IJBFC Chat - September 13, 2009

(Name of message originator in [] brackets at the beginning of each line)

[Brad from Georgia] The flu flies here...wish I could flee. Our college has a good number out with H1N1.

[steve :shimp:] Oh, I didn't even think of that. There could be a JB strain of the swine flu H1N39

[Laura Leff] Hi folks

[steve :shimp:] Hi Laura

[ed] hey ll

[Brad from Georgia] Hi, Laura!

[Laura Leff] Sorry...I was looking at a clock that I just discovered is slow

[Brad from Georgia] I was wondering if you chose tonights episode because of the flu.

[Brad from Georgia] Or maybe because Mrs. Bufforpington is in it!

[Laura Leff] Well, I chose it because we were talking about that in the last chat!

[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh how funny...I meant to look up who played the nurse, but forgot to do so!

[steve :shimp:] Elvia Allman certainly got around ... her credits must be a mile long

[Brad from Georgia] Elvia.

[Laura Leff] Yeah, that's what I thought.

[Brad from Georgia] And the singer on the radio...Blanche Stewart?

[Laura Leff] Knew it wasn't Iris Adrian

[Laura Leff] Is it? OK, I've just got to pull V2

[Brad from Georgia] I remember "My Heart Cries for You" because my aunt loved that song. She had a 78 rpm record of Dinah Shore singing it and wore it out.

[steve :shimp:] I haven't looked at the 39 Forever entry... didn't sound like Sara Berner either

[Brad from Georgia] Hang on, I've got the books here.

[steve :shimp:] I could get up off the couch but you all are doing it for me, heheheheh

[Brad from Georgia] Show was St. Paddy's day 1951?

[Laura Leff] Yeah, it's Blanche Stewart. Go figure!

[steve :shimp:] I am enjoying furniture for this chat, which I didn't have yet last month.

[steve :shimp:] I didn't realize Blanche Stewart continued on that late

[Brad from Georgia] Yep, Blanche. Just checked.

[steve :shimp:] Did she ever do any of the TV shows?

[Laura Leff] Steve - I was just looking that up...she continued until mid-1952. Thought the same thing.

[Laura Leff] Steve - Ask me that in a few months.   

[steve :shimp:] I'd be interested to see her perform.

[steve :shimp:] Oooh, is that a hint on volume 3  

[Laura Leff] Steve - I think she passed away about that time, which may be why she stopped doing the show.

[Laura Leff] Steve - Mneh...could be.

[steve :shimp:] Well, that kind of cramps your performing ability.

[ed] steve ouch

[steve :shimp:] (thinking of the Monty Python Marilyn Monroe skit)

[Brad from Georgia] LL-Told the others, but my next novel (still unpublished) won an award.. the SCBWI Work-In-Progress award for Literary Excellence. That's Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

[Laura Leff] Mazel tov! That's great!

[Brad from Georgia] "The Witch of Water Street." What gets me is that it's one I did under a pen name, Bailey Macdonald....

[steve :shimp:] Bailey would be a great name for a canoe.

[Laura Leff] FWIW, I've got cast lists up to 10/5/52 and she's not on them. So if she died in mid-1952, then I guess not.

[Laura Leff] It would be a great name for a Frank Capra character.

[Brad from Georgia] It's "Bailey" 'cuz that's gender-ambiguous, and "Macdonald" because Ross Macdonald, the mystery writer, encouraged me when I was first trying to write.

[Laura Leff] Thank you IMDB...she died July 25, 1952.

[Brad from Georgia] I have just been looking up "My Heart Cries for You." No wonder Jack was making fun of it! About ten people recorded it between January and March of '51. It was a big hit for Mitch Miller, of all people. Back in late '50.

[steve :shimp:] Hmm. Did she do anything on-screen with Jack?

[Laura Leff] Last Benny appearance: 3/23/52.

[Brad from Georgia] It was "The Little White Cloud that Cried" of its era....

[steve :shimp:] How did she die?

[Laura Leff] Looks like not...just four video credits and none of them Jack.

[Laura Leff] Doesn't say how she died. She was only 49.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Or Come On'a My House

[steve :shimp:] Too young.

[Laura Leff] Then again, I think that was mainly a hit for Rosie Clooney and no one else.

[Laura Leff] Too young and too talented...

User yhtapmys has entered this room.

[Laura Leff] Hi Yht!

[Brad from Georgia] Hiya yht!

[ed] yht hi

[yhtapmys] Hi Laura.

[Laura Leff] What other thoughts on tonight's show?

[steve :shimp:] greetings yht

[yhtapmys] And all.

[Brad from Georgia] Dennis was delightful. I laughed out loud at the Hadacol gag.

[steve :shimp:] Pacing seemed off at times...

[steve :shimp:] There was an unusually awkward exit for Frank Nelson

[Laura Leff] I clicked the link to listen to this show the other night and didn't look at the date, but you can tell just from the pacing and dynamic that this is pure golden-age Benny.

[steve :shimp:] the bit didn't have a strong finish and they just ... leave

[Laura Leff] Steve - Yeah, I noticed that.

[Laura Leff] It was two lines too long.

[steve :shimp:] Yep

[Brad from Georgia] I think I heard Don's corny "shamrock" gag once before on a very early Benny show.

