NOTES AND UPDATES
In an attempt to keep us all updated on all things Jack Benny, I am partially turning this notes and updates page into a "sort of" Jack Benny blog as well. This way I can write about many Benny-related items other than just news and updates about this website. I'll also be linking to some interesting Jack Benny things on the internet, that perhaps don't fit in on the permanent "links" page. I won't be linking to any pages with MP3 copies of Jack Benny radio shows though, mainly because I personally can't verify every download, and I certainly don't want to be responsible for anyone downloading a computer virus.
UPDATE---FEBRUARY 14, 2014
Finally, a very Happy 81st Anniversary of his 39th birthday to one Mr. Jack Benny, born on February 14, 1894.
I've been gradually (too gradually for my liking) uploading updates, revisions, corrections, etc, to the site over the last week.For quite a while I've been seriously considering a complete re-launching of this site (aka making a new web site) which would focus less specifically on the Benny radio program in the 1940s and more on the entirety of Jack Benny's radio career. This way, the season logs would be in chronological order (1930s, then 1940s, then 1950s) incorporating Graeme Cree's wonderful work on the Thirties and Fifties. We would keep all the articles, spotlights, etc. Any feedback/comments/criticism of this proposed idea would be very welcome.
UPDATE--OCTOBER 4, 2013
October 2013 marks the fifth anniversary of the Jack Benny in the 1940s site. There's been some fairly major upgrades on the site recently: I've finally managed to upload more of my notes for the 1939-1940 and 1945-1946 seasons, Graeme Cree has completed his detailed season logs for all of the programs broadcast during the 1930s, and he has also finished the season logs for the 1950-1951 and 1951-1952 seasons. More site upgrades/updates will be coming over the next few months.
Your Money or Your Life...
Well, this is a difficult update to write. After 19 years working for the same company, I was let go without any warning on Friday April 8, 2013. To say this was a bit of a shock is an understatement. We have a seven year old daughter and a daughter that just turned one year old on March 19, both of whom need medical insurance (as do myself and my wife). Right now we are focusing on job searching.
I apologize for the lack of site updates recently. Thanks very much again everyone for your patience.
Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special
Steven Thompson posted this link to the entire program "Jack Benny's Second Farewell Special", originally aired in 1974:
I'll be posting a brief article regarding Jack's late 1960s-early 1970s television special sometime soon. In the meantime, enjoy the above broadcast, which unfortunately turned out to be Jack's last.
We previously posted the link to Steven's blog; Steven's Facebook page can be found here:
Everyone visiting here should also check out Don Yowp's wonderful blog "Tralfaz". In addition to some great stuff about Warner Bros.and Hanna-Barbera cartoons, there is usually at least one Jack Benny-related post per week, such as this one at the link below, about the terrific Sara Berner. There's quite a bit of overlap between the Jack Benny show and the voice actors for Warner Brothers and Hanna-Barbera cartoons: not only the great Mel Blanc, of course, but also Bea Benaderet, Sara Berner, Arthur Q Bryan, Verna Felton, among others, all provided voices for numerous cartoons. Years after the Benny radio show had ended, Phil Harris worked with Walt Disney studios on the films The Jungle Book and Robin Hood. (And I'm sure all of you HB fans out there know where the name "Tralfaz" is from~). Check out his great blog, and tell him you saw it here~!
"JACK BENNY FIDDLES WITH THE CLASSICS"
In this post, the nice blog "The Shellackophile" (about 78-rpm records) spotlights the album "Jack Benny Fiddles With The Classics":
"A LOVE LETTER TO JACK BENNY"
Stephen Thompson's blog "The Booksteve Channel" takes a look at NBC's 1981 television special "A Love Letter to Jack Benny":
IRVING FEIN (JACK BENNY'S MANAGER) DIES AT AGE 101
This wonderful interview is a "must-see" for any Jack Benny (and George Burns) fan, covering such things as the Walking Man contest, Jack's radio personality versus his personality in real life, George Burns' love of Gracie Allen, and much more.
Irving Fein, who began managing Jack Benny's career in 1947, passed away on August 10, 2012 in West Hollywood at the age of 101.
Fein began as Jack's publicity and advertising director (in other words, a "real-life" version of the radio program's Steve Bradley character), eventually becoming the executive producer of Jack's television program (and after the cancellation of the regular show, the yearly television specials that Jack did until his death in 1974).
Several obituaries have noted that the Benny radio program was faltering in the Hooper ratings when Fein took over managing Jack, and the ratings then began to improve. After Fein began we see ratings-grabbing events such as the "I Can't Stand Jack Benny" contest, and the "Walking Man" contest on Truth or Consequences. Fein also managed the career of one of Jack's closest friends, George Burns. In 1977 Fein wrote the book "Jack Benny: An Intimate Biography", a fascinating look at his 28-year stint as Jack's manager and friend.
