IJBFC Chat - January 10, 2016

(Name of message originator above the comment)

Laura Leff·5:00 PM

Hi Matt!


Matt·5:00 PM

Hi Laura!


Laura Leff·5:00 PM

Is this your first time here?

Hey Steve!


Steve Archer·5:00 PM

Hi Laura, Matt!


Matt·5:01 PM

I think I was on a Jack Benny chat many years ago but this is the first time in year.


Steve Archer·5:01 PM

Nicely fundraised boulder and plaque!

Good to have you Matt, hope we don't scare you away :)


Laura Leff·5:01 PM

Yeah, thanks for the ideas on that!  Amazing how quickly we reached our goal

Welcome back, Matt.  Glad you joined us again.


Matt·5:01 PM



Laura Leff·5:02 PM

I'm just hearing the closing commercial of the show for discussion tonight.

How was everyone's holiday?


Steve Archer·5:02 PM

Nice, how was Cuba?


Laura Leff·5:03 PM

Oh wow, it was really amazing.  Everything I wanted it to be.  Thanks for asking.

Fascinating how permeating Lucky Strike is down there!


Steve Archer·5:03 PM

Really!  How funny.


Laura Leff·5:03 PM

Advertised just everywhere, packs behind every bar, umbrellas at cafes, etc.


Steve Archer·5:04 PM

When I lived in Florida, Cuba was actually closer than say, Alabama, but it seemed a world away.  Glad that is changing.


Laura Leff·5:04 PM

Yeah, I guess American Tobacco is now Cuban Tobacco.

George Washington Hill would be proud.

So I'm done with the show for discussion tonight...did either of you get a chance to listen to it?


Steve Archer·5:04 PM

I saw Luckies behind the counter at a drugstore here in Seattle, I guess they're still on the market (for better or worse)


Laura Leff·5:05 PM

Steve - Interesting...I didn't know they still sold them here.


Steve Archer·5:05 PM

Oh, yeah, I listened to it for the last semi-chat but have it playing again here.


Laura Leff·5:05 PM

And a public apology for my missing the chat.  Duh.


Matt·5:05 PM

I have been playing it now


Steve Archer·5:05 PM

They're probably made in China with sawdust and melamine now.

No worries Laura!


Laura Leff·5:06 PM

Say Matt, tell us more about your background with Jack.  How you were introduced to him, what your interests are regarding his work, etc.


Steve Archer·5:07 PM

Hey Laura did you get those postcards from Palm Springs?


Matt·5:07 PM

When I was 9 (in 1986, not to date myself) my father came home from a church meeting or something all excited because he had found a faraway radio station (I think WCAU in Philly--we were in Michigan) playing Jack Benny.  We couldn't get it on the radio in the house so we sat in the car listening to the show---heater running, snow falling.  I will never forget the expression on dad's face--like he was meeting old friends again.


Laura Leff·5:08 PM

I did, and thank you!  They're here on my desk for inclusion in the newsletter.


Matt·5:08 PM

I was hooked.  I began listening to Jack on that station as often as I could.


Laura Leff·5:08 PM

I love it!  Where in Michigan were you?  Both Steve and I have Michigan in our personal pedigree.


Matt·5:08 PM

Saginaw County


Steve Archer·5:08 PM

I got a kick that they were still selling cards of Phil and Alice's house.  I took a spin past a house that one of the local guides said Jack either owned or stayed in, but you couldn't see much from the public right of way.

Oh, nice Matt.  I grew up around Lansing.


Laura Leff·5:09 PM

And I'm tethering the other side of the mitten in Grand Rapids.

I think the Windsor music of your life station was still broadcasting in 1986...but I can't remember if they broadcast old radio.


Matt·5:10 PM

I don't know if this was syndicated or just something off of WCAU--they occasionally had interviews after the shows.  They interviewed Phil Harris and Joan Benny, from what I remember.


Laura Leff·5:10 PM

Y'know...I think we may have a recording of that in our audio library!

Hi Linda!


Steve Archer·5:11 PM

Hi Linda


Linda Cree joined the room


Linda Cree·5:11 PM

Hi Laura and all!


Matt·5:11 PM

Hi Linda


Laura Leff·5:11 PM

Matt - In those days, Charles Michaelson was syndicating the radio shows of both Jack and Burns and Allen.  So it's possible.