[steve :shimp:] I would've loved to see Dennis doing the radio-station-changing singing

[Laura Leff] I think Jack tells it another time

[Laura Leff] Mel Blanc can speak real Spanish other than simply "Si"

[yhtapmys] I think Brad's right. It was on one of the pre-Jello ones.

[Brad from Georgia] I assume Mary was really still sick and not just having a case of microphone vapors

[Laura Leff] Brad - Hard to tell. Chicken and egg.

[Brad from Georgia] Yht--I think it was really early, back in the early to mid thirties, and yes, I think it might have been Jack.

[Laura Leff] Let's see if I can find "sham rock"...

[yhtapmys] Frank Black is coming to mind. This is going to bug me now.

[Brad from Georgia] Sportsmen had a nice funny bit. Their awful singing shows they were good sports.

[steve :shimp:] Maybe Harry Conn needed a buck that year ....

[Laura Leff] 3/17/35, but you wouldn't have heard that one because the show doesn't exist in audio

[Laura Leff] Looks like Mary told it that time...saying that her diamond ring is like the Irish national emblem because it's a sham rock.

[Brad from Georgia] I just looked at the book...I'd read it there! That's where I remembered it.

[steve :shimp:] Laura is now responsible for repressed false memory syndrome...

[Laura Leff] Oh thanks...

[steve :shimp:] Remember that time when we were all at that satanic sacrifice?

[Laura Leff] Oh yeah, that was hot.

[Brad from Georgia] Most people's memory gets worse as they get older. Mine is getting so much better I can recall all sorts of stuff that never happened.

[steve :shimp:]  

[ed] good one LL

[Brad from Georgia] "Les Miserables" is on TV right now with Michael Rennie as a skinny Jean Valjean and Long John Silver as Javert.

[Laura Leff] Just scanned V1 and 2...looks like those are the only hits.

[Laura Leff] A little scary that I was able to make that connection...

[steve :shimp:] How did Hadacol become a pop-culture gag? Was it just the sham-wow of its era, or something more specific I don't know about

[yhtapmys] The Day France Stood Still.

[Brad from Georgia] Hadacol was largely alcohol and became a huge seller during Prohibition.

[Brad from Georgia] It was medicine, yeah, that's the ticket....

[Laura Leff] I'd walk a mile for a Hadacol

[steve :shimp:] OK, that makes sense

[Laura Leff] Medicinal purposes

[steve :shimp:] I was wondering if it was a sponsor of some program as well

[Brad from Georgia] I can remember ads for Hadacol on radio when I was a kid. My uncle Neal said it was a better drink than most hair tonics.

[Laura Leff] And I'd think that much alcohol would slow you down, not speed you up.

[Laura Leff] Move over, Bay Rum.

[Laura Leff] Then again, look at Phil running through the parking lot to the other network...

[Laura Leff] (which he probably did during this show)

[steve :shimp:] I had a 80-something year old barber in Virginia who'd still slap Bay Rum on me. Loved it.

[Brad from Georgia] Hadacol had "a dozen health-giving vitamins," but it was about 30 proof....

[ed] there is a big article at www.sj-r.com a local story about "Guiding Light' i have my copy from today's paper

[Laura Leff] That's almost 3 proofs per vitamin...

[ed] i am in the springfield mentionee

[Laura Leff] Ed - Were you on "Guiding Light"?

[ed] Not!!!

[ed] no i meant to say iam not in their springfield bad typewriter

[Laura Leff] Was Guiding Light sponsored by Hadacol?

[steve :shimp:] Pretty amazing that a show that started five years after Jack did on radio lasted so long!

[Brad from Georgia] "The Guiding Light" started out when the new minister of Springfield put a candle in the window so the spiritually troubled could find their way to the church.

[ed] no procter and gamble

[steve :shimp:] Can't say I ever watched it though.

[Brad from Georgia] Imagine his disgust when Flanders showed up.

[Laura Leff] Aha...never knew that, Brad!

[yhtapmys] How did they show that on radio?  

[Laura Leff] We recently watched the first six episodes of Coronation Street. Sounds a little like that.

[ed] actually the show begins in the fictional town of five points near chicago

[Laura Leff] "I'm going to put a light in the window so that the spiritually troubled can find their way here to the church."

[Brad from Georgia] It had a long run on radio. How'd they show it? "I want people to know the church is here...I know...I'll put this lighted candle in the window. Oh, damn, there go the curtains.

[Laura Leff] (Sound effect of candlestick being put on shelf)

[ed] then to springfield like father knows best and the simpsons

[Brad from Georgia] You know about "The Edge of Night," don't you? It started out as a radio show, too.

[Laura Leff] After all, 'tis better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.

[ed] yes perry mason

[Brad from Georgia] Yup.

[Laura Leff] But 'tis better to not light one candle than to burn the place down...

[Brad from Georgia] Ah, memories...the religious show "Lamp Unto My Feet." I always wondered if it would blister my toes.

[Laura Leff] Edge of Night wasn't that long-running though, was it?

[ed] i will tape it friday and will put in the OTR tape collection

[Brad from Georgia] LL--Dunno. My mom always watched it when I was a nipper. Nipping Hadacol, nacherlly.

[ed] edge of night ABC &CBS was on i think until 1975

[Laura Leff] Sometimes it's hard to know whether I heard about something, even though it happened before I was born.

