  "It would if the other guy didn't take up the check."

Phil:  "I think you'd better call up his house."

Don:  "Yeah."

Operator:  "Number, please."

Don:  "Uh Operator, get me Hollywood-3981, and hurry up, hurry..."

(It goes by quickly, but the funniest thing in this whole sequence is Mary's question "Have you looked under everything?")


Jack:  "Let's hear what the Plainfield Mrs. Fiddler has to say."

(This is the first appearance of a joke that ran for years, in which Jack would, for no apparent reason, nickname Mary's mother after some recent popular show or movie.  Milt Josefsberg's book (written in the 70's), said that if the Benny Show were still in production, Jack would be calling Mrs. Livingstone "The Maude of Plainfield" or "The Towering Inferno of Plainfield".  Occasionally these jokes would have some kind of rhyme or reason ("What does the Bad and the Beautiful have to say?", when Mary says that the letter is from both her mother and father), but usually they come from completely out of left field.  Oddly enough, the telephone operators, Mabel and Gertrude, eventually adopted the same practice with Jack himself, and might say something like "What does The Schmoe of Killimanjaro want?", at a time when "The Snows of Killimanjaro" was a recent movie.)

NOTE:  Rochester answers the phone with "Hello, Mr. Benny's residence."  In later years, he would follow that up with a joke based on the phrase "...Star of stage, screen and radio."

NOTE:  Mary's momma signs the letter "Bubbles Livingstone".

NOTE:  Mary's mother asks Kenny to sing "Bei Mir Bist du Schön" because he's the only one who hasn't sung it yet.  So far, Phil is the only one to have sung it on this program, so the song must have been making the rounds on a lot of shows about this time.  Kenny's version of the song is a lot more down tempo than the hipper, jumping version Phil sang on January 9.

JOKE:   (Several of the jokes while Jack is dressing aren't that funny on paper, but are funny as acted.  These are classic radio jokes, that wouldn't be funny at all on TV because you could see the person they were about without having to imagine anything.  Example:)

Rochester:  "Ain't you going to take a bath?

Jack:  "I haven't time for a bath.  Anyway, I can miss one day.

Rochester:  "Okay, but I better dust you off.

Jack:  "Never mind that, gimme my socks.  The grey ones without the holes.  And give me my shirt, too."

Rochester:  Do you want a clean one, or are you going to wear a muffler?"

(These wouldn't be at all funny on TV, but on radio, they work.  They don't work great, but they do work.  On TV, there's no need to create images mentally, there are plenty on screen.)


Jack:  "How dare you let me oversleep 8 hours?  If you ever do that again, Rochester, you won't get that raise I promised you!"

Rochester:  "There goes nuthin'."


Jack:  "Rochester, where is my wristwatch?"

Rochester:  "You could have lost it, you know."

Jack:  "Rochester, where is my wristwatch?"

Rochester:  "Okay, here's the ticket."

Jack:  "I thought so!  Why, Rochester!"

Rochester:  "You're the Third Degree-ingest Man I ever worked for!"

Jack:  "Never mind that, you pawned my watch.  How much did you get on it?"

Rochester:  "Eight dollars."

Jack:  "Eight dollars?  Gee, I could never get over five."


Kenny:  "Say, Jack.  you know, the same thing happened to me once."

Jack:  "What's that, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "I got up at six o'clock in the morning to go to work and put my pants on backwards!"

Jack:  "Uh huh."

Kenny:  "And then I walked by the mirror and thought I was just coming in, so I went back to bed again."

Jack:  "I bet you must have felt silly, huh?"

Kenny:  "I did when I went to bed.  I put my pyjamas on backwards and thought I was just getting up, and..."

Jack:  "Oh, QUIET!"

JOKE:  (Phil does the Jell-O Commercial!)

Phil:  "Ladies and gentlemen, if you happen to breeze by a grocery store, why don't you walk in and say to the clerk, 'Listen Shorty, slip me a couple of boxes of Jell-O, willya?'".

Other Guy:  "Jell-O, eh?  What flavor, sir?"

Phil:  "All six of 'em, baldy."

Other Guy:  "Okay, kinky.  Say, you kinda go for Jell-O, don't you?"

Phil:  "Yeah, man!"

Jack:  "Why Phil, that was marvelous!  Did you hear that, Don?  Not bad, huh?"

Don:  "Aw, he used a stooge."

Other Guy:  "Yes, but I wasn't any good."

JOKE:  (Jack tips the telegraph boy)

Jack:  Here Bud, here's a tip for you.  Have you got change for a quarter

Telegram Boy (actually the Knocking Man):  No, I left my wallet on my yacht."

[Door Slam]

Jack:  "I never heard such impudence!"

Mary:  Oh, why didn't you give him the whole quarter?  It wouldn't break you."

Jack:  "Mary, you know that's an eagle on the quarter, not a homing pigeon!"


Mary:  "We celebrated our anniversary by going to a movie.  We saw "Thoroughbreds Don't Cry" with a swell kid actor named Macaroni."

Jack:  "Macaroni??  That's Mickey Rooney!"

JOKE:  (These days, when Don tries to work a Jell-O commercial into the conversation, Jack plays along even when he sees it coming.)

Jack:  "'What is it, Don?', said he, slipping gracefully into a new routine."


Jack:  "You were there, Mary.  You remember that horse that paid 673:2?"

Mary:  "I'll say, I had it right on the nose."

Jack:  "That's right, you did, yeah."

Phil:  "Gee, that was a marvelous prize for a horse to pay.  Who was the jockey?"

Mary:  "Santa Claus."

JOKE:  (At the race track)

Mary:  "Hey Jack, Jack!  I was just talking to Bing Crosby and he said we shouldn't make any bets until the fourth race."

Jack:  "Why?"

Mary:  "Then you can lose your money on his horse."

(Bing's travails with horses were popular fodder (pun intended) for humor in those days.  Even in Bugs Bunny, when Elmer Fudd travelled to the Year 2000, the first headline he read in the newspaper was "Bing Crosby's Horse Hasn't Come In Yet".)

JOKE:  (At the race track)

Frank Nelson:  "Say Mister, will ya please hold still?  I've been trying to pick your pocket for 10 minutes!"

Jack:  "Get away from here, I'm ticklish!"

JOKE:  (At the race track)

Clerk:  "What'll it be?"

Jack:  "I want a $2 ticket on Knegret."

Clerk:  "Win, Place or Show?"

Jack:  "To Win.  No, wait a minute, wait a minute.  Make it to Place.  That's it.  No, no, look!  Better make that Show.  That's, to Show.  Yes, that's better."

Clerk:  "Okay, Reckless."

JOKE:  According to the race track announcer, one of the horses is "Rosalie, from the Picture of the Same Name."

NOTE:  When I finished listening to this, I felt that it was very good show, but didn't feel that it was the best one ever, or even close.  But darned if I don't seem to have transcribed half the episode here.  The number of Jokes that appear after a review can be a good indicator of how good a show was, but shouldn't be considered definitive.  Sometimes it just comes down to mood.  Sometimes I feel like transcribing half the show, and then do less than I want to, for fear of overdoing it.  This time I overdid it.  Another factor to consider here is that the jokes that get transcribed for reviews have to be a certain kind of joke, namely one that will stand on its own.  There have been a lot of great jokes that were un-transcribable because they would have required too much explanation to set up, and wouldn't have been funny presented alone.  Jokes like that can only be appreciated by listening to the entire program in context.


20.    02/13/38    ROBERT TAYLOR PLAYS THE CELLO     (29:08)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "I've Taken a Fancy To You" from "In Old Chicago." 

The tailors of America have named Jack one of the 10 Best Dressed Men in the country.  Jack feigns no knowledge of this, but not very convincingly.  They argue about whether Jack is better dressed than Phil.  Kenny comes in to congratulate Jack on his birthday, and brings him a cake, but puts too many candles on it.  Jack gets a telegram from his father congratulating him on his 25th birthday (he couldn't afford to send the wire when it was true).  The orchestra plays "You're In Education".  Jack needs to rehearse a love scene with Francisca Doll some more, and wants to do a dry run with Mary.  As they rehearse, Robert Taylor comes out of the audience to give Jack some pointers on how to do love scenes.  Jack introduces Bob to his cast, but Mary seems very nervous about meeting him.  Bob talks about his movies, such as "Broadway Melody of 1936", which Jack belatedly remembers being in also.  The Knocking Man stops by for his usual quip.  Kenny sings "New Moon" from "Radio City Rebels".  Jack rehearses his love scene with Mary again.  Mary is left cold, so Bob shows him how it oughta be done.  This results in a lot of smooching and a lot of screaming from Jack.  Jack says that his real forte is violin playing, rather than love scenes.  Bob plays the Cello, so they do a duet of "Mighty Like a Rose" which somehow turns into a quasi-vaudeville act, with jokes and patter filling up the dead moments.

PLAY:  None.  Robert Taylor's guest spot takes up the time.

DON'S INTRODUCTION "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you America's latest fashion plate, that Beau Brummell of Beverly Hills, Jack Benny!"



MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  "The Orchestra" (with Phil conspicuously missing).

NOTE:  Robert Taylor recently got Phil a date with Dolores Del Schmutz's sister, Sugar Del Schmutz.

NOTE:  Another reference to the Knocking Man's follicular problems.  Bob asks what this guy wants, Jack says a toupee.  A joke for the studio audience only.

NOTE:  Robert Taylor currently hosts the Maxwell House program.


Don:  "Jack, I read in the paper just the other day that the Tailors of America selected you as one of the 10 Best Dressed Men in the Country."

Jack:  "Oh, they did?  I didn't know that.  Are you sure, Don?"

Don:  "Oh yes, certainly.  It was quite a story."

Phil:  "Sure, I read it too, it was in all the papers."

Jack:  It was, Phil?  Gee, I'd like to see it.  Do you have a clipping of it?"

Phil:  "Yes, and so do you!"


Kenny:  "I brought a cake for you, Jack.  Wait till I get it."

Jack:  "A cake?  Well, that was thoughtful, Kenny."

Kenny:  "Here you are,  Jack."

Jack:  "Well, thanks.  Say, that is a beautiful cake.  It has such nice decorations."

Kenny:  "Yeah, I hope I guessed right.  I put 50 candles on it."

Jack:  "Fifty candles???"

Kenny:  "Oh, I got more in my pocket."

Jack:  "Oh, you have, huh?  Well, keep 'em in your pocket!"

Kenny:  "All right, but I better blow 'em out."


Telegram Boy:  "Telegram for Jack Benny."

Jack:  "Oh, wait a minute.  Here's a tip for you."

Telegram Boy:  "Say, this MUST be your birthday!"


Jack:  "Whether you love me or not, you're stuck with me!"

Mary:  "Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Jack:  "What are you laughing at?"

Mary:  "Paramount, they're stuck too."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  Kenny to Robert Taylor:

Kenny:  "Gee, if I'd known you were coming, I'd have baked another cake!"

("If I Knew You Were Coming, I'd Have Baked a Cake" was a popular song in those days )


Jack:  "By the way, Bob, what was the first big picture you ever made?  You know, the one that... that you think started you off with a bang?"

Robert Taylor:  "Well Jack, about three years ago, I made a picture called "Broadway Melody of 1936", with Eleanor Powell, Una Merkel, Sid Silvers, Buddy Ebson and June Knight."

Jack:  "Oh yes, I saw that, it was very good, too.  I re... Hey, wait a minute!  I WAS IN THAT PICTURE!  Why, certainly."

Taylor:  "You were, Jack?"

Jack:  "Yes, I was, I played a... Hey, Mary.  You saw Broadway Melody.  What was I in it?"

Mary:  "Miscast."

JOKE:  (Mary rehearses the scene with Robert Taylor.)

Mary:  "Oh Andre, my love!  Kiss me!"

Jack:  "I don't remember  that line begin in there!?"

JOKE:  (Jack learns that Bob Taylor plays the cello)

Jack:  "Oh, I didn't know that.  You play the cello and I play the violin."

Mary:  "Guess what they're going to do now, folks."


 21.    02/20/38            SUBMARINE D-1 PART TWO      (27:47)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Go South, Young Man". 

Don tries to worm Jack's age out of him, but Jack isn't talking, until Phil comes in and accidentally gives it away.  This leads into a discussion about astrology and astrological signs.  Kenny sings "Rose Marie" from the picture of the same name.  Jack talks about appearing on the Maxwell House show with Robert Taylor.  Don somehow works a Jell-O commercial out of astrology, and Jack introduces the play.  The orchestra plays "You Do Something To Me", and the play begins.  After the play, the orchestra closes with "Who Knows?" from "Rosalie".

PLAY:  Submarine D-1, Part 1 (despite what the mp3 title says), a parody of the movie of the same name, released in 1937, starring Pat O'Brien.  Jack's sub travels from its port in New London, CT to a location near Panama, where it stops for gas at an undersea filling station owned by Shleperman.  Unfortunately, the next episode seems to be lost, so if you want to know what happens, your best bet is to rent the DVD, fast forward to the underwater gas station scene, and start watching from there.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who celebrated his birthday last Monday, February 14th, and his age was exactly...

Jack:  "Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking.  And just in time, folks."

BUCK BENNY-STYLE INTRO:  "Now, I will play the part of Butch O'Benny, Chief Petty Officer, as portrayed by Pat O'Brien on the screen.  As tough a sailor as ever choked on a seasick pill. 

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow

NOTE:  The dialogue from the opening through the second number is so sustainedly good, I was seriously tempted to just transcribe the entire segment.

NOTE:  Don mentions that Jack was in the service during "the world war".  This will be mentioned several times during the coming years, until it finally becomes impossible to reconcile with Jack's later-official age of 39.

NOTE:  The cast's star signs.  Phil and Kenny were born under Taurus the Bull.  Don was under Leo the Lion.  Mary was born under Donald the Duck ("It means I'm beautiful, charming, and have webbed feet.")  Jack was born OVER the sign of "Waukegan Clothing Factory".

NOTE:  Jack appeared on Robert Taylor's Maxwell House Good News program last Wednesday.

NOTE:  Jack's crew features himself as CPO Butch O'Benny, as well as Sock Harris, Slim Wilson, Lucky Baker, Slug Livingstone, and Rochester. 

NOTE:  As a continuity nut, I like to try to convince myself that Butch O'Benny is an earlier version of the same character who became Detective Captain O'Benny after the war.

NOTE:  For the 1930's, Jack has a pretty integrated submarine crew, with both Mary and Rochester serving.


Don:  "Tell me just one thing, Jack.  Are you between 40 and 45?'

Jack: [Jack begins humming "It's a Small World"."]

Don:  "Well uh, are you between 35 and 40?"

Jack: [Jack keeps humming]

Mary:  "Hello Jack, what are you doing?"

Jack:  "I'm auditioning for my birthday."


Jack: "Is there anything else about me you two would like to know?"

Don: "Yes, how old are you?"

Jack: "That's one thing you'll never find out. Oh, hello Phil."

Phil Harris: "Hello, Jack old boy, Happy 44!!"

Jack: "44? Now, you're just guessing, Phil. That's just a shot in the dark."

Phil: "Well, a bullseye is a bullseye, no matter how you get it."


Phil:  "[beginning of line cut out] ...I am, and I don't even show it."

Jack: "Why Phil Harris, you've been studying music for over 29 years."

Mary:  "He don't show that, either."


Jack:  "So you were born under Taurus the Bull, eh Phil?"

Phil:  "Yeah, it was shady there."


Jack:  "When were you born, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "March the 15th."

Jack:  "Oh, you come under Taurus the Bull, the same sign as Phil.  Well, that fits.  You both sing, you both have curly hair, you're both in pictures."

Kenny:  "Yeah, and we're both lady killers, too!"

Jack:  "Oh, you're both lady killers, huh?"

Kenny:  "Well, Phil is.  I just stun 'em."

(Kenny's real birthday was September 30.)

JOKE:  (This joke shouldn't be all that funny.  But somehow it is.)

Jack:  "Well Kenny, you certainly are the Romeo, isn't he, Mary?"

Mary:  "Yeah, if he ever comes on my balcony, I'll give him a flower pot beanie!"

JOKE:  (And another one that's funnier than it should be.)

Jack:  "And now folks, going from Jell-O to our next feature attraction, tonight we will bring you a drama of the United States Navy.  Our version of that thrilling, Warner Brothers first national picture, 'Submarine D-1'."

Mary:  "Oh boy!  Sailors!"


Mary:  "Hey Jack, am I going to be in this?"

Jack:  "Yes Mary, your name is "Slug" Livingstone.  We're short of men, so you'll have to be a sailor, too."

Mary:  "Okay, but I'm going to put a screen around my hammock."


Jack:  "Now look, Rochester, let me explain your part.  You're a member of a submarine crew."

Rochester:  "Submarine?"

Jack:  "Yes."

Rochester:  "Is that one of them boats that dunks?"


Jack:  "This isn't going to be no joy ride!  You know, being in the service is a man's job!"

Mary:  Oh, Chief?"

Jack:  "What is it, Slug?"

Mary:  "Somebody just stole my lipstick."


Butch:  "All right men, get down below.  Hey, Wilson!"

Slim:  "Yes, Chief?"

Butch:  "Stay right in the middle of the boat, I don't want any tipping!"

(Virtually the same joke is used after the war, on 4/21/46, when the show broadcasts from the USS Saratoga, four days before it is due to be sunk.)


Jack:  [gives a series of technical commands.]

Phil:  "What does that mean?"

Jack:  "I don't know, I saw it in the picture."


22.   02/27/38    [EPISODE LOST]


23.    03/06/38    DON WILSON'S 15Th ANNIVERSARY IN RADIO    (28:56)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Hooray for Hollywood" from "Hollywood Hotel". 