Matt·5:12 PM

I remember the first time I got audio tapes of Jack Benny I was surprised (and delighted) to hear the ads (which of course were cut out for radio broadcast.)


Laura Leff·5:12 PM

I've often said that when Jack's name comes up, a lot of people "go into their warm place."  They get this happy, almost beatific, look on their faces in remembering the show.


Steve Archer·5:12 PM

We're fortunate to have a good AM station here that still runs Jack once in awhile among other OTR.


Laura Leff·5:13 PM

Matt - Ah, that's the key for Charles Michaelson syndication.  So much was cut out.


Matt·5:13 PM

My grandpa's birthday was February 14---according to my dad, every year he said "Jack Benny and I are 39 today."


Laura Leff·5:13 PM

Steve - That's good to know.  I get notification of a Canada station that runs Jack fairly regularly.


Steve Archer·5:13 PM

There's still something special about hearing those shows actually "over the air" rather than at the click of a mouse.


Laura Leff·5:14 PM

Matt - Ha!  There's a gag in the radio version of "The Happy Time" on Jack's show where he gets into an argument with Mel Blanc, playing his character's father.

They both claim to be 39, and Mel (in French) protests that it is his because he got there first.


Steve Archer·5:14 PM

Here's the link to our local JB venue in Seattle: http://kixi.com/shows/when-radio-was/

When Radio Was - AM 880 KIXI kixi.com

When Radio Was airs Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights from 8pm to 9pm and Saturday and Sunday nig

Laura Leff·5:14 PM

Steve - Especially if you have the capability of playing them through a wood radio.


Linda Cree·5:14 PM

It's great that so many of the radio shows are available.


Matt·5:15 PM

"When I get to be 39 like Mr. Benny I hope I look 39 like other people."


Steve Archer·5:15 PM

Oh, I have one better for Jack than that - a PAY radio that you have to put a dime into!

I'll have to show you sometime.


Laura Leff·5:15 PM

Fun!  Now all you need is a one-cent slot machine.


Steve Archer·5:15 PM

Hmmm... Headed to Vegas in two weeks so I will be on the lookout!


Laura Leff·5:15 PM

Linda - Absolutely.  We're lucky on that one!

So what did folks think of the second Yosemite show tonight?


Steve Archer·5:16 PM

They're really firing on all cylinders, unlike the Maxwell ;)

Great show.


Laura Leff·5:17 PM

Yeah, this whole series is what I consider to be the turning point between the 1930s shows and what would become the "golden age" of Jack in the mid to late 1940s.

There's one line I'm curious to hear people's reactions to...

Jack can't see Rochester who is sitting right next to him.


Linda Cree·5:18 PM

I agree, Laura.  They really hit their stride.


Matt·5:18 PM

I love this era of the Benny Shows.


Laura Leff·5:18 PM

And Jack says, "Well,open your eyes or smile so I can see you!"


Steve Archer·5:18 PM

It kind of negates the earlier (great) "I can't do that blackface stuff" line.


Laura Leff·5:18 PM

Yeah, exactly!


Linda Cree·5:18 PM

Call in the PC police, Laura.


Laura Leff·5:18 PM

That sounded really progressive, and then suddenly we were back in Stepin Fetchit days!

I'm not trying to decry the line, but curious how people processed it.


Steve Archer·5:19 PM

I was actually thinking about it and still Rochester comes out so far ahead of some of those really awful contemporary stereotypes.


Linda Cree·5:20 PM

That's the same as the you'll get lost in the snow line.


Steve Archer·5:20 PM

I recall seeing some ad with Rochester at some point and - Laura, you will probably know what I'm referring to, it featured a headshot


Laura Leff·5:20 PM

Steve - Not ringing a bell...what was it for?


Steve Archer·5:21 PM

of Eddie Anderson, and it was written to congratulate Jack on a new season or something, but all of the copy was filled with the Yassuh, Sho' Nuff kind of crap, and I looked at it and thought "Rochester doesn't talk like that!"


Laura Leff·5:21 PM

Matt - I agree with you...say more about what puts this era of shows ahead of others in your opinion.


Steve Archer·5:21 PM

I'll have to see if I can Google it up.


Laura Leff·5:22 PM

Steve - Yes, I do believe I remember that.  One wonders who may have written the copy on it...and whether it was intended for a Southern audience.