[Brad from Georgia] It was one of her programs.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Mental image of you with a baby bottle filled with Hadacol

[ed] imagination what radio is all about

[Laura Leff] So what else about tonight's show?

[Brad from Georgia] I mentioned my uncle Neal, who did have a drinking problem. But what I remember him for was he loved to set fire to truck tires in his back yard....

[Brad from Georgia] Tonight's show, tonight's show...nice little turn for Mr. Kitzel!

[Laura Leff] Any particular reason?

[Brad from Georgia] A green matzoh!

[steve :shimp:] one matzo ball

[Brad from Georgia] For the tire fires? He just liked to watch tires burn.

[ed] matzo matzo

[Laura Leff] So he was a pyro

[steve :shimp:] burning tires make for a nice air freshener

[steve :shimp:] ack

[Brad from Georgia] He was real redneck. When the tires burned, they'd leave big coils of rusty wire behind.

[Laura Leff] How one makes a matzo ball in the shape of a shamrock, I'll never know.

[Brad from Georgia] One day he told me, "Boy, go in th' yard an' clean up that tahr fahr wahr."

[ed] the same way you make a shamrock into a matzo

[Brad from Georgia] He got SO mad when I imitated him.

[Laura Leff] Brad - BUHHHHHHHHHHH

[Brad from Georgia] Anyway, a green matzoh for St. Paddy's day!

[steve :shimp:]  

[Brad from Georgia] I wondered--was the book Don was "reading" from a takeoff on a real book?

[Laura Leff] I guess Mrs. Shlepperman could cook as well as strip...

[Laura Leff] Brad - Considering the laughter from the band, the names had to be references to real people they knew, so I'd say it was invented.

[Laura Leff] Just a take-off on the romance novels of the day.

[Brad from Georgia] Don's "And he says he's 39!" gag was good, one of the good "age" gags of that period of the show.

[steve :shimp:] Wasn't there a reference to "Burt" -- I'm guessing Jack's secretary we learned about in the big photo puzzle?

[Brad from Georgia] Nice little call-back gag too about Don's causing the freeway tie-up.

[yhtapmys] Yeah, Steve, Burt and Ann.

[Laura Leff] Steve - Yeah...I didn't stop long enough to catch the names.

[Laura Leff] I'm trying to remember Bert's wife's name...

[steve :shimp:] Who might Ann refer to?

[Laura Leff] I don't know of anyone in Phil's band named Bert...

[steve :shimp:] Or, to whom might "Ann" refer?

[Brad from Georgia] Or whom might Ann prefer?

[Laura Leff] OK, now you've got me curious. I'm going to see if I can quickly grab one of Bert's letters that might have a reference to his wife.

[steve :shimp:] Don't ask me, this house is guaranteed.

[steve :shimp:] Or quarantined.

[yhtapmys] I agree with Laura, though. It sounds like an inside joke.


(some loss)


[Brad from Georgia] Written by Jack all by himself without his writers?

[Laura Leff] Just haven't looked at them in a while.

[steve :shimp:] The letters or the article?

[Laura Leff] Oh yeah, Jack wrote plenty of funny stuff on his own. I wish we had more of his dirty song lyric reworks.

[steve :shimp:] I like hearing bits from the letters Laura, so if you find bits, pass them along!

[Laura Leff] OK...scanning longer letters from Bert to Julius

[Brad from Georgia] I don't suppose there's any chance of our seeing Jack's song parodies in the Times....?

[steve :shimp:] Nice issue of the TIMES, btw, Laura

[steve :shimp:] As usual.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Alas no, for a couple reasons...

[Laura Leff] One because they're off-color, and I try to make sure we're running a "family friendly" show

[Laura Leff] (Notice that I was even trying to figure out how to relate Jack's arguing with the owner of the Sahara about his act...)

[Laura Leff] And also because most of what I have are in the Remley letters, and Joan's not OK with those being published.

[Brad from Georgia] Ah, well.

[Laura Leff] Yes, I know Irving included some of them in his book.

[Laura Leff] But, well, that's a story for another time. Probably involving Hadacol.

[Brad from Georgia] Maybe at the next 39 Forever convention we can get together the Quartsmen Sportet and sing a few of them.

[steve :shimp:]  

[Laura Leff] Hey, here's his wife's name..."Mrs. Scott" 4/13/51. Thanks,Bert...that was edifying.

[steve :shimp:] It'd be funnier if he was married to Mr. Scott.

[yhtapmys] Found his LA Times obit.

User KayLhota has entered this room.

[Laura Leff] Fascinating that Jack's and Bert's letters to Julius are equally emotionally effusive...

[KayLhota] Hi Folks.

[yhtapmys] Hi Kay

[Brad from Georgia] Hello, Kay

[steve :shimp:] Hi Kay!

[KayLhota] My apologies. I totally forgot about the chat.

[steve :shimp:] How did Bert know Julius? Was Bert from Waukegan too?

[Laura Leff] "It doesn't take a letter from you to make me think of you. Truthfully I think of you very, very often and with the longing of wanting to come East with Jack and either seeing you in Chicago or Waukegan.

[yhtapmys] Bingo!

[yhtapmys] Found it, Laura.

[yhtapmys] "addition to his son, he leaves his wife, Ann; daughter, Mrs. Valerie..."