Jack does the intro, as Don is celebrating his 15th anniversary in radio today.  They talk about Don's early days.  Phil remembers Don from the days when he himself was a drummer, which leads to a discussion between Jack and Phil about the merits of the Drum vs. the Violin.  Mary comes in and reads an anniversary poem she wrote for Don.  Phil sings "The Darktown Strutter's Ball" (which was popular when Don started in radio).  Jack and Phil argue some more, but make up, at Don's insistence.  Mary tells a story about Jack embarrassing himself at Carol Lombard's party, which leads to an argument between Jack and Mary.  They also make up at Don's insistence that his anniversary be a happy affair.  Kenny comes in, and tells Jack the latest about his girlfriend and her fiancé, who want him to buy the ring and loan them his car.  This leads to an argument between Jack and Kenny.  Don tries to get them to make up again, but by this time, Jack is sick of it.  Kenny sings "Tippy Tin".  Don wants to do a Jell-O commercial, but as this is Don's Holiday, Jack has hired The Mumbling Man (as he must be called) to do the commercial for him.  The Mumbling Man mumbles through a Jell-O commercial until Don relieves him.  To celebrate Don's anniversary, Jack announces that he'll play "Thanks For the Memory" on the violin.  The authors, Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger (last seen on 6/7/36) show up to try to bribe him not to play it.  Jack resists their offers (in later years he would have taken it), and plays "Thanks For the Memory" from "The Big Broadcast of 1938".

PLAY:  No play, the Robin and Rainger appearance takes up the time.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen..."

Jack:  "Wait a minute, Don.  Wait a minute.  This one's on me. 

Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who is today celebrating his 15th year in radio, my friend and your friend, Don Wilson!"

SPECIAL GUEST STARS:  Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin


MINOR ROLES:  Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Cliff Nazarro,

JACK PLAYS:  Jack plays "Thanks For the Memory" on the violin.  This song became Bob Hope's signature piece in later years.  Hope sang the song in "The Big Broadcast of 1938", but it doesn't seem to have any special association with him yet.

NOTE:  Jack's rendition of "Thanks For the Memory" is fairly serious.  A few verbal jokes are thrown into the mix, but the actual violin playing is free of the scratches, wheezes, and slipping into practice scales that characterizes Jack's more comic violin performances.

NOTE Robin and Rainger also wrote "Love in Bloom" (previously Jack's signature piece, and will be again later), and "I Don't Want to Make History", which Jack mangled the last time they were on the show (6/7/36).

NOTE:  After Jack's introduction, Don says "Jell-O again", just as Phil got to say it on 12/13/36, and Mary said it on 1/24/37.  Catchy little phrase, isn't it?

NOTE:  Considering how fast and loose they play with anniversaries on this show, there's no telling if today is Don's actual 15th anniversary.  If they're a few days off, who's going to care?  And the intro doesn't even claim that this is the actual anniversary, it just says that this is the day Don was celebrating it today, which was probably true.

NOTE:  Don claims to have started off in radio as a singer.  Judging from the way he handles a few bars of "Yes Sir, That's My Baby", it sounds like a joke.  But, according to Wikipedia, it's true.  He started off as a singer on KFEL in Denver in 1923.  Maybe the high altitude changes the acoustics or something...

NOTE:  The routine between Jack and Kenny about Kenny's girlfriend and her fiancé, is very much like the kind of routine Dennis Day would torment Jack with on a weekly basis years later.

NOTE:  The Mumbling Man character kicks off today, and will appear sporadically for the next few years.  His gimmick is that he begins every sentence coherently, but trails off into gibberish after a few words.

NOTE:  During their association, Leo Robin wrote the lyrics, and Ralph Rainger the melodies for their songs.

PHIL SINGS:  For the second number, Phil sings a medley of Darktown Strutter's Ball and Alexander's Ragtime Band.


Oh, Don Wilson!  Oh, Don Wilson!

Fifteen years ago today.

Radio first swept the nation,

Now, you and it are here to stay.


You were born in the town of Denver,

In the mountains called the Rockies.

Also born there was Paul Whiteman,

but neither of you would make good jockeys.


Oh, Don Wilson, Oh, Don Wilson!

With your laugh and smile and chuckle,

For fifteen years you've been announcing,

And for words, you're never stuckle.


Oh, Don Wilson, Oh, Don Wilson!

You're the nicest man alive.

How we love your cheeks so rosy,

And your chins, three, four and five.


We salute you, dear old Wilson.

You're blushing now, but you'll get paler.

And we salute the stork who brought you,

Even though he used a trailer.


Don:  "Well, why shouldn't I enjoy radio?  You're such a swell fellow to work with.  You're kind, considerate, lovable..."

Jack:  "Generous?"

Don:  "No, lovable."

Jack:  "Well... even that's something."


Jack:  "You know Don, I don't recall ever hearing you sing.  What was your name in those days?  Was it Don Wilson?"

Don:  "Oh, no Jack.  I was part of a trio.  We were known as The Three Melody Boys."

Jack:  "Oh, you were part of a trio.  Who was the other fellow?"


Jack:  "Say Phil, that was quite a surprise to come.  I didn't know that Don was in radio that long."

Phil:  "Oh, sure.  I remember Don way back in the old days when I used to be a drummer in an orchestra."

Jack:  "Oh, yes Phil.  You were a drummer.  Say, when did you give up the drums and become a leader?"

Phil:  "When I lost one stick."

Jack:  "Well, you should have lost both!"

JOKE:  (Jack discusses the Drum's value as a musical instrument.)1Q

Jack:  "A fine instrument!  It sounds like Andy Devine eating celery in a boiler factory!"

JOKE:  (Phil discusses the Violin.)

Phil:  "Your violin sounds like somebody giving a pig a hotfoot!"

RUNNING JOKE:  This is a joke type that appeared fairly often on the show.  Jack would adopt an indefensible position.  As more objections were raised, his defense of the position would grow more and more tenuous, until he finally offered one last argument, with a "Shut up!" appended to it.

Jack:  "Just the same, the violin is the King of Instruments, and the Drum is nothing."

Phil:  "Now, wait a minute, Jack.  Did you ever see that famous painting, called 'The Spirit of '76'?"

Jack:  "Yes, once on a calendar."

Phil:  "Well, what do you see in that picture?  A flag, a fife and a drum.  You don't see a violin there."

Jack:  "Well, for your information, Phil, the fellow carrying the flag is a violinist."

Phil:  "Where's the violin?"

Jack:  "His violin is in back of the flag."

Phil:  "Then why isn't he playing it?"

Jack:  "Because he's behind in his Union Dues, and shut up!"


Phil:  "You should talk.  The bags under your eyes are so low it looks like your pants need pressing."

Jack:  "Now, listen Phil, and let this sink in.  I could stay up all night, and on my way home, get hit by a taxi cab, and still look better than you do."

Phil:  "Not if I was driving the cab."

Jack:  "Well, you should be driving a cab, you're yellow!  Hey, that's a honey, isn't it?"

Phil:  "Yeah, one more crack like that and you'll be looking at the world through rose-colored beefsteak!"


Kenny:  "Say Jack, I've got something on my mind and I was wondering if I could ask you about it."

Jack:  "Sure, what is it, Kenny, said he, laying himself open to anything."


Jack:  "That was "Tippy Tin", sung by Kenny Baker.  Say, I never heard that before.  That's a new one, isn't it, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "Yeah, it's  a little Spanish number I picked up."

Phil:  "Has she got a friend,  Kenny?"


Don:  "Oh, say... say, Jack, Jack, I just...  just thought of something."

Jack:  "What is it, is it Don?"


Leo Robin:  You know, Jack, we wrote "Thanks For the Memory" just a short time ago.  It's fairly well known now, but it hasn't reached the peak of its popularity yet.

Jack:  "Well, if there's anything I can do, boys..."

Ralph Rainger:  "That song means more to us than anything we've ever written."

Jack:  "Well, I appreciate that..."

Leo:  "And we wouldn't want anything to happen that would stunt its growth.

Jack:  "Stunt its growth??  Well, I'm not going to smoke when I play it!"

JOKE:  (Jack plays "Thanks For the Memories" over the author's objections, and plays it fairly well).

Jack:  "And you were trying to buy me off.  Aren't you ashamed of yourselves?"

Mary:  "You should have taken the money, Jack."

Jack:  "I'll get 'em on their next song."


 24.    03/13/38            DEATH IN THE NIGHT CLUB     (30:03)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "I Love to Whistle" from "Mad About Music". 

Everyone discusses whether Jack's introduction of himself came off as conceited.  Phil objects to the fact that Jack has matched coins with him for his salary the last 8 weeks, double or nothing, and always won.  Mary comes in and ask to borrow Jack's two-headed half dollar.  They discuss the new house that Jack is building.  Jack produces a bankbook in Phil's name to try to prove he was saving the money for Phil all along.  Jack and Mary start arguing, and Don tries to pacify them on the grounds that it's his anniversary, forgetting that it isn't any more.  The orchestra plays "Dipsy Doodle".  Phil notices that his bankbook is 15 cents short.  Jack says he spent it getting himself an ice cream soda while setting up the account.  Jack and Phil argue about whether or not Jack should return the 15 cents, but amazingly Jack is the one on the side of returning it.  Kenny shows up, upset that the Academy Award for Best Actor went to Spencer Tracy instead of him.  Jack laments that he didn't win either, but says he could have if he'd gotten a meaty role like Spencer Tracy got in "Captains Courageous."  The Knocking Man drops by to congratulate Jack for winning the Academy Award, even though he didn't.  Jack introduces the play.  Kenny sings "Sweet as a Song" from "Sally, Irene and Mary", and the play begins.  Afterwards, the orchestra closes with "Whistle While You Work" from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

PLAY:  "Death in the Nightclub", or "Sally, Irene and Murder".  Andy, as Three Tonsils Devine, is accused of murder, Judge Shleperman presiding.  The play consists of 10 minutes of mock cross-examinations, including testimony by The Mumbling Man.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you..."

Jack:  "Hold it a minute, Don.  How about letting me introduce myself tonight, just for a change?  You know, something different."

Don:  "Oh, sure Jack, but what's the idea?"

Jack:  "Well Don, every week you always say some ridiculous thing, it starts me off with a handicap.  You know, I think there ought to be a little more dignity to these introductions."

Don:  "All right, Jack, all right.  You take it."

Jack:  "Ahem.  That was "I Love to Whistle", played by Phil Harris and His Orchestra.  And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you one of the sweetest guys in the world.  That sparkling personality, and all-around good fella, Jack Benny!"


Jack:  "Thanks, Jack.  It's all right, kid, you deserve it.  You see, Don, an introduction like that gives me the right kind of a buildup, so that I can carry on with a feeling of confidence."

Don:  "Yes, but Jack, I could have introduced you the same way."

Jack:  "I know, Don, but I sound more sincere."

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Andy Devine, Sam Hearn,

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Joe Franz, Cliff Nazarro

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Corny Harris And His Stationary Gypsies. (used in the play, since Phil's band has played the same location for 12 years).

NOTE:  "Whistle While You Work" was probably chosen as a preview of the "Snow White and the Seven Gangsters" play coming up in several weeks.

JOKE:  (They discuss Jack's introduction of himself.)

Phil:  "I think Don's right, Jack.  It sounded pretty conceited to me."

Jack:  "You don't say, Phil?"

Phil:  "Yes, bragging like that is in bad taste.  Now, my orchestra just finished a number.  I personally would never turn around and say it was great."

Jack:  "No Phil, neither would anyone else!"


Jack:  "That's a fine bunch of boys you've got.  I accidentally dropped my cigar a few minutes ago, and I hide-a... had to fight off your whole orchestra to get it back."

Phil:  "Well, they thought you were through with it."


Jack:  "I nearly killed that for you, didn't I?"

JOKE:  (Phil thinks Jack's house was built from money Jack swindled him out of with the two-headed coin).

Phil:  "Well, that's fine.  The House That MY Jack Built!"

Jack:  "Now, wait a minute, Phil..."


Jack:  "Gee, I didn't know that was going to get such a laugh, there!"


Jack:  "You know, I'm the one who should really be upset about the [Academy] Award.  Gee, I just missed it by a hair.  Gosh, I missed it by a hair last year, too."

Mary:  "You'll have to miss it by something else pretty soon."

JOKE:  (First reference to Fred Allen this season, undoubtedly to plug his new movie, and his upcoming appearance on Jack's show.  Jack announces the subtitle for this week's play:)

Jack:  "Sally, Irene and Murder".

Mary:  "I thought that was "Sally, Irene and Mary".

Jack:  "Don't forget, Fred Allen is in it."

JOKE:  (Jack and Mary are doing lawyerly things in his lawyer's office in the play.)

Jack:  "Well, Miss Livingstone.  I think I'm ready.  Now, let's see.  Here's the gun, that's Exhibit A.  There's the bullet, Exhibit B.  What's this awful looking thing here?"

Mary:  "That's your lunch, Exhibit C."


Mary:  "There's the phone, DA."

Jack:  "Well, get off my lap and answer it."

Jack:  "Okay.  Hello?  Yes?  Yes, all right, I'll tell him.  Goodbye."

Mary:  "Who was that?"

Jack:  "Your wife."

Mary:  "Oh, my wife, eh?  What does she want?"

Jack:  "She said if you don't get rid of me, she's going to black your Exhibit I."


Don:  "I object!"

Judge Shleperman:  "The objection is kosher."

Don:  "I object!"

Shleperman:  "Objection overlooked."

JOKE:  (Similar to the 3/28/37 jokes in which the PA announcer said you couldn't tell one train passenger from another without a program.)

Cryer:  "Popcorn, Peanuts, Programs.  Can't tell the District Attorney from a crook without a program!"


25.    03/20/38        PREPARING FOR NEW YORK     (29:32)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Midnight in Paris" from "Here's to Romance". 

Everyone discusses the joys of Spring.  Jack announces that he's going to New York to broadcast next week, so Phil, Kenny, Mary and Don get the week off.  Harry Von Zell will be subbing for Don, but Don doubts how sincere Harry's love for Jell-O could be.  Kenny comes in and asks how Jack's trip to New York was, and hears that Jack hasn't left yet.  He knew about the trip because he'd loaned Jack his live alligator suitcase.  Phil wants to know who which orchestra Jack will use, and Jack is willing to consider anyone but Abe Lyman.  Kenny prepares to sing, when a collect telegram arrives from Abe Lyman, threatening to rough Jack up if he isn't hired for next week's show.  Kenny sings "I See Your Face Before Me".  Jack announces that Kate Smith will be taking Kenny's place next week.  Bob Ripley and Fred Allen will also be appearing.  They talk about spring hats.  Jack tries to decide which orchestra to use next week, and tries to find ways to pick Abe Lyman without appearing to be afraid of him.  He sends Abe a return telegram, which Mary transcribes and paraphrases.  Jack gets a phone call from Fred Allen, who wants to be paid for appearing on next week's show, but wants Jack's Boy Scout Knife as payment, rather than money.  Jack leaves the show early to go pack for the trip.  The orchestra plays "Who Stole the Jam".  Afterwards, the action transitions to Jack's house.

PLAY:  None.  Jack leaves the show early.

SITUATION COMEDY:  After the third number, the show transitions to Jack's house, where he, Mary, Kenny and Rochester are helping him pack for the trip.  After they're done, Jack waits for Shleperman to deliver his tuxedo, and Andy drops in to talk about how things are going on the farm.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, tomorrow being the first day of spring, we bring you sulfur, molasses and Jack Benny!"

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn


NOTE:  Abe Lyman's Brooklyn tough guy persona from Spring 1936 is warmed up for an encore performance next week.

NOTE:  When Jack mulls possible orchestra leaders, he considers Whiteman, Olsen, and Bester, since Stokowski is in Italy.  Olsen and Bester are two of Jack's former bandleaders, while Paul Whiteman was mentioned briefly on Don's 15th anniversary show.

NOTE:  Kenny guesses Lawrence Tibbett, Grace Lord, and Jeanette McDonald as people who might be taking his place next week.


Jack:  "Isn't Spring the most marvelous time of the year?  I mean you walk out in the country and see babbling brooks, rabbits scampering around, snakes coming out of their holes..."

Phil:  "Did you call me, Jack?"


Jack:  "Last Fall when he was here, [Abe Lyman] gave me a slap on the back, and my socks changed feet!"

JOKE:  (The telegram from Abe Lyman.)

Jack:  "Dear Jack, understand you are coming east next week.  I suggest you use my band if you want to see New York from both eyes.  Will meet you at the station with my car and an ambulance, take your choice."


Jack:  "Dear Abe..."

Mary:  "How do you spell that?  A-P-E?"

Jack:  "No, A-B-E!  For heaven's sake, don't make that mistake!"


Jack:  "Dear Abe.  Regarding your offer to appear on my program next Sunday night, I will consider the matter if you keep your price and temper down.  Furthermore, I must insist that you come to rehearsal on time, if you can make it.  Stop.  In conclusion, if these conditions are met, I will give the matter further consideration.  Have you got that, Mary?"

Mary:  "Yes."

Jack:  "Then read it back to me."

Mary:  "Dear Abe.  The job is yours."


Jack:  "All in?  I don't work you so hard, Rochester!"

Rochester:  "I never get any time off."

Jack:  "You don't, eh?"

Rochester:  "Why, the other night when I was walking in my sleep, you stuck a vacuum cleaner in my hand!"

Jack:  "Well, I figured that as long as you were wearing out the rug, you might as well clean it!"

(A good example of the way Jack's character is transitioning.  A couple of years ago when someone told a joke like this about him, he would deny it.  Now, he tries to justify it.  The "Sale at Macy's" joke from 11/27/38 is another good example of the new style.)


Mary:  "Oh Jack?"

Jack:  "Yeah?"

Mary:  "Where are your scissors?"

Jack:  "Here.  What do you want them for?"

Mary:  "I want to trim your suitcase.  There are a lot of neckties sticking out."

Jack:  "Don't be so lazy!  Open it and tuck 'em in!"

(It's amazing how some things get on Jack's nerves, and others don't seem to phase him at all.)


Jack:  "Good heavens, Rochester locked him in the trunk!  Rochester, open it and let Kenny out!"

Rochester:  "The keys are in there too!"