Matt·5:22 PM

I think there's a sophistication to the writing that you would never find in any other radio show of the era.  I love Burns and Allen and other shows of the era but you compare them with what Benny was doing in these days and it's world's apart.  The final years of Beloin and Morrow on the Benny show are so amazing.


Linda Cree·5:22 PM

Yes, Steve.  It was the same in the Jello cola ad I posted a while back.  Rcohester didn't speak like that.




Carole Lombard joined the room


Laura Leff·5:23 PM

Matt - Hallelujah, I'm with you on that!  I actually enjoy the Morrow-Beloin shows more than the "golden age," but plenty of people disagree with me on that.


Carole Lombard·5:23 PM

I totally agree with you.


Laura Leff·5:23 PM

Welcome Carole!


Carole Lombard·5:24 PM

Thanks! I'm ashamed to say that it's been four years since I've chatted but I enjoyed it very much.


Laura Leff·5:24 PM

Linda - Bingo!  I was just going to mention that ad that was completely unfaithful to the characters.


Steve Archer·5:24 PM

Hiya Carole


Carole Lombard·5:24 PM

Hiya, Steve!


Laura Leff·5:24 PM

Carole - Welcome back, then!  Someone was telling me earlier today that you were one of their very favorites.


Carole Lombard·5:25 PM

Thank you! That's nice to hear for a 107-year-old.


Laura Leff·5:25 PM

Oh you don't look a day over 39.


Carole Lombard·5:25 PM

Photoshop is my friend.  Anyone know the real reason why Morrow and Beloin left (besides WW2)


Laura Leff·5:26 PM

That's pretty much it.  Bill Morrow got drafted and Jack couldn't get him a waiver, and Ed Beloin decided he wanted to try his hand at movies...but you can hear him stay on with the show for a while as Mr. Billingsley, etc.


Matt·5:26 PM

Yeah, I heard a show as late as 1944, I think where he was still playing Billingsley.


Carole Lombard·5:26 PM

I did recognize his voice, which I always loved. It seems incredible that anyone would want to leave such a successful gig.

Did Ed ever try to come back as a writer? Or did he have enough money...


Linda Cree·5:27 PM

I felt the same way about Kenny Baker.


Laura Leff·5:27 PM

Right.  And the other writers came on in the fall of 1943.


Carole Lombard·5:27 PM


I believe he later regretted that decision. But he was young and it's easy to get a swelled head.


Laura Leff·5:28 PM

Yes, Ed did pretty well in movies.  Look up IMDB to see some of his.


Linda Cree·5:28 PM

I think Kenny jumped ship too quickly.


Matt·5:28 PM

Ed Beloin also wrote for the Lucy Show in the 60s.


Laura Leff·5:28 PM

Linda - Agreed.  I think he had people telling him he could be so much more, and then that didn't work out that way.


Carole Lombard·5:28 PM

Did he? I wonder if he worked with Elliot Lewis, who directed some of those shows. (I have a talent crush on Elliot).


Laura Leff·5:29 PM

Carole - You know Elliott played two roles in tonights show, right?


Carole Lombard·5:29 PM


He was a genius.


Matt·5:29 PM

Was Blanche Stewart in this one?


Laura Leff·5:29 PM


Sure was...the waitress.


Matt·5:29 PM

I thought so.


Laura Leff·5:29 PM

(Blanche Stewart)

I had to look up who did the parrot, though.

It didn't sound like Mel to me, and it wasn't.


Matt·5:31 PM

When I get some extra money, I really need to buy the 39 Forever Books because there are many times I recognize a voice on the shows but there are enough times when I think, "Who WAS that?!"

I should have asked for them for Christmas...


Steve Archer·5:31 PM

Have you ever run a pic of Blanche Stewart in the Times Laura?  I can't say that I've ever seen one.


Laura Leff·5:31 PM

Ha!  Yep, that's one of the things I was trying to answer with them!


Perri Harper joined the room


Carole Lombard·5:31 PM

Who played Buckingham Benny? He was hilarious.


Laura Leff·5:32 PM

Steve - Yes, some time back.  Will have to keep an eye out for another.

Carole - Stand by...I'll look it up.


Steve Archer·5:33 PM

OK, I'll have to flip through the back issues!