There are several obituaries of Irving Fein currently on the internet, but rather than link to some of them, I'd like to direct you to the following: a link to the "Archive of American Television" web site, featuring a terrific 3+ hour on-camera interview with Mr. Fein conducted in 1998:
JACK BENNY & WALTER MATTHAU MAKE-UP TESTS FOR "THE SUNSHINE BOYS"
This is just all types of awesome. 10 minutes of pre-production make-up tests (silent, unfortunately) of Jack and Walter Matthau for the film "The Sunshine Boys". Jack was originally supposed to co-star in the movie, but passed away before production...his part was taken by his long-time close friend George Burns.
"JACK BENNY AS MY COMFORT FOOD"
"It Was Eighty Years Ago Today..."
To paraphrase The Beatles.....May 2, 1932 marked the debut of a new radio show, "The Canada Dry Program", Jack Benny's first radio program as a host. The program aired at 9:30pm EST, originating from radio station WJZ in New York (which surprisingly has no affiliation with Jay-Z). As the May 2, 1932 New York Times listed in their radio listings:
9 :30-Olsen Orch. ; Ethel
Shutte, Songs; Jack Benny. Comedy
This initial "Canada Dry" cast included Jack, George Olsen and his orchestra, Ethel Shutte, Fran Frey, Bob Borger, and Bob Wright. Of course, the debut of this new show was not exactly a big event: Jack had made his first-ever radio appearance only two months earlier at 8:45pm on the March 29, 1932 Ed Sullivan show, and he was basically an unknown property (in radio, at least). The "Canada Dry" debut didn't even make the special "Today's Highlights" list in the Times radio listings. This program, however, was the start of an incredible 16 year relationship between Jack Benny and the NBC radio network. Although this 1932 "Canada Dry" show has little in common with any of the 1940-1949 Jack Benny shows covered here, as the first starring vehicle of perhaps the most famous radio comedian, it is definitely a historical "pop culture" event worth noting.
A NEW JACK BENNY FAN IS BORN
On a self-indulgent note, my wife and I were pleased to welcome our second child (and second daughter) and future Jack Benny fan Riley Grace Cairns on March 19th, 2012. Daughter and Mom are both doing well, and Riley is already placing her hand on her cheek Benny-style as if to say "Well!" Emily Elizabeth, now fast approaching 7 years of age, is very busy being a great big sister.
NEED HELP WITH A JACK BENNY/JUDY GARLAND "MYSTERY" SKETCH
I received an interesting e-mail from very knowledgeable Judy Garland radio collector/historian John Walther, from Hamburg Germany, concerning a "mystery" sketch he has featuring Jack Benny and Judy Garland. It's a reprisal of a sketch the two had done previously on episode # 72 of the AFRS (Armed Forces Radio Service) program "Mail Call" in January 1944. On that show, Jack calls Judy at the movie studio to say they are going to be appearing on an upcoming "Mail Call", and that he would like to rehearse their scene together; a love scene, such as she had done with Gene Kelly in Judy's 1942 movie "For Me and My Gal".
However, there is a second version of the sketch; it runs approx. 11 minutes. The 11 minutes is all Mr. Walther has of whatever show it was taken from. This sketch has the same premise as the above sketch, but in this version Jack says he wants to rehearse with Judy for their upcoming appearance on the Elgin program. It would appear to be from circa 1946, but according to my research/listening, I don't have Jack and Judy appearing together on either of the Elgin holiday programs that year, the Thanksgiving or Christmas shows.
If anyone has any answers or guesses where this second version of the sketch comes from, please e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Myself and Mr. Walther have been investigating this for a few months, and would love to have a resolution to our search~!
Thank you very much to my beautiful wife (and proof-reader) Melissa, and my equally beautiful daughters Emily Elizabeth and Riley Grace.
Also very special "thank yous" to Samuel Brylawski, Emmett D. Chisum, and Shannon Bowen Maier, for all of their considerable help with my research. This site literally wouldn't have bene possible without their assistance. Many thanks as well to the great old-time radio historian Jay Hickerson for his original privately printed Jack Benny episode list from way-back-when! I still treasure my copy (with my penciled-in notes) and it was a tremendous help when I was first starting out in Jack Benny "fandom".
And much thanks of course to our great web site contributor Graeme Cree for his wonderful work on Jack Benny in the 1930s and 1950s.
And to the dedicated fans of Old Time Radio; both prior to the internet and since: without their tireless efforts in the preservation, documentation, and recording of Old Time Radio programming, many of these programs would be just distant memories in books, instead of being listened to and enjoyed by generations to come.