Jack:  "You locked Kenny in the trunk?  That's the most stupid thing you've ever done!"

Rochester:  "Wait til you look for your ticket."


 26.    03/27/38        HARRY VON ZELL SUBS FOR DON WILSON     (29:29)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra (again) opens with "I Double Dare You"

The show is playing in New York this week.   Jack talks a bit about New York, and takes a phone call from a woman wanting to know why he didn't bring Phil Harris with him.  Abe Lyman tries to give Jack a bouquet with a tarantula in it, which leads to a discussion of Abe's practical jokes.  Robert Ripley of "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" drops by to ask Jack unflattering questions.  The orchestra plays "Hallelujah".  Jack gets acquainted with Abe's orchestra.  Von Zell tries to do the commercial, but has a hard time remembering the name of the product or its flavors.  Kate Smith comes in to do Mary's part and find out where Phil Harris is.  Kate reads a letter from Mary, warning her about Jack's foibles.  Kate sings "This Time It's Real".  Jack tries to express his appreciate to Kate and gets roped into buying her a wrap.  Kenny calls to reassure himself that Kate Smith isn't taking his place, and wants an ermine wrap too.  Rochester arrives, missing since Jack arrived, fresh from a gin barbecue in Harlem.  Fred Allen arrives.  After Jack pays off the Boy Scout Knife, he and Jack spar a bit about the quality of their respective latest movies.  Fred and Harry exchange greetings, since they work on the same program normally.  Jack and Fred get testier until Fred finally storms out in a huff.  As Fred leaves, one of Abe's boys recovers Jack's Boy Scout knife, and lifts Fred's watch as well.  Von Zell closes with a straight Jell-O commercial, which means he was FAKING earlier!!  The Knocking Man drops by for a closing quip.

PLAY:  None.  The visit from Fred and other things take up the time.

HARRY'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who travelled all the way from California to New York.  That gypsy of the airwaves, Jack Benny."

MISSING CAST:  This episode broadcasts from Radio City in New York.  Jack and Rochester are the only members of the regular cast to appear.

NOTE:  Harry Von Zell announced for Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Eddie Cantor, and probably others, but is probably best known for replacing Bill Goodwin on the Burns and Allen television show.

NOTE:  Abe Lyman reprises his Brooklyn tough-guy persona created during his three appearances last season, but has now added bizarre practical jokes to his repertoire (putting a tarantula in a bouquet, putting a shark in Jack's pool, a mousetrap in a book, et cetera).

NOTE:  Kate Smith normally sings for Calumet Baking Powder and Swan'sdown Cake Flour.

NOTE:  Jack closes with "Goodnight, Doll", apparently meant for Mary.  He may have tugged his earlobe too, like Carol Burnet, for all I know, but if so it didn't show up on radio.

SPECIAL GUEST STARS:  Fred Allen, Abe Lyman, Robert Ripley, Kate Smith, Harry Von Zell


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, John Brown

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Debonair and His Orchestra.

NOTE:  Jack asks Jack for $8.50 to buy his girlfriend a sunlamp.  The lines gets applause (not laughter), and I have no idea why, or what it means.  I hope it's not something obvious.

NOTE:  Jack's Boy Scout Knife has a big blade, corkscrew, fingernail file, bottle opener, and Ping-Pong paddle.

NOTE:  Jack saw the Ed Wynn, and George M. Cohen Shows while in New York, as well as Fred's latest picture.

NOTE:  Fred mentions that he didn't get on "the first show" at all, and is only squeaking into this one at the end.  He's probably referring to the fact that the show was broadcast twice, in East and West coast versions.  Apparently this is the later version, and Fred missed the earlier one.

NOTE:  Their latest movies, that Fred and Jack argue the merits of "Sally, Irene and Mary" and "Artists and Models".


Rochester:  "Shall I slash him down, Mr. Benny?"

Jack:  "Never mind, Rochester."

Fred:  "Now, wait a minute, who is this Swami here?"

Jack:  "Swami?"

Rochester:  "I'm Mr. Benny's butler!"

Fred:  Well, listen to me, you Nougatine Jeeves!  One more word out of you and you'll be buttling in a shroud."

Jack:  "Don't let him scare you, Rochester!"

Rochester:  "I ain't scared."

Fred:  "That's the stuff."

Rochester:  "Wait a minute.  What is a shroud?"

Fred:  "A shroud, my untutored friend, is a windbreaker for a ghost."

Rochester:  "Uh uh!  Make way for a coward!"

If we put this exchange under the microscope of political correctness, what can we make of it?

1) The terms "Swami" and "Nougatine" are clearly references to race.  There's no actual insult there, but there is a reference, and any reference made as part of an angry exchange is going to make people skittish today.

2) Jeeves, of course is the quintessential generic butler's name, based on the Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse.  Jeeves and Wooster, in fact, had a relationship quite similar to that of Jack and Rochester, in which the butler is the one who really pulls the strings.

3) Rochester has an almost Shaggy Rogers-like fear of ghosts (which we'll see in future episodes and in the movie "Topper Returns").  There's nothing overtly racial about that...

4) The reference to "slashing him down" is puzzling and unexplained.  In a few future episodes, reference is made to Rochester carrying a razor in his shoe, a la Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.  He never used it, and violence was never a part of Rochester's character.  Is it racial?  Maybe, or maybe just a reference to Rochester himself growing up in a tough neighborhood.  The line really comes out of left field here, and doesn't suit the mood of the show at all.

So, is this a racially charged scene?  A little, yes.  It probably wouldn't have played quite the same way after the war.  On the other hand, if you get into a scrap with Fred Allen, and don't hear anything worse than "untutored friend" hurled your way, you're doing pretty good.


Jack:  "And, Harry Von Zell, I want to tell you right now how much I appreciate your helping me out tonight.  It's a grand gesture."

Harry:  "Oh, don't mention it, Jack.  I only hope I'll be able to fill Don Wilson's shoes."

Jack:  "What was that?"

Harry:  "I said I hope I can fill Don Wilson's shoes."

Jack:  "Oh, you can, Harry, you can.  But don't ever get into his pants without a compass."


Jack:  "You're the kind of a guy who'd give your grandmother a hotfoot!"

Abe:  "I do, and she loves it!"

Jack:  "You and your practical jokes.  Say Harry, you know what Lyman did to me last summer in Hollywood?"

Harry:  "What?"

Jack:  "I was nice enough to invite him to my house for the weekend, and he put a shark in my swimming pool."

Harry:  "He did?"

Jack:  "Yeah, I thought it was a rubber one till I started missing toes."


Jack:  "What would I do with three arms?"

Harry:  "Well, you could play your violin and hold your nose at the same time."


Jack:  "And now, folks, our conductor, Abraham Lyman, will play... what's it going to be, Abe?"

Abe:  "Here, it's written in this little book.  Open it and read it."

Jack:  "Why don't you read it yourself?"

Abe:  "If I could read, I'd get my own program."

(In later years, this kind of joke  would routinely be assigned to Phil, but illiteracy jokes haven't become part of Phil's repertoire yet.)


Jack:  "Say, who's that new Saxophone player over there?"

Abe:  "You mean Butch?"

Jack:  "Yes, yes.  I noticed he was scribbling on a little piece of paper all during the last number.  What was that for?"

Abe:  "Well, every month he has to write a letter to the parole board."

Jack:  "Well, that's sweet  of him to remember..."

(Another joke that would routinely be given to Phil's boys later).


Jack:  "Harry, that's a nice bunch of boys Abe has there."

Harry:  "Yes, they are, Jack.  They all came in cabs... which they drove."


Harry von Zell:  "Ladies and gentlemen, if you're looking for an economical dessert... be sure and go to your nearest grocer, and ask for... a package of..."

Jack:  "Jell-O, for heaven's sake!"

Harry:  "...Jell-O  for heaven's sake.  It comes in six delicious flavors; Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Cherry and Strawberry."

Jack:  "Look, what happened to Lemon and Lime?"

Harry:  "Oh!  Yes.  Lemon, Lime, Strawberry, Raspberry and Cherry."

Jack:  "Now Orange has disappeared... in there.  Lookit, just drop it.  Let it go."

Harry:  "Oh, no.  Oh, no!  …So, insist on genuine Jell-O.  Look for the big red letters on the Orange!"

Jack:  "That's ON THE BOX!!  Poor Don Wilson, I bet he collapsed in front of his radio."


Kate Smith:  "...If this is the first time you've worked with Jack, there are some things that every girl should know.  If Jack asks you out to dinner, and tells you there's a marvelous floorshow at the automat, don't fall for it.  However, if you do go out to a nightclub with Jack, and he asks you to dance with him, say no, as he'll want to roll up his pants and do the minuet."

JOKE:  (Jack wants to do something for Kate Smith to thank her for appearing.)

Jack:  "You've been so sweet though, Kate, I insist."

Kate:  "Well, all right.  If it'll make you any happier, you can buy me a nice ermine wrap."

Jack:  "Well, I'll do that, I will.  And now... Hey, wait a minute, you mean REAL ermine??"

Kate:  "Well, of course, Jack."

Jack:  "Well Kate, I'd run right out and buy you one, except today is Sunday and every place is closed."

Abe:  "I can get one of my boys to open the store for you!"


Rochester:  "I've been weekending up in Harlem.  We had a gin barbecue."

Jack:   "Fine, I had to do all my own unpacking.  what do you think I brought you for?"

Rochester:  "You didn't say."

Jack:   "You're supposed to be working for me and you spend all your time in Harlem.  I suppose you went to all the hot spots."

Rochester:  "There ain't no cool ones, there!"

Jack:   "Never mind, now look Rochester, go right over to the Waldorf Astoria, and straighten up my suite."

Rochester:  "Did you move from the YMCA?"

(In later years, a dive known as The Acme Plaza would become Jack's hotel of choice any time he visited New York.)


Fred Allen:  "Thank you ladies and gentlemen, it's certainly surprising to see so many of you in here tonight.  It's not raining outside, is it?"

Jack:  "No, it's not raining, Fred, these people are all here to see me."

Fred:  "And you're not giving away dishes or anything, Mr. Benny?"

Jack:  "No sir, it's just me."

Fred:  "Now  look, Jack, you couldn't draw a crowd as big as this if you were a gutter on New Year's Eve."

Jack:  "Oh, I couldn't, eh?"

Fred:  "With running water, I'll throw that in."


Jack (laughing through the line):  "If you got paid for that picture, and I think you did, you should split 50/50 with Santa Claus!"

Fred:  "First time I ever saw a radio comedian who was his own studio audience."


Harry:  "I came here to help Jack out tonight.  He needed an announcer."

Fred:  "Oh, is he going to pay you?"

Jack:  "Certainly not, he's doing it as a favor.  Of course, I will buy him a necktie or something."

Fred:  "What do you mean "something"?"

Jack:  "Something cheaper, and shut up!"

Fred:  "I thought so!  Benny, you're so tight, you've not only got the first dollar you ever earned, you've got the guy's right arm who handed it to you!"

JOKE:  (Abe Lyman has latched onto the word "debonair", and keeps using it).

Jack:  "Oh, are we bothering you, Abe?"

Abe:  "Yeah, why don't you two guys be debonair!"

Jack:  "Abe, if you say debonair once more, I'm going to ask you what it means!"

Fred:  "Well, how will you know if his answer is correct?"

Jack:  "Don't worry about me, I know plenty of big words!"

Fred:  "Look, I've got words I could cut in halves, and you wouldn't understand either half of it.  Now, look you itinerant buffoon.  The only big word you know is your right name."

Jack:  "Well, what if I did reduce it a little?  My right name wasn't so long."

Fred:  "Why, your name was so long it used to take 15 minutes to write it in shorthand."

(This is only the second reference I've seen alluding to the fact that Benny isn't Jack's real name (the other coming on 1/24/37).)


Jack:  "You should talk!  When you were in vaudeville, they had to put your right name on a rubber marquee!"

(Not very funny, or very accurate either, since Fred Allen's real name was John Sullivan).


Fred:  "Now, that's enough, Benny!  One more... crack... and I'll hit you on top of your head so hard, you'll think your feet are bookends for your... for your head!"

Jack:  "I'm glad you... loused that one up!"

(After this, Jack and Fred both laugh through their closing insults, before Fred storms out).


27    04/03/38             RETURNING TO HOLLYWOOD     (29:48)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:    The orchestra opens with "Heigh Ho" from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".

THE SHOW:   Jack has been delayed, so Georgie Jessel MC's the show in the meantime.  They discuss how Georgie hopes to get paid for this appearance (and he's already got a Boy Scout knife, so forget that), and his odds of achieving this.  Don explains that Jack and Rochester were delayed in Albuquerque (again??).  The action transitions to them...

SITUATION COMEDY:  The action moves to a sitcom scene with Jack and Rochester, on a later train, having missed their first one.  They discuss the trip and how they missed their connection, when Jack finds a radio in the observation car, and tunes in to the program...

THE SHOW:  ...Jack tunes back into the show, where Don is doing a Jell-O commercial.  Everyone discusses how much funnier Georgie is than Jack.  Georgie is still concerned about getting paid for his appearance.  The orchestra plays "Swinging Annie Laurie Through the Rye".  Kenny walks in and mistakes Georgie for Jack.  Jack arrives and takes people to task for slamming him while he was gone, and starts trying to wheedle Georgie into doing the appearance for free.  Georgie gets Jack to write a check for $500, but Jack's hand shakes as he writes it (he also accidentally postdates it to 1940).  After Georgie leaves, the Knocking Man comes in for a quip about the check Jack wrote.  Kenny sings "And I'm From Right This Way".  Jack takes umbrage that nobody listened to his show last week.  Phil claims that he did, but pretends to know about a routine Jack says he did with Paul Whiteman (who wasn't there).  Andy and Shleperman drop by for a visit.  Shleperman is now a farmer, living next to Andy.  Jack leaves when gets a phone call from Rochester saying that the house was burgled while they were gone.  The orchestra closes with "Tonight We Love" from "Romance in the North".

PLAY:  None.

DON'S 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, Georgie Jessel!"


RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  During the opening number, one notices just how monotonous "Heigh Ho" can get be without the lyrics.

NOTE:  There's another mention during the opening commercial that restaurants serving real Jell-O can now display an autographed picture of Jack Benny.  I wonder where they displayed the picture?  Was it on the wall?  Or on the door as you came in?  Or did the waiters have to wear Jack's picture on a button?  Or maybe they carried it in a wallet like a police badge?  Oh, I know!  Maybe they glued it to a toothpick and stuck it in the Jell-O as it was being served.

NOTE:  The motif of Jack arriving in mid-program is a lot like the Driving Back from San Francisco episode on 1/16.  Obviously that went over well.

NOTE:  Jack names all his guest stars from last week, claiming that they appeared without receiving remuneration.

UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR:  The opening commercial features another piece of viewer mail, this time from a listener asking if there's two Jell-O's or only one.  Don assures him there's only one.  This is probably a reference to the tendency to use brand names generically (i.e. there was a time when every flying disc was a Frisbee, just as every trash bin is still called a Dumpster).  It makes you wonder though, what kind of person would write this kind of letter.  "Dear General Foods, I heard someone offhandedly refer to Royal Gelatin as Jell-O.  Is this true??"  Who would write this letter??  If you're that curious, why not ask your grocer?  Or even a lawyer, if it's that important.  Writing to General Foods and hoping for an answer wouldn't be my first choice.

NOTE:  Georgie Jessel gets to say "Jell-O again" in this episode, making him the 4th person other than Jack (Don, Mary and Phil being the other three), who's gotten to use this phrase on the show.

NOTE:  There's an odd reference to Gracie Allen at 12:30.

Mary:  "You'll like [Kenny], Georgie, he's a great kid.  He thinks Gracie Allen should be President.

(The extended "Gracie Allen for President" storyline ran on the "Hinds Honey & Almond Cream Show" (aka Burns & Allen) in Spring, 1940.  Either the joke was kicking around much earlier, or Mary is unusually prescient here.)

NOTE:  Jack is living in a house now.  A few years back he had a landlady (although he might be living in a rental).  He's building a new house soon, that he will claim is the first place he's ever owned.

NOTE:  Fred Allen accused Jack of stealing everything out of the Waldorf on his last show.  Jack denies hearing it but seems to know all about it.


Jack:  "We would have been home yesterday if you hadn't got off in Albuquerque to look at those Indians."

Rochester:  "I thought I was back in Harlem!"

Jack:  "Harlem?  I told you before, all those people at the station were Indians!"

Rochester:  "Indians?"

Jack:  "Yes."

Rochester:  "Well, just the same, I saw a papoose eating a pork chop."

Jack:  "Well, what of it?  He can be an Indian and still eat a pork chop."

Rochester:  "I know, but he had it between two slices of watermelon!"

I actually saw this exchange in some Sociology or Philosophy (or maybe History) textbook in college, presented as evidence that either Jack's show or radio in general (as you can see, I don't remember this very well) was racially insensitive in the 1930's.  It's certainly the kind of thing that would make a modern audience cringe, and it isn't "funny" at all (IMO).  It's a stream of consciousness style joke that's not funny on paper (and wouldn't be funny even if it were non-racial, incidentally), but which depends on the actors' delivery to wring a laugh out of it.  An exchange line like this would absolutely never fly today, but on the other hand, it's not exactly inflammatory either.  It's kind of dumb, and kind of unfunny, but not nasty.  The pre-war Benny show occasionally had stereotypical humor, but never anything that reflected animosity towards any minority group.  But Tolerate this sequence or Hate it (Loving it isn't really an option in this case), just as a reference point, this is about as "bad" as the Benny show ever got.

NOTE:  This is the first time they mention Albuquerque without making any allusion to the Train Porter scene from 3/28/37.  They probably figured that this long afterwards, anyone who remembered that scene would laugh just from hearing the word "Albuquerque" without needing further reminders.

NOTE:  Georgie Jessel has a personal appearance in Detroit next week.


Jack:  "You were supposed to help me, but the only time I saw you is when you needed money.  Why, you spent more than I did!"