Laura Leff·5:33 PM

Benny Baker played Buckingham Benny


Carole Lombard·5:33 PM

And one more - because it has been driving me nuts - who played the "Mooley-esque" (not Elliot) who had the gag about going to Harvard and the Benny writers hitting him on the head, which he said "I liked that."

Was it really????


Laura Leff·5:33 PM

Elliott Lewis usually played the Mooley guy


Perri Harper·5:33 PM

Sliding in late....  Matt the 39 Forever books are *wonderful*!


Laura Leff·5:33 PM


Hi Perri!


Carole Lombard·5:33 PM

Right but this was another of that type, but not Elliot.


Laura Leff·5:33 PM

Carole - Are you sure it's not Elliott?


Carole Lombard·5:34 PM

Definitely. I know that voice.


Laura Leff·5:34 PM

What era of show?


Carole Lombard·5:34 PM


He also did a Grape Nuts Flakes commercial where he couldn't read it very well - kept emphasizing the wrong words

But I have no idea who he was.


Laura Leff·5:34 PM

Could be Benny Rubin...looking for mooley characters


Matt·5:35 PM

Have you ever read Benny Rubin's self published memoir?


Carole Lombard·5:35 PM

No, Benny had a distinctive voice as well. The image you get is a big palooka kind of dope.

Wow - didn't know Benny wrote a book? Was he bitter about vaudeville?


Steve Archer·5:35 PM

Matt - Yes, Benny Rubin's book is a lot of fun.


Laura Leff·5:35 PM

Matt - I think so...trying to remember the name..."Come Backstage with Me"?


Steve Archer·5:36 PM

That's it Laura.


Matt·5:36 PM

Yes, I think so


Carole Lombard·5:36 PM

I'll have to look that one up!


Linda Cree·5:36 PM

Me too!


Matt·5:36 PM

Filled with great stories--some of them might have actually happened.


Laura Leff·5:36 PM

That's a great book.  He even reveals that Mary made her radio debut before Jack did (theoretically)!


Linda Cree·5:36 PM

Hee hee!


Laura Leff·5:36 PM

Matt - Well said.


Steve Archer·5:36 PM

Jack writes one of the forwards to it.


Matt·5:36 PM

I enjoyed it but also recognized that some of hi stories didn't add up factually.


Laura Leff·5:37 PM

I see John Brown did a mooley character


Carole Lombard·5:37 PM

The same John Brown from Life of Riley?


Laura Leff·5:37 PM

Matt - Never let the facts get in the way of a good story!

Carole - Yep


Carole Lombard·5:37 PM

My gosh.


Steve Archer·5:38 PM

I just pulled Benny Rubin's book off the shelf, George Burns' forward cracks me up: "I haven't read Benny Rubin's Book, but I certainly will because he's always been one of our great storytellers - besides, my name is on the jacket".  That's it!


Laura Leff·5:38 PM

Yeah, looks like it's John Brown.  I have him being roped into doing the commercial on 3/5/44.

Steve - That's George.


Carole Lombard·5:38 PM

Incredible. A totally different voice from Digger O'Dell. That's talent.


Matt·5:38 PM

John Brown was blacklisted later, wasn't he?


Laura Leff·5:39 PM

Gee...I don't know!


Carole Lombard·5:39 PM

Yes. It was criminal what they did to those people.  It killed John Brown.

I believe he died of a heart attack.


Steve Archer·5:39 PM

Yes, he was the first "Harry Morton" on Burns and Allen's TV show.  Or one of the first.  Maybe Hal March was.  Then got the boot presumably for being blacklisted.


Carole Lombard·5:39 PM

Edward Arnold, John Garfield as well.


Laura Leff·5:39 PM

I just was showing someone "The Front" and telling how Zero Mostel's character was based on an actor on "The Goldbergs."


Matt·5:39 PM

Yeah, I think that's right, Steve--that's the reason he lasted only a few weeks as Harry Morton--the red scare.


Carole Lombard·5:40 PM

That is a superb film. Woody Allen's parting line "This committee can go f--- itself" is divine.


Laura Leff·5:40 PM

By the way, I highly recommend the movie "Trumbo."


Carole Lombard·5:40 PM

Is it good?


Laura Leff·5:40 PM

It's very good.


Carole Lombard·5:40 PM

I've wanted to see that.

Do you smell Oscar for Brian?


Laura Leff·5:40 PM

They don't say anything about Trumbo's time running around in Mexico to avoid the draft, but it's still a very good movie.