[Laura Leff] The fond memories of our last visit there will always be a bright spot in my memories, never to be forgotten. The only kick I have to make Julius is--that our visits are too damn far apart."

[Laura Leff] Hi Kay!

[KayLhota] Hi Laura

[yhtapmys] So that's Bert Scott's wife and daughter in the story.

[steve :shimp:] Another JB reference nailed down!

[Laura Leff] Yht - Good job, Yht!!!!

[yhtapmys] Now if I can find Mrs. Schlepp...

[Laura Leff] When did he die?

[KayLhota] I'll have to read the log to get the beginning of the story. It sounds good.

[yhtapmys] Funeral mass at St. Timothy's in LA was on July 9, 1971.

[yhtapmys] Let me get a calendar. Hang on.

[Laura Leff] Yeah, I thought he predeceased Jack.

[Laura Leff] Does it say how old he was?

[KayLhota] That was my birthday. It was on a Saturday.

[steve :shimp:] Hey Kay, we have the same birthday, that's mine too.

[steve :shimp:] spooky.

[Laura Leff] I guess I need to tear myself away from reviewing these letters...

[KayLhota] NO! Really?

[Laura Leff] BRB

[steve :shimp:] Yep. Course, I wasn't born until 2 years later in 1973

[KayLhota] I NEVER find people that share my birthday

[steve :shimp:] I have another friend that shares that b-day.

[Brad from Georgia] Mrs. from Georgia's birthday is Tuesday. So is Stephen King's.

[KayLhota] Oops, wait. 1971 July 9 fell on a Friday

[yhtapmys] Scott died July 6, 1971.

[KayLhota] Steve, you were born on a Monday

[steve :shimp:] Start of the work week, heheheh.

[Brad from Georgia] I think I was a Monday kid, too. Oct. 27 1947.

[Laura Leff] Does it say how old he was?

[steve :shimp:] Monday's child is full of ... what? Wednesday is woe.

[KayLhota] I couldn't tell you why I remember stuff like this, but days of the week sometimes stand out for me

[Laura Leff] Face, Tuesday's child is full of grace

[steve :shimp:] I know what I'm full of.

[Laura Leff] Fair of face

[KayLhota] Monday's child is full of face, Tuesday's child is full of Grace

[steve :shimp:] Full of face? Weak.

[Laura Leff] I guess that means Monday's child suffers from childhood obesity

[Brad from Georgia] Monday's child is fairly glazed, Tuesday's child will soon be razed....

[yhtapmys] Hmm. His son was Milton B. Scott, advertising executive and vice president. of the Los Angeles Municipal Arts Commission.

[steve :shimp:]  

[KayLhota] Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go,

[Laura Leff] Friday's child is loving and giving

[KayLhota] Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for a living

[Laura Leff] Saturday's child works hard for a living

[Laura Leff] But the child that is born on the Sabbath day

[Brad from Georgia] Wednesday's child just won't say "no," Thursday's child's like "go, man, go."

[Laura Leff] Is bonny and blith and good and gay

[steve :shimp:]  

[KayLhota] Thank you, Laura!

[Laura Leff] I didn't know that Sunday's child needed to be outed, but I didn't write it.

[steve :shimp:] I don't know what full of face means. Like I ate a lot of faces, or I'm a little chubby-cheeked?

[Brad from Georgia] Friday's child gives lots of lovin', Saturday's child cooks with an oven....

[Laura Leff] FAIR of face

[steve :shimp:] OK. My face is very unfair though.

[Laura Leff] And that's what I like about the South

[Brad from Georgia] But the child that's born on Sunday is so lucky, 'cause that's the one day that he can hear Benny's show and learn recipes for Jell-O.

[Laura Leff] (Saturday's child cooks ham hocks and turnip greens on an oven)

User ed has entered this room.

[Brad from Georgia] ed's back

[KayLhota] my son Daniel and I are both Tuesday's children

[KayLhota] Hi Ed

[Laura Leff] WB Ed

[ed] i am back

[ed] hi kay

[steve :shimp:] What day of the week was Jack born?

[Laura Leff] I was born on a Friday

[Laura Leff] Why do I want to say Wednesday...

[Laura Leff] for Jack...

[KayLhota] Frank won't be in the chat tonight. He's given up trying on that laptop.

[Brad from Georgia] I wasn't born in a hospital. I was born at home. I wanted to be near my mother.

[Laura Leff] Get a perpetual calendar...

[ed] myself and my twin are tuesday kids

[Brad from Georgia] What are the odds?

[yhtapmys] Laura, I can't view the whole story, so I can't see his age.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Aha..thanks. I was just going to pester you again for that.   

[Laura Leff] I'm pretty sure he was younger than Jack.

[KayLhota] Does anybody get the Retro channel on TV?

[yhtapmys] You could call his son Milton B. Scott.

[Brad from Georgia] I do.

[Laura Leff] If he had a baby in 1947, then it's a safe bet.

[steve :shimp:] Jack was a Wednesday.

[Laura Leff] Only when Mad Men is on.

[Brad from Georgia] I'm givin' my wife a Tivo for her birthday...so I can record Jack's show while I'm teaching school.

[Laura Leff] Steve - AHA! *High fiving with myself*

[steve :shimp:] That is some font of knowledge in that noggin of yours, Laura!