Rochester:  "That ain't no record!"


Jack:  "Pardon me, madam, do you mind if I tune in the radio?"

Woman:  "No, go right ahead."

Jack:  "Thanks, I'm very anxious to hear The Jack Benny Program."

Woman, derisively:  "You're just the type!"

JOKE:  (Jack and Rochester are listening to their own show on the radio, going on in their absence).

Don, on Radio:  "Say Georgie, you've known Jack quite a little while, haven't you?

Georgie, on Radio:  "Yes, Jack and I have been in show business for about the same length of time.  As a matter of fact, we started out in the very same theater."

Don, on Radio:  "Oh, in the same theater, huh?"

Georgie, on Radio:  "Mmm hmm, and even in those days, Jack was a real showman.  He wouldn't sell one single peanut during my act."

Jack:  "That's a lie, it was popcorn!"

JOKE:  (Jack and Rochester are still listening to their show on the radio).

Mary, on Radio:  "But at least you're different from Jack.  You smile and laugh once in a while.  Jack never laughs."

Georgie, on Radio:  "Well, my teeth don't slip out."

Rochester:  "Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee!  Yeah, that's a good one!"

Jack:  "Now Rochester, my teeth DON'T slip out!"

Rochester:  "Yeah, you hold 'em in better than anybody!"

JOKE:  (Jack and Rochester are listening to their show on the radio).

Georgie, on radio:  "But Mary, Jack isn't THAT tight."

Mary, on radio:  "He isn't, eh?  Listen, Georgie.  Jack has been in New York a week, and I'll bet he's still got California air in his pocketbook."

Georgie, on radio:  "But surely... but surely he'd open it up to let the moths see Radio City, wouldn't he?"

Rochester:  "Hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee, hee!"

Jack:  "Rochester!"

Rochester, switching gears:  "...He ain't no good at all!!"


Georgie:  "And I must say, Phil, after hearing the boys, I'm surprised at the way Jack stands up here every week and keeps running down your music.  He shouldn't DO that!"

Phil:  "Of course he shouldn't.  My music is all right."

Georgie:  "No, it's pretty bad, but Jack should never MENTION it!"


Kenny:  "Say, didn't I see you in a picture the other day with Bette Davis?"

Georgie:  "What picture?"

Kenny:  "Jessel Belle."

Georgie:  "Jessell Belle??  Look Kenny, the name of the picture is Jezebel!  It wasn't me, I don't make pictures, and here's your dollar, Mary!"

Mary:  "Thanks."

Kenny:  "Hey, what's going on?"

Georgie:  "Nothing Kenny, I just bet Mary a dollar that you couldn't drive me nuts."

Kenny:  "Gee, you're a sucker."

FLUB:  (16:50)

Don:  "Jack, tell us about your trip to New Rrrrrrork, did you have a lot of fun?"

Jack:  "New Rrrrrrork??"

FLUB:  (Even Mary didn't listen to Jack's show last week, and Jack wants to know why).

Jack:  "Fine.  You were the hostess, why didn't you put your foot down?"

Mary:  "I did! I said this is my party, you can either listen to Jack or go ho-ho-home!"

Jack:  "Read that again, Mary, it's an awful good line.  You know, put force into it, go ahead."

Mary:  "I did!"

Jack:  "Uh huh.  Wait, I'll ask you first.  You were the hostess, why didn't you put your foot down?"

Mary:  "I did. I said this is my party, you can either listen to Jack or go home!"

Jack:  "That's great.  What else did you say?"

Mary:  "Nothing, I was alone."

JOKE:  (Jack's house has been burgled in their absence).

Jack:  "What else is missing?"

Rochester:  "You know that great big picture of you that hangs on the North Wall?"

Jack:  "Which one?"

Rochester:  "The one where you're wearing evening clothes."

Jack:  "Yes, yes, what about it?"

Rochester:  "You're in BVD's now!"


28.    04/10/38            A YANK AT OXFORD     (29:54)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Something Tells Me". 

They talk about the house that Jack built.  Or the one that he's building.  Or is HAVING built, at least.  Jack talks about how his architect, Carlton Burgess is too extravagant.  Phil talks about his own place.  Kenny comes in, laughing at the screwy house he saw being built on the way over.  They discuss whether it was Jack's house, finally determining that it was.  Jack leaves to make an angry phone call when he learns that the carpenters were seen selling lumber.  The orchestra plays a number, but nobody has no idea what it was.  Jack announces the play, and brings in Lionel Kvetch to play Lionel Barrymore's role from the movie.  Jack and Kvetch argue about whether he'll be paid in advance, since Fred Allen warned him about Jack.  Kenny sings "Goodnight, Angel" from "Radio City Rebels".  Kenny doesn't remember if he was in that movie, as he hasn't seen it.  After this, the play begins.

PLAY:  "A Yank at Oxford", or "A Cluck in Waukegan", based on "A Yank at Oxford" (1938), starring Robert Taylor, Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan.  Jack is a Yank (or a jerk, anyway) who goes off to Oxford, leaving his girlfriend behind.  He tries to find his way to Oxford, but eventually returns home rather than trying to decipher The Mumbling Man's directions.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who has just become Beverly Hill's latest taxpayer and home owner, Jack Benny!"


MINOR ROLES:  Charley Bagby, Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Cliff Nazarro, Frank Remley, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  It's mentioned that this is the first house Jack has ever owned.  In at least one previous episode, he had a landlady, and he has been described on a couple of occasions as living in a house (although it could have been a rental).  Jack's real-life address was 1002 Roxbury in Beverly Hills (next door to Lucille Ball), but whenever his address is mentioned on the air (which it wasn't in this episode), it's given as 336 (sometimes 366) North Camden Drive.  In several Burns & Allen radio shows, the Burns address is given as 366 North Camden Drive (possibly as an tie-in with Jack, although George and Jack are never described as being neighbors on the air).  In the Burns & Allen TV show, their address was 312 Maple Drive, while in real life it was 720 Maple drive.  The last time I was in Beverly Hills, I found Camden Drive a few blocks away from Jack's house, but not NORTH Camden Drive. 

NOTE:  Phil claims to have built a ranch house off Ventura Boulevard, with 14 rooms and an 8 car garage.  This place is known as "Auto Camp #7".

NOTE:  (4:30) The Dining Room wallpaper in Jack's new house is going to be a deep salmon color, with pink Billy goats, sleeping over lavender cactus plants.  The bedroom will have bright gold wallpaper, with little red butterflies chasing baby blue gorillas, with an American flag on the ceiling.

NOTE:  Jack is planning to install a Tulip bed in his new house that spells out the word "Jell-O".

NOTE:  Jack's new house is between a fish market and a Turkish bath.  The swimming pool is said to be so large it has a lighthouse.

JOKE:  Regarding Jack's bedroom decor...

Mary:  ...And there's an American flag spread all over the ceiling."

Jack:  "that's fine, I'll have to sleep standing up."

ANOTHER CRAZY TOWN NAME:  During the play, they pass through the town of "Marmalade on the Crumpet".

"RACIAL" HUMOR:  In the play, English Jell-O's six delicious flavors are Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Limey.


Don:  "(In quavering voice) Say Jack, you know, I'd like to drive out and see your place some time.  Is it a nice neighborhood?"

Jack:  "(In the same quavering voice) Now, that's a silly question!"

JOKE:  (Jack tries to announce the orchestra's number)

Jack:  "That was um... that was uh... Say Phil, what was that number you just played?"

Phil:  "Just a minute, Jack.  I'll ask one of my boys.  Hey Frank, what was that number we just finished?"

Frank:  "That Moon Is Here Again."

Phil:  "No, no, that was last week.  I mean that one we just got through with."

Jack:  "Well, never mind, Phil."

Phil:  "No, no I want to find out!  hey Charlie, do you know what that number was?"

Charlie:  "Crestview-1478."

Phil:  "Not her, I mean the number we just played!"

Jack:  "Now look, Phil, you're the leader, you ought to have some idea what it was."

Phil:  "Well, how did I know you were going to ask me?"

Jack:  "Good heavens, I've got to announce something.  Mary, did you recognize the number Phil just played?"

Mary:  "No, and neither did the guy that wrote it."

Jack:  "Oh well, let it go.  Anyway folks, that was Something or Other, from the picture of the same name, played by Phil Harris and His Orchestra."

JOKE:  (Jack compares himself to Robert Taylor).

Jack:  "And we [Robert Taylor and I] even like the same girl, Barbara Stanwyck."

Phil:  "Only he goes out with her."

Jack:  "Is that so?  Hey, I could get a date with Barbara Stanwyck too, couldn't I, Mary?"

Mary:  "You couldn't get a date with Barbara Frietchie."

Jack:  "Barbara Frietchie?"

Kenny:  "What studio is she with?"

Jack:  "18th Century Fox, and keep still!"


Jack:  "Let me tell you something, Mr. Kvetch.  Fred Allen should be the last guy in the world to say that I'm cheap."

Kvetch:  "Why, is he that way too?"

Jack:  "Listen, any man that would use the same toothbrush for nine years, and then have it re-bristled....well!"

Kvetch:  "Gee whiz, he can't be that bad."

Jack:  "He can't, eh? Now, you may not believe this, Mr. Kvetch, but Allen makes his own underwear out of flower sacks.  His shorts have "Swansdown" stamped on them."

Kvetch:  "Is that a fact?"

Jack:  "Absolutely, I kicked him in the pants one day and started a dust storm!"

(Cheap Jokes definitely belong with Jack at this point, but not so much that he can't still sometimes tell them about other people.)


Jack:  "We will go on with [the play] immediately after Kenny Baker's number.  What are you going to sing, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "'Goodnight Angel' from Radio City Rebels."

Jack:  "Oh, from Radio City Rebels.  Say Kenny, you're in that picture, aren't you?"

Kenny:  "I don't know, I haven't seen it yet."

JOKE:  (Casting the play)

Mary:  "Say Jack, who's going to play your father?  You know, Lionel Barrymore's part."

Jack:  "Well, I tell you Mary, I've been trying to get Lionel Barrymore himself to play it.  I've been sort of fishing around for him, but so far no luck."

Mary:  "Why don't you put some money on the hook?"

JOKE:  (Still casting the play)

Kenny:  "Wait a minute, Jack.  Am I going to be in the play tonight?"

Jack:  "Oh sure, Kenny.  You're going to be a young Englishman."

Kenny:  "Why can't I be a professor at Oxford?"

Jack:  "Well, in the first place, Kenny, you haven't any brains.  And in the second place..."

Kenny:  "That's enough."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  (In the play, Jack is going to college, leaving his girlfriend behind).

Jack:  "You'll be true to me while I'm gone, won't you?"

Mary:  "Yes, Bob.  I'll be as true as Ben Turpin with a bow and arrow."

(Turpin was a notoriously cross-eyed actor from the silent era)..


Train Announcer:  Train leaving for Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany, and Oh, a LOT of places!"

(The Knocking Man delivers this line.  In later years, train station announcements would be the exclusive province of Mel Blanc.)

"RACIAL" HUMOR:  (Jack is in England, trying to find Oxford).

Jack:  "Pardon me, sir.  Is this the right road to Oxford?"

Phil:  "Oxford, old boy?  My word, is that in England?"

Jack:  "Well, gee whiz, it's supposed to be."

Phil:  "Are you looking for Oxford on the Thames, or Oxford on the Avon?"

Jack:  "I want just plain Oxford!"

Phil:  "what size?"

Jack:  "Nine and a half-B... Oh, go away!  Gee.  Somebody must know where Oxford is.  Oh, I say young fellow."

Kenny:  "Hello, old thing."

Jack:  "Can you tell me how to get to Oxford?"

Kenny:  "Oxford, old thing?"

Jack:  "Yes."

Kenny:  "Well, old thing..."

Jack:  "Stop calling me old thing!  Now, do you know where Oxford is?"

Kenny:  "I don't even know where I am.  Cheerio."

Jack:  "Cheerio!  He's about as English as a hot dog!"


29.    04/17/38            AT THE CIRCUS - Easter Show    (29:12)

ORCHESTRA OPENING: The orchestra opens with "Cry, Baby, Cry". 

The show is broadcast on Easter Sunday, so they discuss Jack's squeaky shoes and Don's squeaky suit.  Phil came to the program in slacks, an old suit, and no necktie, so they argue about whether he still looks better than Jack.  They talk about Jack walking in the Easter parade earlier in the day.  Kenny comes in, and confesses to having listened to Fred Allen's show.  Fred has been running Jack down on his show again, and they discuss what Jack should do about it (Kenny suggests having Fred bumped off).  Mary realizes she forgot to write a poem, and so starts to write one while Kenny sings.  Kenny sings "Donkey Serenade" from "The Firefly".  Mary isn't done with her poem, so Don helpfully jumps in with a Jell-O Commercial.  Kenny wants to do a play, but Jack argues that they don't have to have one every night.  Instead, he cuts the show short, to take everyone to the circus.  Andy drops in to talk about his relatives, and goes along with the others, as Jack leaves Phil in charge to close out the show.  After Jack leaves, the Knocking Man drops in to annoy Phil for a change.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number, and we switch over to the circus...

PLAY:  None.  Jack, Mary, Kenny and Andy play hooky, leaving Phil and Don behind to run the show.  This is another of those odd situations, where the real Benny show and the fictional one diverge from each other.  Supposedly, the fictional Benny show is still going on without Jack, as an all-music program, while the real Benny Show is following the action at the circus.

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack got free passes to the circus in exchange for letting them put posters all over his new house.  They meet Rochester, who's supposed to be home working.  Jack finds out that his passes were for the matinee.  Everyone else wants Jack to just buy tickets, but Jack determines to get into the circus for free, on principle.  They try to sneak under a tent, and end up in the lion's cage.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who is celebrating Easter with a new suit, new shirt, new tie, and new shoes that squeak, Jack Benny!"

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine, Sam Hearn,

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Joe Franz, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  The Jell-O commercial mentions that the flavor is sealed in with a special process.  They never talk about this at this point, but in the final Jell-O season, they make a major selling point in almost every commercial about a new process in which the flavor is "Locked In".  This is supposed to explain why you can't smell Jell-O in the package:  the flavor isn't released until it hits the water.  So, somehow the "Locked In" process is better than the "Sealed In" process they were using before, but don't ask me to explain how.  I'm one of those types who is content to eat Jell-O, but has absolutely no idea how it works.

NOTE:  Fred Allen claimed that Jack's toupee doesn't fit, and Jack denies wearing one.  Toupee jokes are still very rare at this point, but should be on the radar soon.

NOTE:  Jack announces that next Sunday is their Highlight of the entire season:  a play based on that new Disney movie "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs".  Disney was not the major name then that he is now.  "Snow White" was their first movie, and less than six months old at this point.  For Jack to consider this play to be the highlight of their season tells you just how well received it was.

FREAK SHOW:  At the Circus Freak Show, they see the Wild Man of Borneo (made that way by Town Hall Tonight, obviously a reference to Fred Allen, but there's probably more to it that I'm not getting), a living skeleton, a snake charmer, a tattooed man, and a man with a pin head (Jack).

MARY'S POEM:  "Easter Greetings, by Mary O. Livingstone"

Oh, Happy Easter, Happy Easter,

you are with us once again.

with your Easter eggs so tempting,

some are candy, some are hen.


Boys and girls all dressed up pretty,

parade the streets in every city.

And all show off their Easter stuff,

even though it's on the cuff.


I like to smell your Easter lilies,

your hot cross buns, I love to tackle.

Your rabbits all lay eggs, they say,

but gee, I never heard one cackle.


So, I salute you, Happy Easter,

with one hip-hip and two hurrahs.

Until you come next year to greet us,

I saw farewell.  The End.  Applause.


(Jack is still not yet at the point where he can't tell cheap jokes about others, or about Fred Allen, at least.)

Jack:  "Any man that will open a can of sardines, eat them, and then save the tails for hash... well!"


Jack:  "Say you're just in time.  We're all going to the circus and I got a pass for you too.  Do you want to go along?"

Andy:  "Sure Buck I got an aunt with that show. She's the bearded lady."

Jack:  "Your aunt?  How did she become a bearded lady?"

Andy:  "Oh, she just got tired of shaving one day."


Kenny:  "I want to get my girl's name tattooed on my chest!"

Jack:  "What's her name, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "Genevieve Kretchenborgenpfeffer."

Jack:  "You'd better get another girl or a bigger chest."

(Kenny's other girl, Lina the Giggler, seems to be gone by this point.  And if it gets us a joke like this, we're well rid of her.)


Jack:  "Do you want a balloon, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "Naw, that's for children.  I want a Tom Collins!"

Jack:  "Kenny, you don't even know what a Tom Collins is."

Kenny:  "I do too, it's a hard-boiled lemonade!"


Jack:  "Broke again, eh?  What happened to that five dollars I gave you last night?"

Rochester:  "What?"

Jack:  "I gave you five dollars last night, now what did you do with it?"

Rochester:  "I sent that out to fight the recession."

Jack:  "Now, tell me the truth, Rochester.  What did you do with that money?"

Rochester:  "I went to the barber shop."

Jack:  "That's ridiculous.  How could you spend five dollars in a barber shop?"

Rochester:  "The barber threw a seven."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  (Mary, describes trying to get into the circus for free by sneaking under a tent:)

Mary:  "This is like going to the circus with Harry Lauder."

(Sir Harry Lauder was a world famous Scottish singer and music hall player, who made Scottishness and all that that entails in the public imagination into a major part of his act.  He wasn't particularly cheap, but was notoriously thrifty, and actually had a song entitled "Always Take Care Of Your Pennies". 