Carole - I'd love to...but since it wasn't even nominated for a Golden Globe as best picture, I'm not optimistic.


Carole Lombard·5:41 PM

Hollywood still can't stand self-criticism. It was the same in my day.


Laura Leff·5:41 PM

Or rather, avoid the sentence, not the draft.


Carole Lombard·5:42 PM

How is Kirk Douglas portrayed? Is he made out to be the hero who rescued Dalton?


Laura Leff·5:42 PM

Jean Rouveral has a book called "Refugees from Hollywood" about them hiding out in Mexico.


Carole Lombard·5:42 PM

Another must-read, I think.


Laura Leff·5:42 PM

Yes, it's kind of a competition between Otto Preminger and Kirk Douglas.

The portrayal of Preminger is a stitch!


Carole Lombard·5:42 PM

Preminger - another genius, but not someone I would want to work with.

I love the story about Jackie Gleason and Preminger.


Matt·5:43 PM

With all of the things that happened during the red scare--Laura, do you know of anyone associated with the Benny show who was blacklisted?  We mentioned John Brown but I can't think of anyone else, really.


Laura Leff·5:43 PM

Larry Adler was the first name in Red Channels.


Carole Lombard·5:43 PM

No wonder he moved to England.


Laura Leff·5:43 PM

And that's exactly why.


Matt·5:44 PM

Was Minerva Pious blacklisted?


Laura Leff·5:44 PM

Well, I published some documents in the newsletter that I found in the Warner Brother's archives that had Jack buying a script from Trumbo for him to star in, and then suddenly losing interest in it.  Been meaning to look up the dates of that.

Matt - Good question!  Not that I'm aware of, but I could see it happening.


Carole Lombard·5:45 PM

Looks like she was. Here is an exhaustive list.  http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=389x9489003

a look at history..The House Un-American Activities Committee - Democratic Underground www.democraticunderground.com

a look at history..The House Un-American Activities Committee


Laura Leff·5:45 PM

Good job!


Carole Lombard·5:45 PM


This list is shocking


Matt·5:46 PM

Nat Hiken!  I think he wrote for Fred Allen at one time?

John Brown is on the list.


Laura Leff·5:46 PM

Didn't he also work with Abbott and Costello?


Steve Archer·5:46 PM

I'm just now thinking of a screenplay where Mary Livingstone, instead of becoming reclusive in the seventies, secretly joins the Symbionese Liberation Army....


Laura Leff·5:46 PM

And Paul Robeson...


Carole Lombard·5:47 PM

Norman Corwin???


Laura Leff·5:47 PM

Steve - That's funny...I just showed Vera "Network" the other day...

Carole - Of all people!


Perri Harper·5:47 PM

, http://www.attaboyclarence.com/the-secret-history-of-hollywood/4/2/2015/hunting-witches-with-walt-di... ; I had this on the menu for listening later tonight.

Thumbnail image



Hunting Witches With Walt Disney www.attaboyclarence.com

Once upon a time, Hollywood went to war with itself.  In the mid-1930’s, Communism began to find its way into the film capital of the world, and over the next two decades, it tore the glamorous world of Tinseltown apart. The story of the Red Scare in Hollywood, that destroyed lives, allowed …


Carole Lombard·5:47 PM

I know! These people were nuts.


Laura Leff·5:47 PM

Leonard Bernstein AND Aaron Copland...


Carole Lombard·5:47 PM

Martin Gabel f'God's sake!


Linda Cree·5:48 PM

And this doesn't include those who barely escaped the list.


Laura Leff·5:48 PM

Gypsy Rose Lee?


Carole Lombard·5:48 PM

I'm thinking these people were accused, not necessarily blacklisted because Judy Holliday is listed and she played her Billie Dawn character from Born Yesterday and fooled them. Still....

Burl Ives?  Come on. Burl Ives?


Laura Leff·5:49 PM

Orson Welles?  OK, maybe I can see that...


Carole Lombard·5:49 PM

Yeah..fair point. Another genius.

Many of the Mercury Theater people are there, like Gabel and Paul Stewart.


Laura Leff·5:50 PM

No one else is jumping out at me as being related to the Benny show though on quick scan.

Commie aliens


Linda Cree·5:50 PM

I heard for a while it was touch and go with Lucille Ball almost making the list.