[Laura Leff] Steve - It scares me more than I care to admit...the crap I carry around in my head...

[KayLhota] Jack Benny was born on a Wednesday. That's amazing. I would not call him, "Full of Woe" nohow!

[Laura Leff] Kay - Oh I don't know...he was moody.

[steve :shimp:] Jack was full of Whoa! (as Buck Benny)

[yhtapmys] Gee, I found a story I wish I could read. A prowler broke into Jack's home in 1956.

[Brad from Georgia] He was always yelling "Now cut that out!" In the South he'd be yelling "Whoa!

[KayLhota] Moody, yes-- but he was changeable. He didn't stay down long.

[steve :shimp:] Were there wacky burglar-proofing devices, and he slept through it?

[Laura Leff] I remember when someone broke into Mary's hotel room, IIRC

[Laura Leff] Kay - Point taken.

[steve :shimp:] Was the prowler Mel Blanc?

[Brad from Georgia] What made Jack mad, Laura?

[Laura Leff] Brad - Tell me more about what inspires the question so I can give you the right answer...

[KayLhota] I always imagined him to be so focused on his work, and the show

[Brad from Georgia] Just thinking of Jack's persona--he flies off the handle so often as a character--and his laid-back real personality. But he must have blown up a few times in his life.

[yhtapmys] I didn't know Jack had a home in Palm Springs.

[Laura Leff] Brad - Oh more than a few times!

[Laura Leff] Yht - Sure did. I've got a postcard of it.

[Laura Leff] Well, let's see. Rochester being late to rehearsal made Jack mad.

[yhtapmys] That's where this break in was. But I can only read the first line.

[Laura Leff] Or not showing up, or being unreliable.

[Brad from Georgia] I know he got very angry once when Eddie Anderson was denied a room in the hotel where Jack was staying.

[KayLhota] Was he the angry quick and blow up loud, but cool down fast, type?

[Laura Leff] Jack fired Fred deCordova (and other staff members) on several occasions because of what can best be summed up as "artistic differences".

[Laura Leff] Kay - Yes, he would then turn around and send lavish gifts with apologies.

[Laura Leff] When I interviewed him, Fred still had a giant wine barrel with an engraved plaque that said, "KMIT - Jack" on it that contained all sorts of gifts after firing him.

[KayLhota] wow

[Laura Leff] Jack got a little grumpier as he got older...Milt talks about that a little in his book.

[Brad from Georgia] Ah, a Yiddish insult and a great gift all in one.

[yhtapmys] Hey, Laura, here's something else...

[Laura Leff] I have a letter where he fires George Balzer, and it's pretty scathing.

[yhtapmys] There's a 1957 story about a show Jack was doing.

[yhtapmys] A club show.

[Laura Leff] Yht - OK...

[Laura Leff] Cool...you've got my attention.

[yhtapmys] And it talks about the "appearance of a cute 11-year-old girl named Valeria Scott who won terrific..."

[Laura Leff] Oh hillarious!

[yhtapmys] " audience reponse with her dead-pan reaction to Benny's violin playing."

[yhtapmys] So I guess that's Bert's daughter.

[Laura Leff] Let me flip to the 1957 letters and see if Bert mentions it.

[Laura Leff] Last one I have is 1/2/57, and that's it.

[yhtapmys] June 22, 1957 LA Times.

[yhtapmys] "Jack Benny, who has won fame in every phase of show business but one--night clubs--made his debut in the bistro medium a highly successful one Thursday"

[steve :shimp:] You might not want to look at the wikipedia entry for "Valerie Scott" as I just found out

[KayLhota] I was born on July 9, 1957

[Laura Leff] OK, now you've got me overly curious...

[yhtapmys] "night at the Flamingo in Las Vegas"

[steve :shimp:] I hope that's not Bert's daughter ...  

[Laura Leff] Um...probably not.

[yhtapmys] I suspect it is, Laura.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Oh, I think your clipping is Bert's daughter. I'm hoping the Wikipedia entry is not.

[yhtapmys] Wikipedia? Pfft.

[Laura Leff] "My little girl" indeed...

[steve :shimp:]  

[Laura Leff] Here's something fun... a letter from Mary to Julius from June 1928.

[yhtapmys] I can't read the whole thing, sorry. It mentions Jack got off to a nervous start.

[Brad from Georgia] Well, if the Wikipedia gal IS her...THERE'S an interview we won't see in the Times....

[yhtapmys] Hal Belfer produced and directed the show. Lou Basil and orchestra backed the principals in fine fashion.

[Laura Leff] Brad - One of these days I've got to transcribe my Rusty Warren interview.   

[KayLhota] I just did a little chart, June 22, 1957 was a Saturday

[yhtapmys] I saw Rusty Warren on stage.

[yhtapmys] Really corny but lots of fun.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Recently?

[yhtapmys] No, this was ... hmm.. 1984.

[yhtapmys] 1983, sorry.

[Laura Leff] Still recently compared to the era of her records.

[KayLhota] Laura, what about this letter that fired George Balzer?

[Brad from Georgia] My college roommate had Rusty Warren's records. I never thought they were all that funny.

[yhtapmys] Oh, sorry, Kay, I'm distracting everyone.

[Laura Leff] Kay - What would you like to know?

[KayLhota] I'm just curious as to what set Jack off, and was it fair to George?