Lauder was a self-made man, who started out as a coal miner, but built a career with his own sooty hands, singing in the provinces.  He cracked into the London music hall scene around 1900, and was making international tours by 1907.  He was knighted in the World War (as it was called then) for going out to the front lines and entertaining troops actually under fire, after his son was killed in action.  By the late 1930's, he was in his late 60's, and making a seemingly endless series of farewell tours, but was still well enough known to the average listener to be used in a joke like this.  Lauder's biggest hits were probably "Roamin' in the Gloamin'", "I Love a Lassie", "Just a Wee Deoch an' Doris", and others too numerous to mention.  He was a great entertainer, but would probably have to be considered "an acquired taste" for modern audiences.)


30.    04/24/38            SNOW WHITE & THE SEVEN GANGSTERS (29:36)

ORCHESTRA OPENINGThe orchestra opens with "Hooray for Hollywood" from "Hollywood Hotel". 

Today is the first day of Daylight Savings Time.  Everyone discusses what they would do if they had that extra hour (see Note below).  Don would go on a diet, and not eat for a whole hour.  Phil comes in his pyjamas, because he forgot about the program starting an hour earlier, and woke up late.  Kenny set his watch ahead and got here an hour early.  Jack announces that the play is very long, and must begin immediately.  Phil missed the rehearsals, and so didn't know they were doing a musical comedy.  The play is "Snow White", but since none of them resemble dwarfs (or even dwarves, since nobody has heard of Tolkien at this point), they change the dwarfs to gangsters.  To get in the mood, Don does a very hard-boiled Jell-O commercial, see!  Kenny sings "One Song" from "Show White and the Seven Dwarfs", and the play begins.

PLAY:  "Snow White and the Seven Gangsters", based on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" (1937), and featuring several songs from the movie.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being the first day of Daylight Savings Time, we bring you a man who saves time, money, and old pieces of string, Jack Benny!"

VIEWER MAIL:  The opening commercial features another piece of "Viewer Mail", this time from a woman saying that she's enjoyed Jell-O for so long that she still remembers the Jell-O girl.  I'd never even heard of the Jell-O girl, (on this program or anywhere else), and that's kind of a bummer when you think about it.  To think that she'd be the face of their whole product and then disappear completely.  You'd think they'd let her still hang around the factory or something.  If you Google the words "Jell-O Girl", a lot of hits come up.  I even found this picture at which shows her sitting in front of only four delicious flavors:  Strawberry, Lemon, Orange and Raspberry.  Apparently, Cherry and Lime were late-comers to the party, which is a shame as they're my two favorite of the six delicious flavors.  I've eaten a lot of Jell-O again, since listening to the Benny Show, after not eating it for years.  I know there are a lot more flavors now, but as a purist, I eat ONLY the six "canonical" delicious flavors that Don Wilson advertised.  (I do cheat a bit by eating sugar-free versions, which weren't available in the 1930's, but only because I can't tell the difference between them).

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Wally Baker, Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  At this time, Daylight Savings Time is only used in the East.  So, the time has changed for some of their viewers, but not for the actual cast of the show.

THE TINNY GONG:  At 6:20, as Jack announces the name of the play, a very tinny gong is struck.  This is the first time it's used, but it will show up semi-regularly in the future.

NOTE:  A version of Snow White with gangsters instead of dwarfs is extremely similar to the dynamic created for "The Perils of Penelope Pitstop" 30 years later.  This cartoon featured Penelope Pitstop as the Snow White character, and her protectors, the Anthill Mob (Seven guys who were both dwarfs and gangsters).  In fact, in the first episode of "Wacky Races" (the show that Penelope Pitstop was spun off from), the Anthill Mob disguises themselves as the Seven Dwarfs to fool Penelope.  Any resemblance between Penelope Pitstop and a 30 year old Jack Benny play is entirely coincidental.

NOTE:  There are several jokes in this episode about it raining a lot in California, even though officially it's not supposed to.  This was a fairly standard joke in those days, but has appeared only rarely on the Benny Show for some reason.

NOTE:  In the play, the Benny Gang's hideout is in an isolated farmhouse on Long Island.

NOTE:  Starting this Tuesday, "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" moves from Saturdays to Tuesdays.

NOTE:  Jack's plays have always been less interesting to me than the rest of the show.  They're not bad, but not nearly as good as simply listening to Jack and his cast just stand around and shoot the breeze.  I really wanted to love this play, based it is on such a classic movie.  But this play, like most of them, is fun, but not great.  One of the reasons why the plays suffer a bit is that they're very light on plot, and don't really tell a story in the same way that Jack's situation comedy scenes do.  A lot of the time, they seem to consist of highlights, which make sense if you've seen the movie the play is based on, but not so much if you haven't.  This play consists of a Hideout scene, where the gangsters sit around and trade gangster jokes (granted, many of these are good, and couldn't be used easily in the rest of the show).  A scene with Snow and Charming, a scene with Snow and the Witch, and a scene in which the gangsters catch Snow, and are about to do away with her, but change their minds for no particular reason, and the play ends there.  It's fun, but there's not much story here.  The kids probably loved it, though, and unlike most of Jack's plays, this one features several songs from the movie.  It is definitely their most notable play of the season.

NOTE:  Jack usually doesn't play a very convincing gangster, and snarls his way through the parts too much.  At least, he doesn't play a very convincing *comic* gangster.  He once did a pretty good job in a straight role on another program, playing a character named "Killer Cates" (actually a mentally disturbed actor who began to assume a role he'd played for too long.)


"Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho (To Rob the Bank I'll Go) (by the gangsters)

"Some Day" (Mary and Shleperman)

"Don't Whistle While You work" (the gangsters)

"I'm Wishing" (Mary and Andy)


Jack plays "Doc" Benny (no relation to the Doc Benny of Doc Benny's Minstrels).  Don is Happy, Kenny is Dopey, Phil is Sleepy, Andy is Bashful.  Mary (who else?) is Snow White.  Shleperman (again, who else?) plays Prince Charming.  The Witch, Grumpy and Sneezy are played by extras, which is kind of a shame, as Rochester would have made a great Sneezy.


Kenny:  "Say Jack, I didn't see that play.  What's a Dwarf?"

Jack:  "A dwarf, Kenny, is a jockey with a long beard."


Jack: "The next person who says it rains in California gets hit with my umbrella!"


Among the gangsters travails, Dopey picked Fred Allen's pocket, while Bashful took a guy for a ride, and went in separate cars.


Jack:  "Just as soon as our supply of dynamite gets here, we'll go."

[Knock, knock, knock]

Jack:  "Come in."

Knocking Man:  "Package of dynamite for Doc Benny.  Sign here."

Jack:  "Now, wait a minute, is this dynamite good and strong?"

Knocking Man:  "I think so, I had two arms when I started out.  Goodbye."


Mary:  "You are a real Prince, aren't you?"

Shleperman:  "Coitanly, I've got a coat of arms with a belt in the back."


Jack:  "Hey Dopey, stop chewing that dynamite!  You'll blow your brains out."

Kenny:  "If I had any brains, I wouldn't be chewing it."


Mary and Andy's short rendition of "I'm Wishing" is classic.  None of the words are changed, but any time Andy sings, it's funny, and this time he plays very well off of Mary, who does a pretty spot-on impression of Snow White's voice from the movie.

THE BIGGEST LAUGHS:  (One of the show's biggest-ever laughs comes 21 minutes into the program:)

Snow White in the woods:  "Ah, here I am in the woods.  And look at the animals following me.  Oh, see the pretty bird.  Hello, bird."

Bird, grunting:  "Uhhhh??"

(This gets an ENORMOUS laugh (it's a full 30 seconds before Mary can deliver her next line, "Isn't that pretty?").  It's not clear why this should have gone over so well.  Was there a visual aspect that only the audience could see, or is the entire laugh really built on the idea that the pretty little bird's voice was so different than expected?)

A moment later comes this joke:

Snow White:  "Gee, none of these animals are afraid of me.  Look at that pussycat with the bushy tail.  Come here, pussy!  Oh, my mistake!  Get away, pussy!"

(I thought this was much funnier than the other, and it barely gets a laugh at all.  Audiences are weird sometimes.)


31.    05/01/38         Beverly Hills Home Under Construction    (28:51)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Latin Quarter" from "Golddiggers in Paris".  Everyone argues about whether Jack is still a movie star when he hasn't made a picture in some time.  Jack insists that he is, because Adolph Zucker at Paramount gave him a 4 year contract (which seems like a reasonable enough argument to me, actually).  Phil asks about the movie Jack was going to make with Francisca Doll (good continuity, as this hasn't been mentioned for some time), but it was cancelled.  They argue about whether Clark Gable is better than Jack (Jack says no, everyone else says yes).  Jack talks about his experiences leaving his footprints at Grauman's.  They start to talk about the new house Jack is building, but Jack decides to talk about his movie career after all, and announces that he's about to film "Artists and Models Abroad".  Kenny comes in, reading Einstein's new lowdown on the Theory of Mathematics.  Kenny sings "Love Walked In" from "The Goldwyn Follies".  Jack compliments Kenny on his portrayal of Dopey last week.  Phil dreams about how good he would have been as Prince Charming if he'd gotten that role.  Mary says she met Disney on the street, who liked her so much as Snow White that he wants her to do a Silly Symphony.  Everyone discusses which Disney character they'd like to play.  Thinking about playing Happy sends Don into a Jell-O based Highland Fling.  Phil asks if they're going to do a play, but Jack has to leave the show early again to supervise the construction of his house.  The orchestra plays "Tippy Tin", and the action moves to Jack's home.

PLAY:  No play, Jack leaves early to supervise the building of his new house.

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack leaves the show early to supervise Carlton Burgess's construction of his house.  Lots of construction jokes, with the major theme being that Burgess always has to loudly announce their arrival before entering a room, to make sure his men look busy by the time they arrive.  Rochester tries to claim the Master Bedroom. 

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who hasn't made a picture in over a year, and still thinks he's a movie star, Jack Benny!" 


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow, Frank Nelson, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  "Latin Quarter" is another one of those numbers that everyone knows, but nobody knows what it's called.

NOTE:  The unnamed movie with Francisca Doll was cancelled in a disagreement over casting.  Jack wanted to play Francisca's lover, Paramount wanted Ray Milland to play her lover, and Jack to play her father.

NOTE:  There's an extended sequence in which they discuss how Jack was asked to put his footprints in cement at Grauman's Chinese Theater, but Jack took his shoes off to keep them clean, and took bows for so long that he got stuck.  In real life, Jack didn't leave his footprints at Grauman's until January 13, 1941.

NOTE:  Judging by the titles, "Artists and Models Abroad" sounds like a sequel to "Artists and Models".  But, according to, Jack's character has a different name in the two movies.  Go figure.  Maybe it's "The Abbott & Costello Syndrome", where the character names change for every movie, even though they're playing exactly the same roles each time.

NOTE:  As far as I can determine, Mary never did do that Silly Symphony, which is kind of a shame, as she did such a killer impersonation of Snow White's singing voice.

NOTE:  When everyone talks about which Disney character they'd like to play, Phil picks Pluto, Don picks Donald Duck, Jack picks Mickey Mouse, and Kenny picks Disney himself.

NOTE:  Phil says he's going to Louisville this week for the Kentucky Derby.

NOTE:  Jack thanks Ed Vandemere for driving his Maxwell in the Annual Fresno State College Hat Race.  Allen's car won by the nose that he talks through.

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  Don wants to know why Paramount doesn't use Jack as much as George Raft.  Jack opines that they're afraid of Raft.  Raft was famous not only for portrayals of gangsters, but also for real life associations with the New York mob.

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  Jack still owes Phil $2 on the Dempsey-Tunney fight.  Jack claims he's not paying because they're still arguing about it.  This is a reference to the Dempsey-Tunney re-match in 1927, and its controversial "Long Count".

UNINTENTIONAL HUMOR:  "The name on the outside of a package of Jell-O tells you a whole lot.  It tells you that you're getting one of the most delicious desserts you ever tasted.  There's only one Jell-O, and that name is a guarantee that you're getting The Real Thing.  For the name Jell-O is a trademark, the property of General Foods.  If you hear any other gelatin dessert called Jell-O, you'll know that is incorrect."

(And if you hear anything else called "The Real Thing", you'll know it's a Coke.)


Jack:  "You know, after all, Adolph Zucker, the head of Paramount, gave me a four year contract.  And he certainly knows his onions."

Mary: "He certainly signs them up, too."

Jack:  "Mary!  You don't come in until the next page."


Jack:  "Where were you, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "Oh, I was just sitting here in the corner with a book."

Jack:  "What book is it?"

Kenny:  "It's Einstein's New Lowdown on the Theory of Higher Mathematics."

Jack:  "Oh.  Say!  Were you reading that?"

Kenny:  "No, I was just pressing a flower in it."


Kenny:  "Here Phil, hold my book.  Don't read it now.

Phil:  "Don't worry, it's a strain for me to read the funny papers."

Jack:  "Yeah.  And don't you bother reading it either, Kenny.  You'd never understand Einstein."

Kenny:  "He'd have trouble with me too."

(Perhaps the first illiteracy joke about Phil.)


Jack:  "Such extravagance.  They've used over six kegs of nails already."

Mary:  "Say Jack, how many nails are in a keg?"

Jack:  "18,967."

Mary:  "I thought you'd know."


Jack:  "How do you like it [the house], Mary?"

Mary:  "It's all right, but what's the idea of all those statues on the roof?"

Jack:  "Those aren't statues.  Hey you guys, get a move on up there!"


Construction Worker:  "Programs!  Programs!  You can't tell the bathroom from the kitchen without a program!"

JOKE:  (Rochester tries to claim the Master Bedroom for himself).

Jack:  "The house isn't ready yet, and besides, your room is over the garage!"

Rochester:  "I looked at that one but it don't seem to fit my personality."


32.    05/08/38            MOTHER'S DAY SHOW     (29:07)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Daydreams" from "Golddiggers in Paris".  Since the program is broadcast on Mother's Day, the cast tries to sustain a rather tortured analogy of Jack as the Mother of the program.  Mary calls Momma to wish her Happy Mother's Day.  The orchestra plays "Morocco".  Everyone discusses their bets in the Kentucky Derby.  Kenny comes in, and needs to hear the explanation about why Jack is a Mother on Mother's Day (and it doesn't make much sense this time either).  Kenny and Mary swap riddles.  Don sings a Jell-0 themed version of "Mother".  Kenny sings "Lost and Found".  Jack announces that his good friend and ex-classmate, "Bidey" Talcott is appearing on the show again.  Bidey comes out, and he and Jack reminisce about Waukegan.  Bidey doesn't understand the whole "Jack as Mother" analogy either.  Jack introduces the play, and Bidey sticks around to take a part.

PLAY:  An unnamed play about Mary as a housewife with multiple lovers hidden about the house at the same time.  There's a recurring joke about Bidey coming in before his cue.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being Mother's Day, we bring you the mother of the Jell-O program, Jack Benny."

SPECIAL GUEST STARS:  Mancel "Bidey" Talcott (Mayor of Waukegan from 1935-1941)



NOTE:  Phil has a drummer from Pango-Pango.

NOTE:  Mary calls her Momma, Bubbles Livingstone.  The phone number is Gooseliver-8400.

NOTE Okay, I give up.  I understand that anyone named "Mancel" pretty much has to have a nickname.  But "Bidey"??  What kind of nickname is that, and how do you get it?  Did he "bide his time" a lot, and they were just too kind to nickname him "Lazy"?

NOTE:  This time we're told that Jack's nickname in school was Droopy.  The last time Bidey was here, Jack's nickname had been Toughie.

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Phil Harris and His Pango-Pango Palookas.


Jack:  "You know what burns me up with some children? Take the ones that are away from home. Now, some don't even bother to write their mother a letter all year. Then on this one day they send her a telegram and scare the dickens out of her!"


Q:  Why did I send my girl a hot dog on Mother's Day?

A:  Because she's a red-hot momma!


Q:  Why is Kenny's head like a Ping-Pong Ball?

A:  Because it is, and there's nothing you can do about it.


Jack:  "I'm not really a Ken, Henny."

DON SINGS:  (to the tune of "Mother")

J is for the Jell-O so delicious.

E is for Each flavor, extra rich.

L is for that Lemon, oh so tempting.

L is for that Lime, just try a dish.

O is for that Orange, so delightful.

Strawberry and Raspberry as well. (and Cherry too!)

Put them all together, they spell Jell-O,

a word that means the world to us.

(Another of those very rare times that we hear the six delicious flavors named out of order!)

JOKE:  (Phil sent an autographed picture to his mother).

Phil:  "I wrote on [the picture I sent to Mother] 'Phil Harris And His Orchestra'.  She'll be mighty proud of that."

Jack:  "She probably will, but you probably should have put 'Phil Harris And His Orchestra on The Jack Benny Program'."

Phil:  "Oh no, I couldn't do that, Jack!"

Jack:  "Why not?"

Phil:  "She thinks I work in a beer parlour."

Jack:  "Oh, I see.  You don't want her to know that you're slipping."

Phil:  "That's it, exactly."

Jack:  "Shut up!"


Phil:  "Now, wait a minute, jack.  The only savage in my band is the drummer.  I picked him up in Pango-Pango."

Jack:  "Oh, a real savage, eh?  How did you happen to meet him?"

Phil:  "I used to go with his sister."


Jack:  "Who did you pick in the Derby?"

Phil:  "Well, there was a little blonde..."

Jack:  "I don't mean the Brown Derby!  Who did you pick in the Kentucky Derby?"

Phil:  "Well, I didn't know who to bet on, so just before the race, I went in the clubhouse to think about it over a mint julep."

Jack:  "Oh, a mint julep, eh?  Who did you finally bet on?"

Phil:  "Fighting Fox, they tell me."

Jack:  "Oh, I see.  Say, I can believe that, I've had a couple of those mint juleps myself, and they're dynamite."

Mary:  "What are they like, Jack?"

Jack:  "Well, after two mint juleps, you sneer at tigers which you see."

Mary:  "But why do you sneer at the tigers?"

Jack:  "Because you HOPE they'll start something."

(An isolated drunkie joke.  At this point, Alcohol is not yet one of Phil's four main food groups.  But a couple of stray jokes like this suggests we may be going there soon.)