Carole Lombard·5:50 PM

Yes, there was something about her appearing before the committee because her grandfather was a very strong Communist and she joined just to shut him up.


Linda Cree·5:51 PM



Carole Lombard·5:51 PM

"The only thing red about Lucy is her hair." I think the quote went.


Steve Archer·5:51 PM

"and even that's not real"


Laura Leff·5:51 PM

Lucy "appears" in the Trumbo movie.


Carole Lombard·5:52 PM

She put the henna people's kids through college.

Is the actress playing her good?


Laura Leff·5:52 PM

Maybe I missed something, but I didn't realize how close Edward G. Robinson was with the Hollywood Ten.


Carole Lombard·5:52 PM

He was very progressive.


Laura Leff·5:52 PM

I think they just use a recording of a speech she made on radio.


Linda Cree·5:53 PM

She was Maharincess (hennarincess) of Franistan!


Carole Lombard·5:53 PM

I love it!!! I think back then, all you had to do was not be a Republican and maybe appeared on a pro-Russian show, but many of those shows were done during WW2 when they were our allies. I don't see how they could be faulted for that. It's not like anyone trusted Stalin but the enemy of my enemy...

Ella Logan is on the list. She was on the show.

Oh, no... it was Mail Call.


Laura Leff·5:54 PM

Good catch


Carole Lombard·5:54 PM

But she did work with Jack.


Matt·5:55 PM

I don't know if it's still online but for a while there was a 1963 clip of the Tonight Show in which Henry Morgan mentions that during the war he spoke at some dinner about housing and 10 years later, they told him that a Communist group put on the dinner and with that he was tainted.


Laura Leff·5:55 PM

Yeah, someone in the movie points out re the Russians and WWII, "Weren't we on the same side?"


Linda Cree·5:55 PM

I heard that too, Matt.


Laura Leff·5:55 PM

Philip Loeb.  There's the actor who inspired Zero Mostel's character in "The Front."


Carole Lombard·5:55 PM

Matt - right! That's how people got called up. But it wasn't just after WW2, it was happening in the early 40s. Can't remember what they called it.


Laura Leff·5:56 PM

There was a longer mouthful of a name of the group led by John Wayne

Oh and Helen Mirren is AMAZING as Hedda Hopper.


Carole Lombard·5:56 PM

And Robert Taylor. I wonder if that hurt their friendship.  Helen Mirren would be amazing as Lincoln.

I bet her hats are FABULOUS


Laura Leff·5:57 PM

So much so that (and I don't do this) just totally accepted her as Hopper (even knowing that was impossible) and never even thought about who the actress was.

Helen Mirren is amazing PERIOD.


Carole Lombard·5:57 PM

Only she could do that. I can never get into the films if I know who the real person was.


Laura Leff·5:57 PM

Even The Queen?


Carole Lombard·5:58 PM

The Queen is the queen. But Helen looks so much like her. I'd love to see the stage play. Hope they filmed it.


Laura Leff·5:58 PM

They did.

She was extraordinary.

So...bringing it back to the show for tonight...what other thoughts?


Carole Lombard·5:59 PM

Like "The King's Speech" - they looked nothing like the real ones. I mean..you know...Colin Firth. Mr. Darcy.  Can't really buy it, but marveled at how great they all were in that one.


Laura Leff·5:59 PM

I loved Mary's breakup at the end.


Matt·5:59 PM

I had to look up the name Barney Oldfield

That reference was over my head


Laura Leff·5:59 PM

Carole - Agreed.  And a lot of the folks in "Trumbo" didn't really look like the people (although Kirk had a definite cleft), but you just relax and buy it.

Matt - Fill me in on that one.  It had me scratching my head for a second.


Carole Lombard·6:00 PM

Wasn't he a race car driver?


Matt·6:00 PM

Something is said in tonight's episode about how Jack should turn his hat around---you're not Barney Oldfield. (I think Mary says)


Laura Leff·6:00 PM

I thought he was played by Don Knotts.   ;)


Carole Lombard·6:00 PM

I liked Dennis in the episode. He seemed much more relaxed and his song "Darn that Dream" was very good.


Laura Leff·6:01 PM

Matt - Yes, that was the line.


Carole Lombard·6:01 PM

Has anyone had one of the Day kids or grandkids on the chat?

There are so many of them...


Matt·6:01 PM

Dennis seems to be coming into his own with these episodes.