[KayLhota] If I don't need to know, I'll back off.

[Laura Leff] Kay - Well, it sounds like he and Jack were incresingly at odds for some time before that. There's a comment about George throwing scripts and making strong statements, and a lot of it centers around the increasing use of Hickey as a writer.

[yhtapmys] Hmm. I can see that.

[Laura Leff] Sounds like George thought he wrote the roller-skating penguin bit, and Jack says it was all Hickey. Also issues around writing billing.

[Laura Leff] From Jack's perspective, George was being very unprofessional. I wasn't there, so I can't say what really happened.

[KayLhota] It sounds like the sort of stuff that can happen in a close professional relationship

[yhtapmys] We can probably read between the lines anyway, Laura.

[Laura Leff] Let's see if I can extract out just a little without besmirching George too much...

[Laura Leff] 1/18/69

[yhtapmys] I know if I were a top comedy writer, and someone's brother-in-law came in and started "improving" my stuff, I'd probably light into someone.

[KayLhota] Sure, even if Hickey was doing a good job.

[yhtapmys] Even if.

[yhtapmys] I work with people who are VERY protective of their writing.

[yhtapmys] Even if it's bad.

[Brad from Georgia] If I were a comedy writer, I'd put the penguin on ice skates. Ice skates are funnier than roller skates.

[yhtapmys] I'd use chickens. Chicken is a funny woid.

[yhtapmys] test

[KayLhota] Well, the penguins wandering across that stage was funny, and I remember it over 40 years later.

[Laura Leff] "First of all the idea of someone else taking my place when Jack Benny was introduced --was my idea. Lawrence Welk doing it was Fred DeCordova's idea. Then you and Sam wrote half of the monologue--and Hickie and I wrote the other half. The new talk

[Laura Leff] between Welk and me about the imitations was written by Hickie and me."

[Brad from Georgia] Ah, the birthday special....

[Laura Leff] A lot of examples of bits from the show, whose idea it was...

[Laura Leff] "Having the penguins on the show was Hickie's idea and Hickie's alone. He even made two trips to San Diego--(one of them with Freddie) to make sure that it would work out. If it does work out to our satisfaction--it will be the most talked of thing in

[Laura Leff] our whole show--and maybe comparable to the monkeys. I'm not sure--but I hope so. Hickie even worked out all the bits with the trainer."

[KayLhota] Wow, you I think he was right about the penguins!

[Laura Leff] Considering the number of people who still write and ask me if I've got the show with the penguins, I think Jack was right.

[yhtapmys] Jack knows comedy.

[Brad from Georgia] I once got to pet a penguin named Dirty Harry at Sea World. He was...sleek. And smelled of fish.

[yhtapmys] Better than petting a skunk, Brad.

[Brad from Georgia] Penguins, by the way, hate to be picked up. Something to do with a fear of flying.

[yhtapmys] It sounds like something had been stewing with George for awhile.

[KayLhota] Penguins are more sea creatures. They fly underwater.

[yhtapmys] And it just erupted.

[Laura Leff] It goes on. You get the gist.

[Laura Leff] So Brad...did I answer your question?   

[Brad from Georgia] (Oh my gosh. "Family Guy" is doing an Ed joke with a tunnel beneath Stan's house!) Yes, thanks, LL.

[steve :shimp:] wow, interesting stuff!

[KayLhota] Yes, and I respect the information that you have shared with us.

[yhtapmys] Jack certains sounds fair and reasonable.

[yhtapmys] But George obviously resented something.

[Laura Leff] It sounds like the real flash point was a combination of Hickey's increasingly central role in the writing and the billing question.

[Laura Leff] And on the flip side...George got this letter and returned it to Jack unopened, saying something like, "I know you don't mean anything you say in this letter."

[KayLhota] Interesting.

[Brad from Georgia] Billing is often important to writers. When I've had cowriters, I never particularly cared about the billing, though.

[KayLhota] George Balzer know that Jack Benny would cool down, and always respected the talent and skill of his writers.

[steve :shimp:] Was Hickey credited as a writer on the specials, or just a producer?

[Brad from Georgia] That's because I'm the typist, so I always put mine first anyway.

[yhtapmys] Brad, if it sells, no one worries about the billing.

[Laura Leff] Steve - Good question...I can't remember and haven't compiled the credits of the specials yet.

[yhtapmys] If it doesn't sell, then they don't want ANY billing.

[Brad from Georgia] I did once have a writer I know ask me to list him as a cowriter on one of my books because he just wanted the credit to show around in Hollywood when he was trying to write movies.

[Laura Leff] Alan Smithee

[Laura Leff] Brad - Sounds like Al Jolson being credited as co-writer on many songs

[Brad from Georgia] I didn't agree, though. It didn't make sense to me.

[Laura Leff] I'm always a little mixed about that letter because I think it can be taken out of context easily and makes George look really bad. I'm not out to trash anyone.

[KayLhota] you are not trashing anybody.

[Laura Leff] Which makes Mary an interesting situation.

[yhtapmys] Are there trashy letters about her?

[Brad from Georgia] I dunno. Jack's flares of anger and almost instant remorse seems well-established, so I'm not sure anyone would take his letter too seriously.

[Laura Leff] Say, as long as I'm transcribing letters, may I share this 1928 letter from her?