Jack:  "I've had enough of this!  The next one that insults the Mayor has to vote for him!"


Phil:  "You know, my band played in Waukegan once?"

Bidey:  "You did?"

Phil:  "Yep, the whole town turned out and we still lost money."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  (In the play)

Bidey:  "Then we can go on our honeymoon to Waukegan Falls."

Mary:  But Mancel, there are no falls in Waukegan."

Bidey: "There are too, the WPA just built some.

(Okay, I give up.  Windows Product Activation?  Women's Prison Association?  Wi-Fi Protect Access?  World Psychiatric Association?  What in the name of FDR is the WPA??)


33.    05/15/38            MURDER IN THE LIBRARY     (28:16)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Life Begins When You're In Love". 

Everyone discusses the racehorse that Jack just bought.  Don offers his services as a jockey.  Phil and Don ask Jack a lot of technical questions about racing that Jack doesn't understand.  Kenny sings "I Fall In Love With You Every Day".  Kenny dedicates the song to Jack's horse, because he's mad at his girlfriend.  Jack announces the play, but before he can begin, Andy and Shleperman arrive, discussing life on their respective farms.  Shlep's crops were ruined when oil was struck.  Jack tries to negotiate to have one of them stable his racehorse, but Shlep is a bit pricey too, and Andy wants to use it for ploughing.  The orchestra plays "Something Tells Me", and the play begins. 

PLAY:  "Murder in the Library", or "Book Marks the Spot".  A fairly standard murder-type mystery in which Captain O'Benny investigates a man murdered by his Black Widow wife, Mary.  In this one, Phil is going out with Mary, and the victim is still alive, but turns out to be The Mumbling Man, who Mary poisons before he can tell his story coherently.  Under cross-examination, Mary mumbles almost as well as he does.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you a man who has joined the ranks of Hollywood turfmen, and bought himself a racehorse, Jack Benny!"

BUCK BENNY-STYLE INTRO:  "Now, I will play the part of Police Captain O'Benny, as brave a bluecoat as ever wore bulletproof undies."

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Andy Devine, Sam Hearn

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Cliff Nazarro

NOTE:  Jack's racehorse is named "Buck Benny".  We won't hear about it again after this episode.

NOTE:  In trying to show a picture of his own racehorse, Jack shows the others a photo of Man o' War, a famous racehorse that won 20 of 21 races between 1919 and 1920.

NOTE:  Jack comments that Kenny always gets girlfriends and picks fights with them.  There hasn't been much reference to this before. 

NOTE:  Jack comments that the play is their "Annual" murder mystery.  Who knew that there was some conscious decision to limit them this way?  This has never been mentioned before.

NOTE:  A rare bit of continuity.  Usually Shleperman turns up in a new job that has no relation to the last one we saw.  This time they carry on with the idea that Shlep bought a farm from Andy.

NOTE:  Detective dramas starring Jack as "Captain O'Benny" are a recurring feature over the years. 

NOTEThey don't mention it, but the theme song for the play is "I Double Dare You".  Somebody must have liked that number, considering that they've opened the program with it twice this year.

NOTE:  In the play, Kenny has a counterfeit dollar that features Carol Lombard sitting on the Eagle.  A lot of Carol Lombard references this season, someone must have liked her too.

NOTE:  The Knocking Man does a non-knocking role on the Police Radio.  Considering that this actor actually does a lot of incidental roles other than The Knocking Man, I really should try to figure out his name, but somehow just calling him "The Knocking Man" is more fun.

NOTE:  The Closing Commercial plugs Jell-O Freezing Mix, a homemade ice cream that they plug occasionally, and which you make by adding milk and cream.  The current flavors are Chocolate, Maple Walnut, Vanilla, Strawberry, Tutti-Frutti and Orange Pineapple.


Don:  "Oh, Jack!  Jack, pardon me for interrupting, but I just noticed that your shoelace is untied.

Jack:  "My shoelace?  Oh, so it is. Thanks Don, excuse me for a minute, folks.

Don:  "Ladies and gentleman, while jack is bending down to tie his shoelace, why don't you skip out and buy yourselves a package of Jell-O?

Jack:  "Oh, so that's your little trick, huh?"

Don:  "It comes in six delicious flavors, Strawberry, Raspberry, Cherry, Orange, Lemon and Lime."

Jack:  "Ah folks, what other show starts on a shoestring and ends up with a plug?"

(Jell-O commercials haven't been very obtrusive lately.  During the Chevrolet Program, the announcer would frequently do "Word Association Commercials", in which he would pick up on a stray word of dialogue, and interrupt the program to turn that word into a product placement.  These became quite obtrusive after a while, and were toned down considerably when the Jell-O Program started.  This marks the beginning of an attempt to try to re-introduce the "Word Association" Commercials in a more humorous and less annoying way.  We'll see more of these as time goes on.  Eventually, they will reach a situation where the Word Association joke is pre-scripted by Jack, and Don resists doing them on the grounds that the pun is too bad to use.  A typical example:  Jack says the words "Bing Crosby", and Don has to be coaxed into saying his line, "Ladies and gentlemen, the next time you Crosby the street to your neighborhood grocer, be sure to Bing home a package of Jell-O."  One entire episode will revolve around Don's refusal to do the commercial as written and repeatedly walking out.)


Don:  "Calling all cars.  Calling all cars.  Go to your nearest grocer and ask for a package of Jell-O.  That is all."

Jack:  "Well, I see our Police Department finally got a sponsor!"

FATE OF MRS. KLUNKENBUSH'S HUSBANDS:  Mary has had 8 husbands in 4 years, all of whom died.  One was a big game hunter, shot on a hunt.  Her second was shot by an arrow.  The third one she slapped on the back while he was leaning out of a Penthouse window.

JOKE:  (Jack discusses his racehorse)

Don:  "Crosby has an enormous stable.  There's plenty of room there for your horse."

Jack:  "All right then, he wanted too much money.  I wouldn't pay him $80 a week to board my horse if he sang it to sleep every night."

JOKE:  (Jack discusses his racehorse)

Jack:  "You won't be so smart when he wins the Irish Sweepstakes!"

Don:  "Have you got a trainer for him, Jack?"

Jack:  "A trainer?  No, I just bought him a rowing machine.  That'll keep him in shape all right."

Phil:  "A rowing machine?  Well, that settles it.  You don't know any more about horses than I know about music."

JOKE:  (Jack discusses his racehorse)

Jack:  "I don't know anything about horses, eh?  I used to be a trout!"

Phil:  "A trout?"

Jack:  "Yes, a trout, and I gave out plenty of good tips, believe me."

Phil:  "You're a fine person.  How many legs has a horse got?:

Jack:  "A horse has four legs, smarty?"

Phil:  "How do you know?

Jack:  "I bought him a blanket with two pair of pants, and shut up!"

JOKE:  (Jack discusses his racehorse)

Mary:  "Jack knows more about horses than the both of you put together."

Jack:  "Yeah."

Mary:  "He even tried to get Lady Godiva for a jockey."

Jack:  "I did not!"

Mary:  "Then why did you put blinkers on the horse?"


Jack:  "Gee, I never saw a kid like you.  Always getting a new girlfriend, then picking a fight with her.  What's the matter with you?"

Kenny:  "Oh,  I don't know, I guess I'm just a gorilla."

Jack:  "Kenny, you're a simian, but not quite a gorilla."

JOKE:  (Jack introduces the play)

Jack:  "So now we present a deep, dark mystery entitled "Murder in the Library", or "Book Marks the Spot".  Ha, ha, ha, isn't that clever, folks?  And I thought of that all by myself."

Mary:  "You laughed all by yourself too."

JOKE:  (Andy and Shlep argue how good a farmer Shlep is)

Shleperman:  "Is that so?   I'm a good farmer."

Andy:  "A fine farmer, he bends over in front of goats."

JOKE:  (Jack tries to board his horse with Shleperman)

Jack:  "Say, how much are you guys going to charge me?"

Shleperman:  "Don't worry about it, Jacky boy.  If he wins the Kentucky Doiby, you'll break even."

FORGOTTEN HUMOR:  (In the play)

Phil:  "Was that the phone, Cap?"

Jack:  "It ain't a Swiss vaudeville act."

(No idea what this means.  It got a laugh, but the audience might have been bluffing)

JOKE:  (Jack answers the phone at the police station)

Jack:  "You say your wife ran away 8 months ago?  Well, why didn't you report it sooner?  Oh, you wanted to give her a good start.  What?  Oh, don't worry, I won't rush.  Goodbye."


Jack:  "Hey, fellas, what do you know?  We've got a murder!"

Police:  "Hurray!  We've got a mur-der, we've got a mur-der!"


Phil:  "You know the prisoner in Cell 21 that sent his suit out to be pressed?

Jack:  "Yes?"

Phil:  "Well, he was in it!"

Jack:  "All right.  Hang out the Vacancy sign and don't annoy me!"


Jack:  "It must be Mrs. Klunkenbush on Park Avenue.  She married her eighth husband two months ago, and he's about due for his Lead Anniversary."


Don:  "We think Mr. Klunkenbush has been murdered."

Jack:  "What makes you think so?"

Don:  "Well, he's in the library reading a book and he hasn't turned a page in three days."


EPISODE 34.  [Lost]


35.    05/29/38     The Adventures of Tom Saywer Part 2     (30:27)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:  The orchestra opens with "Everything's In Rhythm With My Heart". 

Jack is missing, off in a side studio rehearsing for a scene from "Artists and Models Abroad", with Rochester reading Joan Bennett's part.  As the others eavesdrop, neither Jack nor Rochester really seems to have their heart in it.  They discuss a stunt in which Jack has to jump over a wall.  The orchestra plays "You Couldn't Be Cuter", from "The Joy of Living".  Jack introduces the play.  Andy drops in to play Huckleberry Finn.  He and Jack discuss laws Andy has passed in Van Nuys, now that he's the Mayor (such as a curfew for bulls).  Don has been named Chief of Police, and reduced crime by passing Jell-O related laws.  Jack tells Kenny to sing, but The Knocking Man drops by for his quip first.  Kenny sings "Silver on the Sage" from "The Texan", and the play begins.

PLAY:  "Tom Sawyer, Part 2".  The entire play is a schoolroom scene in which Jack, as the teacher asks Trivial Pursuit-style questions to his pupils while Tom plays hooky. 

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack and Rochester's rehearsal scene, while technically something that happens "on the program" could be considered a sitcom scene.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, as is customary every Sunday at this time, we bring you a man who, uh... who, uh... Uh, say Phil, where's Jack?"

Phil:  "I don't know, I didn't see him."

Kenny:  "He came in with Rochester a few minutes ago.  I think they're in the little studio next door."

Mary:  "Yes, he's in there rehearsing a scene for his new picture.  And he's got Rochester reading Joan Bennett's part."

RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Cliff Nazarro, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  Apparently Jack played Tom Sawyer in the missing Part 1.  At the last minute, Jack agrees to take on a double role this time, as Mr. Dobbins the schoolteacher.  In the end, Tom has exactly one line in this play.  Are we really supposed to believe that that's all Jack had originally intended to give himself?

NOTE:  This episode marks the first mention that Andy Devine is the mayor of Van Nuys, California.  In real life, Andy served as Honorary Mayor from 1938 to 1957, when he moved to Newport Beach.

NOTE:  Jack mentions that Kenny's song was written by Robin and Rainger, the two boys who wrote "Love in Bloom" and "Thanks For The Memories" (for some reason, he does NOT mention "I Don't Want to Make History", which he mangled for them on 6/7/36), and who have appeared on the program twice previously.  Kenny claims that Robin and Rainger asked him not to tell Jack that the song was theirs.

NOTE:  The Mumbling Man is asked to name the countries of Europe.  Czechoslovakia is one of the few that he doesn't have a problem with.

NOTE:  Don's law enforcement program involves signs saying to wait for the big red lights to change, with prisoners sentenced to six delicious days in jail on Bread and Jell-O.

NOTE:  Jerome Kern gets a credit at the end for writing "You Couldn't Be Cuter".


Rochester:  "I've been waiting forever, Conrad.  You're the answer to a madman's prayer."

Jack:  "That's Maiden's prayer!!"

JOKE:  (Jack rehearses the scene with Rochester playing Joan's Bennett's part)

Jack:  "I can't be very romantic working off Rochester."

Rochester:  "You cramp my style, too."

JOKE:  (Jack discusses the movie's problem scene).

Jack:  "Let's not get involved in this.  If the worst comes to the worst, they can shoot me out of a cannon."

Phil:  "Out of a cannon?"

Jack:  "Yes."

Mary:  "If they had a cannon at Paramount, they'd have shot you a long time ago."


Kenny:  "Say, Jack?"

Jack:  "What, Kenny?"

Kenny:  "When a big director kicks you, does he say "Action" first?"

Jack:  "No Kenny, it comes as a pleasant surprise!"


Jack:  "Say Andy, have you made any new appointments since you've been elected mayor?"

Andy:  "Yes Buck, I made my Pa the head of the Department of Sanitation."

Jack:  "You did?  Well, what was his first move?"

Andy:  "He took a bath."

JOKE:  (In the play, Jack calls the roll at school)

Jack:  "Scarlet O'Hara?"

Scarlet:  "Here."

Jack:  "Scarlet NO'Hara."

Knocking Man:  "Right here, teacher."

Jack:   "Imagine, in the third grade, and already he's in the market for a toupee.  How old are you, young man?"

Knocking Man:  "Seven, going on 35."

JOKE:  (Jack quizzes his pupils)

Jack:  "Now Sydney, tell me.  What great invention is Eli Whitney known for?"

Phil: "The cotton gin."

Jack:  "The cotton gin, that's very good."

Phil:  "It's even better without the cotton."

RACIAL HUMOR:  (Jack quizzes his pupils)

Jack:  "Now, Rochester."

Rochester:  "Yes, boss."

Jack:  "Can you name the Seven Wonders of the World?"

Rochester:  "Yes sir!"

Jack:  "What are they?"

Rochester:  "The Sphinx, the Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens, and four pork chops!"

Jack:  "Now Rochester, pork chops are not included in the Seven Wonders of the world."

Rochester:  "I guess you've never been in Harlem Geography."

JOKE:  (Jack quizzes his pupils)

Jack:  "Huckleberry Finn, stand up."

Andy:  "Yes, Teacher."

Jack:  "Tell me, what is the capital of California?"

Andy:  "Van Nuys!"

Jack:  "It is not!  Stop plugging your hometown!  Sydney Sawyer, what is the capital  of the United States?"

Phil:  "Waukegan."

Jack:  "Right."

JOKE:  (Jack quizzes his pupils)

Jack:  "We'll now take up zoology.  Huckleberry Finn, what animal is it that crawls around like a lizard, has red eyes, a long pointed nose, and a yellow streak down its back?"

Andy:  "Fred Allen."

Jack:  "Right!"

JOKE:  (Jack is playing a double role as both Tom and the teacher)

Kenny:  "There [Tom Sawyer] goes through the window!"

Jack:  "And here I go after him!  I'll catch me!  The little Scalawag!"


36.    06/05/38             The Adventures of Tom Saywer Part 3     (30:20)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "I've Got a Heart Full of Music" from "Cowboy in Brooklyn".  As the show opens, Jack is on the phone, arguing with Paramount, who wants him to do a scene hanging upside down.  Jack threatens to go to Mr. Zucker.  Don informs him that the program has started, and gives Jack a late introduction.  Jack explains that in his next movie, he's supposed to hang upside down from a window and propose to Joan Bennett.  Mr. Zucker calls from Paramount.  Jack refuses to do the scene, but makes a lunch date to discuss it.  The orchestra plays "Jungle Love".  Kenny comes in and discusses how his girlfriend's mother lost her glasses (with a little help, know what I mean, nudge, nudge).  Jack starts to cast the play, but Mr. Winkler, Joan Bennett's manager, calls to take umbrage over the fact that Jack called himself the star of the picture.  Don makes his usual pitch for Jack to insert a Jell-O plug into his movie, even though Jell-O hasn't bought sponsorship.  Jack argues with Paramount some more about doing the Upside-down scene.  The others don't think Jack should cross Paramount, but he's adamant.  Kenny sings "Let's Sail to Dreamland", and dedicates it to the US Navy.  The play begins.

PLAY:  "Tom Sawyer, Part 3".  Tom goes on a picnic, and works his way up to kissing Becky Thatcher before they wander into an Indian cave, where they get another telegram from Paramount about the upside down scene.


Don:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we bring you that happy-go-lucky fellow, that carefree comedian, that bubbling..."

Jack (grouchily):  "All right, all right, that's enough!  Jell-O again, this is Jack Benny talking!"


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Pinto Colvig, Verna Felton, Blanche Stewart

NOTE:  Again, the opening commercial stresses how there's only one Jell-O, and if you hear any other gelatin dessert called Jell-O, that's incorrect.  They must have been afraid of losing their trademark, as happened to trademarks like Aspirin, Touch-Tone, Videotape, Yo-Yo and Zipper when those names became too genericized.

NOTE:  I could have sworn I heard the actor who later become Jack's boarder, Mr. Billingsley, in the play.  I must eventually do a little more research into who some of the minor actors were.  The Knocking Man shows up too, playing an echo, so he's branching out.  Actually, Verna Felton, Dennis Day's future mother shows up in the play too, but we're getting ahead of ourselves here.

NOTE:  There was another early toupee joke in here somewhere.  It wasn't particularly funny, but shows that they're starting to think in this direction.


Jack:  "I had to give up reading lines with Rochester."

Phil:  "Why?"

Jack:  "Well, we were commencing to sound like Amos & Andy."


Mary:  "You're no more star than a $3 sapphire!"

(A reference to the then-famous Star of India sapphire.  Star of India jokes are pretty darn rare, but I did hear one once on "Get Smart", that ran along the lines of "Leadside even stole the Star of India."  "He stole the Star of India??" "Well, he kidnapped Sabu.", a reference to the also-then-famous actor Sabu Dastagir.)