[KayLhota] Mostly, I feel sorry for Mary.

[steve :shimp:] Please do

[Brad from Georgia] Sure, please do.

[Laura Leff] Thanks. I think for all the things that happened later in life, this is an interesting lens into who she was just a year after marrying Jack, when she was still "talking with the nobodies".

[Laura Leff] (If anyone doesn't get that reference, let me know.)

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[Laura Leff] Darling Julius, (remember Jack and Mary got married in his apartment)

[KayLhota] the nobodies, I take are the unimportant people

[yhtapmys] Oh, like us!

[KayLhota] such as those that are not in show business, or in a field that can help out

[KayLhota] am I on the right track, Laura?

[Laura Leff] Alright so I'm late in writing and your sore at me and you think I'm an egg. But I love you. So there you are and there's no room for an argument. How are you and the gang? Have you had a customer yet [Julius worked the men's garment dept. at a store

[Laura Leff] called The Hub]

[yhtapmys] Egg?

[KayLhota] egg is slang, like "you're a good egg"

[Laura Leff] Kay - It's the reason Mary wanted to move out of Century City, because she didn't like "riding in the elevator with the nobodies"

[KayLhota] Mary at her more queenly

[Laura Leff] (back to letter) or are you still playing cards? We're all fine here [letter is on Hotel St. Francis stationery in San Francisco]

[Brad from Georgia] Like the apocryphal tale of Lucille Ball on an airliner refusing to speak to the flight attendant because "Miss Ball doesn't talk to the help."

[Laura Leff] Jack looks great and he's as black as a n*****. He has that real California sunburn. Do you see anything of Bebe and Al. [Mary's sister, Babe, and then husband Al Bernovici]

[steve :shimp:] Sheesh. I wonder if Mary and Lucy got along...

[Laura Leff] If you see Bebe give her a big kiss for me that's a good one too but I mean when Al's not looking.

[KayLhota] actually, Lucy and Mary did. They were neighbors.

[Laura Leff] Well old dear we're here in San Francisco for a week then back to Los Angeles, but it looks like we'll see you real soon now so get that apricot brandy ready. Well Julius that's about all. Write me a long letter to 1119 1/2 W. Santa Barbara Ave. Los

[Laura Leff] Angeles CAl. All my love, love to Sid, Boots

[steve :shimp:] "Boots?"

[Brad from Georgia] {The "doesn't speak to the help" tale is an old canard, told about many people. Most recently about our current First Lady}

[Laura Leff] Brad - Really...I didn't know it was apocryphal.

[Laura Leff] Yup. Boots.

[Laura Leff] The stuff you find in these letters.

[Brad from Georgia] According to snopes, it is. He cited Lucille Ball and a couple of others whom I can't remember; Michelle Obama is the most recent victim of the story.

[Laura Leff] Remember, she wasn't Mary yet either. Still Sadye. A name she hated.

[KayLhota] Lucille Ball could be queenly, but I read that she would get her hands in and really get down in work

[Laura Leff] Brad - Michelle Obama doesn't even seem like the type.

[Brad from Georgia] Only to Republicans, I suppose.

[Laura Leff] Kay - I'm sure you know the story about Jack saying he couldn't work with her anymore because she was such a taskmaster.

[steve :shimp:] I'm thinking a "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane" with Mary and Lucy would have been cool.

[Laura Leff] Steve - Oooh...but who plays which role?

[steve :shimp:] Lucy as Joan Crawford, I think.

[KayLhota] I've read stuff about Lucille Ball that seems balanced enough about her diva stuff, but she was loving and loyal to people

[Brad from Georgia] LL-I read somewhere that Jack returned home after rehearsing for an appearance with Lucille Ball and said to Mary, "That woman needs therapy!"

[Laura Leff] Brad - Funny that Jack was such a perfectionist, but Lucy was above and beyond that!

[steve :shimp:] Watching that rehearsal footage with Jack and Lucy on
the Here's Lucy DVD is informative.
[Laura Leff] Well, thanks folks for being open to me sharing that
letter. I've loved it since I first found it.
[Brad from Georgia] Yes, but all Jack asked for was one rehearsal. ONE
lousy rehearsal.
[Laura Leff] Steve - Interesting...I've not seen that.
[Brad from Georgia] Now, penguins on ice skates with kumquats and
pickles...That's funny.
[steve :shimp:] Oh, you should check it out. It has Jack talking to
Milt for help with the script. Really neat stuff.
[Laura Leff] Brad - Nah...no "k" in penguins.
[Laura Leff] Steve - Cool!
[steve :shimp:] And seriously, Lucy runs the show. I don't know why
she paid for a director.
[Laura Leff] So we're at the 2-hour mark almost...what else Benny-wise
is on everyone's mind tonight?
[KayLhota] It's on the "Hear's Lucy" DVD set, and it is very telling
[yhtapmys] I have a question, Laura.
[Laura Leff] Go for it, Yht.
[yhtapmys] Speaking of scripts and writers and such...
[Laura Leff] How old was Bert Scott when he died?
[yhtapmys] I noticed this show had a long tag at the end.
[yhtapmys] Did they generally write those with a bunch of lines to be
used to fill time?
[Laura Leff] Let me listen to it again...
[Brad from Georgia] Jack flubs a line at the end, too.
[yhtapmys] Well, this one, it sounds like they've got a gag. But
they've still got extra time, so they go to a kind of weaker line.
[steve :shimp:] I remember George Burns saying he'd always have a
15-second, 30-second, and a minute gag all on hand in case his show
ran short.
[yhtapmys] It's like they structured the tag where it could be cut off
at any given point for time.
[yhtapmys] I was wondering if they did that with all the shows, the
later ones anyway.
[yhtapmys] I ask because you've had a glance at the scripts.
[steve :shimp:] yht, I don't know if you know, but you can see all the
Lucky Strike era scripts on tobaccodocuments.org
[steve :shimp:] scanned from the original copies.
[steve :shimp:] Cool stuff.
[yhtapmys] OK. Does that include stuff that didn't make it to air?
[steve :shimp:] yes, usually with handwritten corrections to "as-broadcast"
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[KayLhota] I have to duck out to take a call.
[steve :shimp:] We lost Laura...
[KayLhota] Say goodnight to Laura for me!
[yhtapmys] OK, K.
[steve :shimp:] Bye Kay!
User KayLhota has logged out.
User Laura Leff has entered this room.

[Brad from Georgia] Laura, Kay says goodnight.

[Laura Leff] Can someone send me what I missed since

[Laura Leff] Brad - Funny that Jack was such a perfectionist, but Lucy was above and beyond that!

[Laura Leff] Ah, sorry I missed her.

[yhtapmys] Just listening to this one makes me think they didn't get all the laughs they wanted. They used up the tag material and still had 58 seconds at the end.

[yhtapmys] Don even fit in an extra PSA over the music.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Yeah, that's what I think too. Manages the spread.

[Laura Leff] Don even sounds like he's stretching for time.

[steve :shimp:] I'll send the text Laura

[Brad from Georgia] Yht, if you want to MANAGE the spread...Don's the wrong guy for the job.

[Laura Leff] Slow reading of the lines with long breaks in between, trying to hit the last notes with "This is the Columbia Broadcasting System"

[Laura Leff] Thanks, Steve

[yhtapmys] That being the case, I imagine there weren't a lot of happy writers on Monday.

[Laura Leff] The funny thing is, I think it's a good show.

[Brad from Georgia] Yet I thought it was a solid show. Maybe Jack's

[Brad from Georgia] Aw, Laura--maybe Jack's illness threw his timing off a bit, but lots of good parts.

[Laura Leff] Maybe. This is also not terribly long after Jack started in television, so I'm sure that kept everyone busy.

[Laura Leff] And they normally did the promos for the other shows.

[yhtapmys] Well, I can hear the usual structure in the show but not a lot of really strong jokes.

[yhtapmys] There are some good anticipatory bits, though.

[Brad from Georgia] If they had time at the end, they COULD have had Dennis come out and sing "My Heart Cries for You."

[Laura Leff] It wasn't until later that Hal and Al came on staff, or I'd wonder if they were still getting their feet wet.

[yhtapmys] Was that Blanche Stewart doing the opera singer?

[Brad from Georgia] Yes, it was.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Sure was.

[Laura Leff] I was expecting the Sara Berner bit as well. I'm delighted to find that even though I've heard all these shows, I'm able to enjoy them again without remembering every detail.

[yhtapmys] I just kind of get the impression the show was written a little late, that's all.

[yhtapmys] I don't know what it is.

[Laura Leff] I'm sure we can all easily imagine Sara Berner doing her nasal songstress bit with that song.

[Laura Leff] Well, let's see...this was 3/18/51

[yhtapmys] I was listening to her on a couple of Tex Avery cartoons the other day.

[Laura Leff] The next show on TV would be 4/8/51

[Brad from Georgia] I thought the letter's smelling of hamburger was a good gag.

[Laura Leff] 4/5/51...sorry

[Brad from Georgia] Maybe the writers thought Jack would still be sick and just goofed off...

[yhtapmys] I wonder Brad if they weren't sure if he was going to be doing the show.

[Laura Leff] And that had Claudette Colbert, Basil Rathbone, Robert Montgomery...BIG production.

[Brad from Georgia] Dennis had an uncharacteristically ghoulish little line: "If you don't get up soon, you won't get up at all."

[Brad from Georgia] You know, that might not even have BEEN Jack. His cousin Booboo sounded a lot like him.

[Laura Leff] So I can imagine a lot more of people's attention was focused on doing that show right.

[steve :shimp:] OK folks, I need to head on out. Up early tomorrow! Great chatting with you all as usual.

[yhtapmys] Jack's was focused on Gisele MacKenzie.  

[Brad from Georgia] Now "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" is coming on the air. Must be Victor Hugo night.

[yhtapmys] Does Don play the cathedral?

[Laura Leff] Take care, Steve!

[steve :shimp:] Night!

[Brad from Georgia] It's the Charles Laughton version.

User steve :shimp: has logged out.

[Laura Leff] Yht - Indeed...or that really was more 1952

[Brad from Georgia] I'd better go too. School tomorrow, early.

[Laura Leff] Well, shall we call it good for tonight?

[Brad from Georgia] Goodnight, all.

[Laura Leff] OK...take care and I'll see you next month!

[yhtapmys] Yeah, I'm transcribing this story for the forum.

[Laura Leff] Thanks Yht! Much appreciated...