NOTE:  During the play, there's a reference to needing a can opener to open a can of beer.  It makes you wonder, when was the pop top invented, anyway?  According to this page, it was 1959.  Who knew?

NOTE:  A couple of times throughout the episode, Jack drops the name of "Artists & Models" Abroad director, Mitch Leisen.

JOKE:  (Jack discusses the stunts he has to do in the movie)

Jack:  "I have to go through all sorts of physical contortions.  I have to jump over walls, fall down flights of steps, and worst of all, hang by my heels out of a window!"

Don:  "Gee whiz, Jack, you ought to have a double for those scenes.  You know, a stuntman to take your place."

Jack:  "That's what I told Paramount, but they claim it's too dangerous!"

JOKE:  (They discuss the movie some more)

Jack:  "Well. anyway Don, I rehearsed that scene four hours yesterday and believe me, I was all in."

Mary:  "Tell them what happened, Jack?"

Jack:  "Oh, it wasn't that important."

Phil:  "What was it, Mary?"

Mary:  "Well, Jack was hanging by his heels, upside down, talking to Joan Bennett. 

Jack:  "Well, sure I was, that's what I was supposed to be."

Mary:  "Was your toupee supposed to fall off too?

Jack:  "Well, that was just an accident."

Phil:  "No kidding, Mary, did that really happen?"

Mary:  "Yes.  Jack's toupee fell off and landed right on Joan Bennett's head?

Don:  "It did?"

Mary:  "Yes, she thought it was a spider and fainted."


Jack:  Look Mr. Zukor, all I said was I will not play that scene.  Absolutely not!  But I do want to make pictures, gee, I even went on a diet!"

Mary:  "If you don't shut up, you'll stay on it."


Jack:  "I tell you, fellows, some day I'm going to make a real picture, and handle the whole thing myself.  I'll be the star, the writer, the director and the producer."

Mary:  "You'll be the audience, too."


Jack:  "Yes sir, that was Phil Harris and His Orchestra playing "Jungle Love", from the picture of the same name.  And Phil, that was very realistic.  I don't know, I could just smell the jungle."

Phil:  "You could?"

Jack:  "Yes, I could smell the music too."

JOKE:  (The discuss Kenny's vacation)

Jack:  "Say Kenny, did you do any fishing while you were up there?"

Kenny:  "Yeah.  And a funny thing, Jack.  Everybody around me was catching trout and bass, but all I got was a barracuda."

Jack:  "Kenny, a barracuda is a salt-water fish!  What was he doing in Lake Arrowhead?"

Kenny:  "I only catch 'em, I don't explain 'em."

Jack:  "Some fisherman!  You couldn't catch a herring in a delicatessen if you used Shleperman for bait!"

JOKE:  (Jack claims to be a movie star)

Mary:  Star, star!  You're no more star than a $3 sapphire!"

Jack:  "Is that so?  Well, let me ask you something.  When my picture comes out, what do you see on the marquee in front of the theater?"

Mary:  "Jack Benny and free dishes."

Jack:  "Well, if you can see me and pick up a soup tureen for the same price, I suppose that's bad!!"


Jack, on phone:  "But... But Mr. Winkler!  But... But... but-but... but..."

Mary:  "Shut up, Jack, you sound like a motorboat."

(Over the years, this will become an occasional running gag, where Jack, on the phone, tries to get a word in with whoever he's talking to, but is reduced to a series of "Buts".  This is the first, and the funniest example of this joke.  When I first heard this episode a few years ago, I actually scribbled this joke down to make sure I remembered it, but forgot to scribble down what episode it was from, making it impossible to find again.  Oh well, I've got it now.)

JOKE:  (Don suggests an improvement for Jack's dialogue with Joan Bennett).

Don:  "I love you, Joan, because you're beautiful, and I love Jell-O because it has six delicious flavors!"

(Next time you're on a date, try this line on your girl and see how it works)

JOKE:  (Don still wants a Jell-O plug in the movie).

Don:  "Take that scene where you're hanging out of the window upside down."

Jack:  "What about it?"

Don:  "Well, couldn't you have a few boxes of Jell-O fall out of your pocket?"

Jack:  "Look Don, that scene is not going to be in the picture!  That's what I've been fighting about, I'm not going to hang out of a window!"

Kenny:  "Is that what they want you to do, Jack?"

Jack:  "Yes, and I'm not a chimpanzee.  That I know!"

Kenny:  "Does Paramount know?"

(Actually, having boxes of Jell-O fall out of Jack's pocket in a movie would have been a pretty funny in-joke).


Jack:  "I'm not telling them what to do, Phil, but I'll be darned if I'll play a love scene upside down.  The blood will rush to my head, and I'll forget my lines."

Mary:  "If you haven't got any more lines than you have blood, don't worry."

(This is one of the oddest running gags in Benny history:  The Anemia joke.  If you recall, they started a whole barrage of them last season, as part of the Benny/Allen feud.  Phil Harris's mother forced a spoonful of cod liver oil on Jack on 2/7/37, to treat his anemia, but this wasn't the end of the matter.  It still crops up from time to time.)


37.    06/12/38            ARTISTS AND MODELS ABROAD     (27:38)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "I'm Taking a Fancy To You" from "Old Chicago", and the show immediately transitions to a sitcom scene at Paramount.

SITUATION COMEDY:  Jack and Rochester are in Jack's dressing room at Paramount.  Jack has caved in and agreed to do the Hanging-Upside-Down scene.  Jack's gang comes by hoping to see Joan Bennett.  Jack tunes in the program to hear Kenny sing.  Kenny, on the program, sings an unidentified song (Don may identify it at program's end, but I couldn't hear it).  Kenny drops by afterwards to watch Jack rehearse.  Joan "Liz Stoddard" Bennett herself comes in, and she meets the gang.  Jack and Joan rehearse until the Knocking Man comes by to say that she's wanted on the set.  The orchestra plays an unidentified number (possibly "Bless My Heart" from "Coconut Grove").  They show up on set, and meet Mr. Zukor, who mistakes Jack for Bing.  Joan has a private conversation with director Mitch Leisen to tell him that Jack can't play love scenes, and offers to chip in to hire Clark Gable.  Jack and Joan rehearse the (Pineapple) Upside-Down Scene again.  Don repeats his plea to give Jell-O a free plug in the movie. 

PLAY:  None, the entire episode is a sitcom.

SPECIAL GUEST STARS:  Joan Bennett, Mitch Leisen


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Ed Beloin, Bill Morrow

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, we take you to Jack Benny's Dressing Room at the Paramount Studio.  It's Jack's first day in his new picture. Take it away, Paramount!"

ROCHESTER SINGS:  The Rochmeister sings a few bars in the opening scene.

NOTE:  Phil's enthusiastic moniker for Jack is still "Jack, old boy!"  When is it going to change to Jackson??

NOTE:  Jack mentions that his dressing room was once used by Carol Lombard.  Have I mentioned that we're getting a lot of Carol Lombard references lately?

NOTE:  Adolph Zukor was the real-life head of Paramount, who died in 1976, at the age of 103.  However, he is voiced by an actor in this episode.  On the other hand, Director Mitch Leisen really does play himself.

JOKE:  (Jack comments on Rochester's singing)

Jack:  "I can't concentrate with all that noise going on!  You know, your voice is nothing to write home about."

Rochester:  "Even if it was, I couldn't."

RACIAL HUMOR:  (Jack caves in and agrees to the Pineapple Upside-Down Scene)

Jack:  "I wasn't going to do it at first but they finally talked me into it."

Rochester:  "I knew they would.  You've got about as much willpower as me in a chicken coup!"

ANALYSIS:  Usually I'm not overly sensitive about such things.  If a joke is legitimately funny, I'll go to bat for it even if it is a little politically incorrect.  With that in mind, I'd like to go on record as saying that this joke just isn't funny.  Not because it's offensive, but because it's just plain not funny.  The idea behind it is sound enough.  Having a trait that a character is identified with is often funny because you can allude to that trait indirectly and have people know what you're getting at without coming right out and saying it, thus inducing hilarity.  But that really only works when the trait in question is itself funny in some way.  Phil's drinking or illiteracy, or Jack's age, cheapness or toupee are funny traits.  So if can find a way to allude to them indirectly, that's funny too.  But Rochester liking chicken, regardless of whether we're talking about black people in general, or Rochester individually just isn't funny. 

Okay, if it isn't funny, and the reason it's not funny has nothing to do with political correctness, then why isn't it funny?  Garfield liking lasagna is funny, right?  Yeah, that is funny (or was 30 years ago), but the reason it is, is because lasagna is a food not generally associated with cats.  Scooby-Doo liking Scooby Snacks (a dog treat) is funny, but half the joke there is that Shaggy likes them just as much.  In an unpublished comedy novel of mine, there's a hulking, Bluto-esque character who has a strange affinity for hamhocks.  That's no different from liking chicken, is it?  Well yeah, it is because the guy is also very overweight and the hamhocks are a part of a whole series of jokes on the theme (he gets paid in them, thinks lard is one of the four food groups, et cetera).  In the Asterix series, Obelix is virtually addicted to wild boar, very much the same way Don Wilson is addicted to Jell-O and gets a lot of laughs in the same kind of way.  But the difference is that Obelix's fascination with the dish is a major part of his character, cultivated through long repetition to the point that you know it's near and dear to his heart.  With Rochester in this case, it's just a stray joke thrown in out of the blue.  There's no reason given for why Obelix loves boar, he just does.  There is a reason why Don loves Jell-O, but we try not to think about it.  The real reason is that he's paid to shill for it, but we suspend disbelief and pretend that he does it out of sheer love.  Rochester likes chicken because he's black.  Eh.  It's just not funny.

It COULD be made funny, perhaps.  It might be funny if Rochester loved it for no obvious reason.  Especially if Jack were always on the verge of asking him, and then forgetting to do so (they did something similar with Sam Hearn's "Rube from Calabasas" character in the 1950's).  Or it could be funny if Rochester loved a counter-stereotypical food, like matzo balls.  There are actually some pretty funny jokes throughout the series about Rochester's love of gin, and predilection for spiking the punch at parties.  (I seem to remember a Mary line from the 50's along the lines of "The last time I tried Rochester's punch, the next thing I knew I was playing halfback in the Rose Bowl game.")  It would even be possible to write funny jokes about chicken.  Say, a series of jokes about Rochester wanting to avoid it precisely because it's stereotypical, but failing because, stereotypical or not, he just likes it that much.  That would be funny.

The upshot of all this is that in theory it's possible to write funny jokes about Rochester and chicken.  But this isn't one of them.  There are very few jokes along these lines even in these early shows.  After the war, they consciously eliminated jokes like this completely.  They didn't lose anything.

JOKE:  (When Jack does the Pineapple Upside-Down Scene, he is unrecognizable on camera).

Jack, on phone:  "Now listen, I agreed to play that crazy window scene, but I didn't know my coat was going to hang down over my face!  How will people know it's me?  By my feet?  Listen Mr. Hornblow, all feet look alike!  Oh.  Well, you're just saying that to be nice."


Jack: "Rochester, I told you Miss Bennett would be here soon, now where's my grey suit?"

Rochester:  "Here's the pants, Boss, I just pressed 'em!"

Jack:  "Thanks... Pressed them?  Why, you burnt them!  Look at that spot right there!"

Rochester:  "Where?"

Jack:  "Right there on the seat."

Rochester:  "That is a little crisp, ain't it?"

(Another joke that's not that funny on paper, but gets a surprisingly big laugh.  There's probably an unwritten rule of comedy somewhere, stating that there's no telling how big a laugh any Pants Joke might get.)

JOKE:  (Don expresses his pleasure at meeting Joan Bennett).

Joan:  "Thank you, Mr. Wilson, and I always get a kick out of the way you talk about Jell-O.  You sound as though you're pretty crazy about it."

Don:  "Oh, really I am, Miss Bennett."

Jack:  "Oh, he IS!  He is!"

Don:  "When I say that Jell-O is the most tempting, delicious and economical dessert, that it tastes twice as good as ever before, I say it with every fiber of my being."

Jack:  "And that's a lot of fiber, Joan."

JOKE:  (Jack meets the head of Paramount)

Jack:  "Hello there, Mr. Zukor."

Adolph Zukor:  "Hello there, Bing."

Jack:  "Bing?  Imagine the head of the studio doesn't know me from Bing Crosby."

Mary:  "He does on payday."


Jack:  "Joan, do you think we'd better run through our love scene again before we shoot it?"

Joan:  "No Jack, you're as good now as you'll ever be."

JOKE:  (Jack and Joan do the scene)

Jack:  "Oh, Vivian.  Vivian."

Joan:  "Conrad, why are you hanging out of that window?"

Mitch Leisen:  "Hold it, hold it.  Now, Jack.  please don't rush blush while you're talking to Joan!  You're not supposed to be bashful in this scene."

Jack:  "But Mitch, I'm not blushing!"

Mitch Leisen:  "You are too, your face is all red!"

Jack:  "Well, naturally it's all red!  I'm hanging upside down and the blood is rushing to my head!"

Mitch Leisen:  "Well, stop it!"

JOKE:  (Director Mitch Leisen coaches Jack on how do to the Pineapple Upside-Down scene)

Mitch Leisen:  "Jack, remember, when you start proposing to Joan, be sure and get down on your knees!

Jack:  "But Mitch, how can I get down on my knees when I'm hanging out of a window?  I could fall down and break my neck!"

Mitch Leisen:  "What's the difference, it's only a rehearsal!"

JOKE:  (After the episode)

Mary:  "Say Jack?"

Jack:  "What is it, Mary?"

Mary:  "I was only kidding before, I think Joan is awfully cute."

Jack:  "Yeah."

Mary:  "And you know what?"

Jack:  "What?"

Mary:  "I'm going out to dinner with Mitch Leisen."

Jack:  "You are?  Well then, I'm going out with Joan.  Are you ready, Joan?"

Joan:  "Right here, Jack."

Jack:  "Well, come on, let's go."

Mary:  "I bet Mitch and I have a better time than you two."

Joan:  "So do I."


38.    06/19/38            BACK HOME IN INDIANA     (30:21)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Latin Quarter" from "Golddiggers in Paris" (again). 

Don and Jack discuss where Jack gets the energy he needs to make a movie and do the program simultaneously.  Don and Phil talk about how good Jack looks, until Jack talks about how much he encourages people to speak their real minds, at which point they break down and admit that he looks lousy.  ("Hmmm.")  This leads to a discussion about the efforts Don and Phil make to keeping up their respective appearance.  Kenny comes in claiming exhaustion, but sounding raring to go.  The discussion of everyone's appearance continues.  Somehow, Don turns the whole thing into a Jell-O commercial.  The Knocking Man drops by to get his lick in.  Kenny sings "Let Me Whisper".  They discuss how Kenny is leaving the country to play in "The Mikado", and will miss next week's program.   Everyone tries to figure out what a Mikado is, and discusses Kenny's ocean voyage.  Jack starts to introduce the play, but is interrupted by Andy dropping in to discuss his latest mayoring exploits.  Andy offers to do Kenny's song next week, but enthusiasm for this is predictably low.  The Knocking Man drops in for a follow-up quip.  The orchestra plays "What Do You Hear From the Mob in Scotland?", and Jack gets the play started.

PLAY:  "Back Home in Indiana" or "Clem Benny's Children" (What's the point of even having a subtitle if it isn't funny??)  In the play, Jack and Mary are an old cornpone couple whose children return home for a visit.

DON'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, this being our next to the last broadcast of the season, we bring you a little man who had a busy year, Jack Benny!"


MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin

VANITY ALERT:  In the opener, we learn that Don wears a chinstrap to bed, Phil wears curlers, Jack wears lace shorts, and gets mud packs.

CONTINUITY ALERT!:  In the opening portion of the show, Phil admits to wearing curlers to bed.  But on 12/20/36, Phil had taken umbrage to Jack giving him a curling iron for Christmas, saying that he didn't use them and that his hair was naturally curly.

NOTE:  The show was broadcast on Father's Day.

NOTE:  Kenny did indeed star in "The Mikado" (1939).  However, he says on the program that he's playing the leading role.  This does seem to be true, as he's listed first on imdb's page for this movie: However, the leading role is not the title role.  Kenny appears in the movie playing the part of Nanki-Poo.  Amazingly, this name was not mentioned on the broadcast.  For this movie, Kenny is flying to New York, and then sailing for England on Wednesday on the "Normandy. 

NOTE:  The play takes place in Number Two Breakfast, Indiana.

NAMES FOR THE BAND:  Curly Harris And His Fugitives From a Music Lesson.

NOTE:  Jell-O Ice Cream Mix is made by Walter Baker and Company.


Jack:  "I wasn't really talking to myself, I was just thinking out loud.  Don't you ever think out loud, Phil?"

Phil:  "Not around here, you'd fire me."


Mary:  "Tell them about that argument you had with your laundry man yesterday."

Jack:  "There was no argument!"

Phil:  "What was it, Mary?

Jack:  "Mary, if you tell them, I'll..."

Don:  "Come on Mary, what was the argument with the laundry man?"

Mary:  "Well, Jack was mad because they ripped the lace off his shorts."

Jack:  "That wasn't lace, they were just frayed at the bottom."

Mary:  "What were they 'fraid of?"

Jack:  "Well, just to think of answering that makes me ill."


Mary:  "You're so hammy your eyes look like two fried eggs."

Jack:  "Well, they're large, if that's what you mean.  I've often been told I have very big and expressive eyes.  In fact, I often use a soup bowl for an eye cup.  I really do."


Jack:  "No, really.  I do, I do."

Phil:  "I think you have lovely eyelashes too."

Jack:  "Thanks Phil, but they're nothing now.  You should have seen the long eyelashes I had when I was a kid."

Phil:  "How long were they?"

Jack:  "How long?  They used to call me Cowcatcher, that's how long they were.  Oh, I was the envy of the whole neighborhood."

Mary:  "You know Jack, it's  too bad you haven't got those long eyelashes now."

Jack:  "Why?"

Mary:  "You could pin 'em back over your head."


Jack:  "Yes, I could.  Of course every time I'd wink, I would tip my hat.  That's the trouble."

[more laughter, Jack finally loses it]

Jack:  "Isn't it a silly routine?  NO kidding!"


Jack:  "That's marvelous, The Mikado.  I know you'll be great in it, Kenny."

Kenny:  "I hope so.  Say Jack, what's a Mikado?"

Jack:  "That's fine, he's going to play The Mikado and don't know what it is."

Mary:  "Well, what is it?"

Jack:  "Well Mary, a Mikado is a sort of a... well, it's a kind of a..."

Kenny:  "Is it like an avocado?"

Jack:  "Not exactly, Kenny, a Mikado is a... well, it's a precious stone, I know that much."

Don:  "Jack, Jack, The Mikado is the title for the Emperor of Japan!"

Jack:  "That's it, that's it, the Emperor.  A man that wears precious stones."

Phil:  "You didn't say that at all!"

Mary:  You said a Mikado was a precious stone."

Jack:  "I did not, I said the Mikado was a man that wears precious stones in his crown.  And I'll leave it to anyone that wants to work on this program next year if I didn't!"


Jack:  "Nobody here has any trouble getting their money off of me.  I pay off, don't I, Mary?"

Mary:  "Yeah, like bank night in Glasgow."

(Who needs Scottish jokes any more, now that they've got cheapness built into Jack's character?)


Jack:  "What boat are you sailing on?"

Kenny:  "The Normandy."

Jack:  "Oh, the Normandy!  Say, I made a round trip on that boat last year.  It was very deluxe.  They even have neck rests on the portholes."


Jack:  "I'm afraid we can't use you [as a singer], Andy.  Your voice isn't that good."

Andy:  "Aww, now wait a minute, Buck.  Did you ever hear me hit High C?"

Jack:  "Only when you're talking!"

JOKE:  (In the play)

Jack:  Oh, by the way, Kenneth.  This is your brother, Phil."

Phil:  "How do you do?"

Kenny:  "Glad to know you."

Jack:  "You two ought to get together some time.  Come on, let's eat.  My stomach is emptier than a theater when Fred Allen was playing vaudeville."


39.    06/26/38        LAST SHOW OF THE SEASON     (30:20)

ORCHESTRA OPENING:   The orchestra opens with "Hurray For Hollywood" (again). 

Don and Jack discuss why The Mumbling Man did the intro.  Don says it was a surprise, but Jack wanted Don doing it for the season finale when they won't be together again for 13 weeks.  Everyone discusses vacation plans.  Jack plans on going to Spain, but doesn't realize that the Spanish Civil War is going on.  This shifts the topic to Jack's knowledge or lack thereof of current events.  Don tries to play peacemaker.  Mary writes a Farewell Poem.  The orchestra plays "You Couldn't Be Cuter" with a vocal by Phil.  Everyone discusses how Kenny is doing on the Normandy.  Mary is going out to the country this summer, while Don plans to write a book about Jell-0, and describes the plot in great detail.  Jack announces Mary's song, but is interrupted by The Knocking Man's obligatory entrance and exit.  Mary sings "says My Heart" from "Coconut Grove", with backup by Jack.  Andy drops in to talk about how he and Pa are going to "Honolula".  Since it's the season finale, Jack offers to have everyone over for a party.  Jack calls Rochester to have the cook, Swing-Hai prepare hors d'oeuvres.  Jack gets into an argument with Swing-Hai, who has already gone to bed, which results in Swing-Hai walking out.  Jack tries to get Rochester to do the cooking instead, then abandons the party idea in favor of inviting the whole cast to dinner at the Trocadero, his treat.  (HIS treat!???  What a shocker of a way to end the season!)

PLAY:  None.  Jack plans a party at home instead.

MUMBLING MAN'S INTRODUCTION:  "And now, ladies and gentlemen, for the last time this season, we bring you our Master of Ceremonies, a man who [string of gibberish], Jack Benny!"


RECURRING GUEST STARS:  Eddie Anderson, Andy Devine

MINOR ROLES:  Harry Baldwin, Cliff Nazarro, William Royale

MISSING CAST:  Kenny is missing this week, as he left early to film a movie in England.

CONTINUITY ALERT:  Don describes the Mumbling Man is a friend of his who works as a test pilot for revolving doors.  Neither one of them seem to remember ever hearing him before, or remember Jack hiring him for Don's 15th Anniversary Show.

PHIL SINGS:  Phil sings the orchestra's second number, "You Couldn't Be Cuter".

MARY SINGS:  "Says My Heart".

JACK SINGS:  Mary backs up Mary's number.

MARY'S POEM:  Fare Thee Well and Toodle-Oo (dedicated to the listeners)

We have worked so hard all year,

to bring you laughs and much good cheer.

And now we say goodbye to you,

so fare thee well and toodle-oo.


I hate to see this season close,

but when you gotta goes, you gotta goes.


But we'll be back to bring you joy,

so fare thee well and toodle-oy.


Phil Harris will be back with us,

and so will Kenny and Don and Gus.

But leaving you makes us feel awful,

so fare thee well, and toodle-waffle.


So once again, I say adieu,

I'll say it again, and nuts to you.

So once again, I say adieu,

to him and her and he and you.

Poems are made by fools like me,

but only Jack can make a dollar go further than anybody else.

So fare thee well, and Zazu Zazz.

NOTE:  Don's Jell-O book is to be entitled "How to Win Friends and Influence Sliced Bananas."  The plot involves a boy and girl who each want to buy the last box of Jell-0 in a grocery store, and get married so as to be able to split it.

NOTE:  The Knocking Man identifies himself as "The Bald Ranger".  Believe it or not, The Lone Ranger didn't originate with Clayton Moore.  He was on the radio as early as 1933.

NOTE:  After Mary's song, Jack slips up and says "Very good, Doll, that was swell."  'Doll' seems to have been Jack's real life nickname for Mary, but wasn't used on the show, as they aren't a married couple onscreen.  The only time we've heard it before was when he closed with the cryptic phrase "Goodnight Doll" on 3/27/38 (an episode which Mary didn't appear in).

NOTE:  Swing-Hai is more or less a clone of Jack's butler Hong, from 12/13/36, but with a bletter name. 

NOTE:  Jack closes out by thanking the Editors of Radio Guide again for the honors paid him and Don (1/30/38), as well as his writers, Bill Morrow and Ed Beloin, and Fred Allen for being such a heel.

NOTE:  This year's Jell-O summer show is a program called "Hobby Lobby" (no relation to the current chain store of the same name), hosted by Dave Elman (  Several minutes are devoted at the end of the program to introducing Elman to the audience.  Apparently the program already existed from somewhere else, because Elman claims that they've had guests who have taught fish to talk, dogs to walk, and roosters to roller skate.  Next Sunday they're having a lady who collects giraffes, a man who tap-dances with his tongue, and a man who blows square soap bubbles.  Don says that the show will feature a teacher who collects excuse notes, and a man who collects 90 lb. coins.

NOTE:  Radio comedians Bob & Ray had a recurring satirical sketch called "The Hobby Hut", which featured guests with unusual hobbies (collecting meat loaf in albums, collecting numbers from places that ask you to take a number, and so forth).  Something tells me we've just figured out what Bob & Ray's routine was based on.


Jack:  "That's the trouble with you, Phil.  All you think about is money.  Women and money."

Phil:  "There's no use thinking about women without it."


Jack:  "Well Don, I didn't know what to do this summer, so after thinking it over, I finally decided to go to Spain."

Don:  "Spain?  Why Jack, you don't want to go to Spain, there's a war going in."

Jack:  "There is?  Darn that travel agent."

Don:  "But Jack, you should have known about it.  It's been in the papers every day."

Jack:  "On the theatrical page?"

Don:  "No."

Jack:  "Well, it's a wonder Louella Parsons wouldn't say something about it in her column."

Phil:  "Say Jack, when you pick up a paper, don't you read anything but the theatrical page?"

Jack:  "Well yes, I..."

Phil:  "I should think that a fellow like you would try to keep up with current events and know what's going on in the world."

Jack:  "Well, I do.  I can tell you every move Dick Tracy has made in the last five years.  Don't tell me about current events."

Phil:  "Never mind the funny papers.  What about the front page?"

Jack:  "Well..."

Phil:  "Do you know anything about the adjournment of Congress?  Do you know anything about the China-Japanese War?"

Jack:  "Well..."

Phil:  "Do you know anything about the situation in Russia?"

Jack:  "Well..."

Phil:  "Do you know anything about the crisis in the Mediterranean?"

Jack:  "Wait till you get to the Louis-Schmeling fight!  Will I make a monkey out of you!  And listen, Phil, you're supposed to be a musician, an orchestra leader.  Let me ask you something.  Do you know what crescendo is?"

Phil:  "No."

Jack:  "Do you know what fortissimo is?"

Phil:  "No."

Jack:  "Do you know what pizzicato is?"

Phil:  "Yeah, it's green ice cream!"

Jack:  "That's pistachio!  Phil, you certainly are a musical genius.  How did you ever become the leader of this orchestra?"

Phil:  "I'm the only guy in the band who looks good from the back."

Jack:  "Well, that's a fine reason!

Phil:  "Oh, shut up!"

Jack:  "Don't tell me to shut up or you'll be reading the Help Wanted Orchestra ads."

Don:  "Now boys, boys, boys.  This is our last program, so act like gentlemen."

Jack:  "Oh yes, we shouldn't be fighting like this on our farewell broadcast.  I'm sorry, Phil."

Phil:  "Well, it's all my fault, Jack.  I shouldn't aggravate you."

Jack:  "Oh, well..."

Phil:  "After all, if you're illiterate, that's your business."


Jack:  "You know fellas, I just hate parting with people."

Don:  "You do?"

Mary:  "Yeah, Jack stayed in the 8th grade three years because he hated to say goodbye to the teacher."


Don, telling his story:  "So they get married, and ten years later, they have six delicious children!"

Jack:  "Six delicious children!"

Don:  "And you'll never guess their names!"

Jack:  "Listen Don, if I can't guess their names, I ought to be thrown off this program for life!"


Jack:  "Gee, everybody can do a number but me.  The only time I ever sing is in my bathtub."

Phil:  "You ought to sing more often."


Jack:  "Say Fellas.  You remember the last party we had at my house?"

Don:  "We sure had a great time."

Jack:  "Will you ever forget those Scotch and Sodas?"

Phil:  "Yeah, I never had such a small hangover in my life."

JOKE:  (Jack tells Rochester to have Swing-Hai get ready for their party)

Jack:  "Tell him to fix up a big platter of hors d'oeuvres first."

Rochester:  "Oar what?"

Jack:  "Hors d'oeuvres. 

Rochester:  "You know, those little things you put on crackers."

Jack:  "Oh, peanut butter!"

JOKE:  (Speaking of Rochester and gin...)

Jack:  "Tell Swing-Hai to get busy on the food, and you prepare a nice bowl of punch."

Rochester:  "Punch?  We ain't got nothin' to put in it."

Jack:  "Wait a minute.  What became of that quart of gin I bought last week?"

Rochester:  "What's that?"

Jack:  "You heard me.  That quart of gin, where is it?"

Rochester:  "I think we've got a bad connection."

Jack:  "Rochester, what became of that quart of gin?"

Rochester:  "That stuff can evaporate, you know."

Jack:  "Rochester, for the last time, what became of that bottle of gin?"

Rochester:  "Well, if you must know, I thought it was water and drank it."

Jack:  "That's fine, well get another bottle right away!"

Rochester:  "No thanks, I'm high enough now."

RACIAL HUMOR:  (Jack has the following argument with Swing-Hai):

Swing-Hai:  "Hello?  Hello, Mr. Blenny!  This is Swing-Hai!"

Jack:  "Now, listen Swing.  I'm bringing my gang over to the house, and I want you to prepare a real nice supper."

Swing-Hai:  "Oh, no, no, no.  Me no work tonight, me go to sleep early."

Jack:  "You won't go to sleep, you'll do exactly as I say!"

Swing-Hai:  "Slez you!"

Jack:  "Slez me!  ("Slez"!)  Now, go in the kitchen and get to work."

Swing-Hai:  [string of unintelligible Chinese]"

Jack:  "I KNOW that, but my friends are coming over!"

Swing-Hai:  [more unintelligible Chinese]"

Jack:  "I am not!  Now, that's just about enough.  Now, listen Swing-Hai, you're fired!"

Swing-Hai:  "Oklay, see you tomorrow."

Jack:  "Hey, wait a minute!  Put Rochester on the phone!... Darn that cook!  That's the gratitude after I taught him how to make Chop Suey."

Rochester:  "You wanted me, Boss?"

Jack:  "Yes, Rochester, it's up to you to fix a little supper for us.  So do the blest you can... the BEST you can."

Rochester:  "All right, I'll whip up something.  How many is there going to be?"

Jack:  "Well, there's five of us, and the orchestra, there will be about 25 altogether.  Is that clear?"


Jack:  "Rochester?  Rochester??  Hey, Rochester!!"

Rochester:  "I hung up!"



Pretty much any scene with Rochester in it. That guy has caught on so fast that you wonder how they ever got along without him. There are many more though, and perhaps I'll go back later and make a more detailed list. But it's an odd thing about this show. You can pick almost any show at random from this season and be entertained by it, but there's no one show that really stands out from the pack. Maybe later I'll go back and try to make a better Best Moments list, there are just too many contenders now.

When I think back on this season, the first things I think of are the mini-storyline about the Pineapple Upside-Down Scene (my name for it, the show never calls it that), and the Snow White play (even though I think that that's far from the funniest moment in the season).


Far too many to mention. Last year I tried to do a Top 10 and ended up with about 25. About 3/4 of the jokes transcribed above are candidates for Best Gags of the Season, and I'd be even less successful trying to narrow it down to a Top
10 this year than I was last year.


JACK BENNY: In this season, Jack's reputation as a cheapskate is forged. It's not as advanced as it later became, but it's built up to a point that the audience understands and expects it.

MARY LIVINGSTONE: Mary's role as Jack's female foil was completed last season. This season follows up on it, without changing anything. Mary's old shtick (reading crazy poems) is nearly gone, but she still does a couple now and then. Her new shtick (reading letters from Momma) is just starting, but hasn't really become a fixture of the show yet.

PHIL HARRIS: Just as Mary is Jack's main female foil, Phil is his primary male foil. Jokes about Phil's drunkenness and illiteracy, which were such a fixture for him later on are still few and far between. But he's still The Dixie Hipster, whose ego locks horns with Jacks' on a regular basis. Unlike the feud between Jack and Fred Allen, which never really dies, last season's feud between Jack and Phil is over with, but it's left a lasting rivalry between the two. For the most part they're friends. They can be expected to greet each other with a smile and a friendly word, but may then go on to lock horns at the drop of a hat. Phil is primarily the orchestra leader, but will occasionally jump in with a vocal number (not nearly often enough for my tastes, as Phil is quite a good singer).

KENNY BAKER: Kenny's character is essentially unchanged. From nearly his first appearance, his character as Jack's goofy kid tenor was almost fully developed, and there has been no need to change a winning formula as long as it keeps winning. This is a remarkable thing about the Benny program. Many shows do end up having to change a winning formula, simply because the audience eventually tires of it, and wants to see something new. The Benny Show very rarely had to do this, despite running for over 700 (surviving) episodes, simply because they developed characters that people never got tired of seeing.

DON WILSON: No major changes to Don's character, either. He's still the evangelical announcer, with a deep emotional attachment to Jell-O and its six delicious flavors. Don still takes the intellectual role when one is needed.

ANDY DEVINE: Andy was introduced as a Sheriff in the Buck Benny sketches of 1936-7. Since those have ended, he has no real role on the program. He turns up as a visitor, who just happens to always drop in for a visit when the program is in progress. When he does, he usually talks about how things are going on the farm with his Ma and Pa, but starting this year, Andy is billed as the Mayor of Van Nuys, which opens the door for a few political jokes. Andy's main drawing power, as always, is his scratchy voice. He doesn't even need jokes, since everything he says is funny.

ROCHESTER VAN JONES: The highlight of this season is the development of Rochester into a major character. Like Andy, he's got a voice that could get laughs just reading out of the phone book, but he's also got a much better character than Andy does. Jack and Rochester have a relationship much like Jeeves of Jeeves and Wooster, in which Jack is nominally the boss, but Rochester is the smarter of the two, and seems to have more real clout in running Jack's home than Jack does. Rochester, like Mary and Phil, is a foil for Jack. "Does he really need another?", you may ask. Yes, because Rochester is different than those other two. Rochester is a Working Class Hero. A blue-collar guy who tells off the boss and gets away with it. But not in a "Take This Job and Shove It" sort of way. Like Phil and Mary, Rochester makes Jack aware of his shortcomings, but while the other two rub his nose in it, Rochester has a kinder, gentler, almost apologetic way of doing it. Jack and Rochester have an affection for each other that comes through even when they're sparring with each other that makes almost all of their scenes together great ones.

SHLEPERMAN: Shlep is back. Last year he only appeared in the three episodes broadcast from New York. This year, Sam Hearn appears in nearly half the episodes and then disappears without a trace again. Shleperman last appears on 5/15/38, and is mentioned as late as 6/5/38, then nothing. Next season, when they remake "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", they'll have Andy in the Prince Charming role in place of Shleperman with no explanation offered. But this isn't the end for Sam Hearn on the Benny Show.

THE KNOCKING MAN: Harry Baldwin plays a number of incidental roles, but The Knocking Man is the only one that's on the audience's radar.

THE MUMBLING MAN: Cliff Nazarro's Mumbling Man character is a nice addition to the cast. As a one-joke pony, he has to be used sparingly, but when he shows up unexpectedly, he can be qu
ite funny.


Another excellent season. Not as groundbreaking or innovative as 1936-1937, but this season maintains the high standards set that year, and develops Rochester into a major character.