Carole Lombard·6:01 PM



Laura Leff·6:01 PM

I've talked and corresponded with them separately, but they haven't been here yet.

Yep, that's another reason I feel that these shows are a turning point.


Carole Lombard·6:02 PM

What's the story with Rochester's family? You'd think they'd love to talk about him.


Laura Leff·6:02 PM

Mary becomes much harder edge than her silly 30s "pest girl"

Phil really gets to be fully Phil, and Dennis is also settling into his character since it's his first season.


Carole Lombard·6:02 PM

I wonder if the writers made her that way deliberately or an attempt to make Dennis the silly one.


Steve Archer·6:02 PM

Carole, Eddie's wife and daughter do a commentary on the DVD of CABIN IN THE SKY - well worth listening to!


Carole Lombard·6:03 PM

I love that film. He was such a talent.


Laura Leff·6:03 PM

Jack often said that things happened on the show because the audience reacted well to them.  So if Mary being a you-know-what gets laughs, you go with it.


Steve Archer·6:03 PM

second wife, Eva, not Mamie


Matt·6:03 PM

I love at the end when they're told there's an auto camp 40 miles back and Jack's reaction.  Petulant/at-his-wit's-end Jack kills me.


Laura Leff·6:03 PM

Steve - Cool!


Carole Lombard·6:03 PM

Did Rochester ever socialize with the cast in real life?


Laura Leff·6:03 PM

Carole - A very good question, and a bit complicated.


Carole Lombard·6:03 PM

The race thing?


Laura Leff·6:04 PM

That was part of it...his house was based on Jack's, but built in the black neighborhood of LA


Carole Lombard·6:04 PM

I know Phil and Andy Devine were good friends of the Gables and went in with them on some property for a private club. Don't think it ever came off, though.

I didn't know about the house. That's fascinating.


Steve Archer·6:05 PM

I always get the impression that other than Jack and Mel, there wasn't a lot of social activity among the cast off-stage.


Laura Leff·6:05 PM

Rochester also had a lot of his own interests...he loved all things fast...cars, horses, boats, women...


Carole Lombard·6:05 PM

Oh myyyyyy


Laura Leff·6:05 PM

There's a bit I got in an interview I haven't published yet about his...ahem...tastes.


Carole Lombard·6:06 PM

Do tell!


Laura Leff·6:06 PM

Well, this is according to one person who knew him back when the interviewee was a shoeshine boy

And also knew the infamous and enigmatic Eddie Anderson Jr.

And it seems that it was known that a certain area of either Sunset or Hollywood Blvd. was the place to pick up young white girls.

You can fill in the rest.


Carole Lombard·6:07 PM



Matt·6:07 PM

Oh my


Laura Leff·6:07 PM

LOL..Yeah, huh...


Carole Lombard·6:08 PM

There are still areas of Sunset and Hollywood where you can pick them up...


Laura Leff·6:08 PM

But I've only got it from that one person.  So take it as you will

Carole - I'm sure.


Michael Amowitz·6:08 PM

Jello folks!


Michael Amowitz joined the room


Steve Archer·6:08 PM

Hi Mike!


Laura Leff·6:08 PM

Hey Mike!  My oh my what you just walked in on...


Carole Lombard·6:08 PM



Laura Leff·6:09 PM

So what else about the show for tonight?


Linda Cree·6:09 PM



Laura Leff·6:09 PM



Carole Lombard·6:09 PM

It makes me want to go to Yosemite.


Linda Cree·6:09 PM

With the cast!


Laura Leff·6:09 PM

But there's also the story about Rochester racing the train and bringing everyone ribs.

So that could be considered socializing of a sort.


Carole Lombard·6:10 PM

I wondered about that - with segregation - where did Roch stay on the train and how did he get into the "whites only" section?


Matt·6:10 PM

Rochester  had so many great lines in tonight's show.


Michael Amowitz·6:11 PM

Yes, LL, just catching up...how about that Eddie Anderson!


Laura Leff·6:11 PM

Carole - Well, I'm happy to finally have the details of where the story of the entire cast and crew leaving a hotel because Rochester was advised to stay elsewhere


Steve Archer·6:11 PM

I'm looking forward to the next chapter in the Yosemite saga


Carole Lombard·6:11 PM

Oh - spill, sister!


Laura Leff·6:11 PM

Michael - Hee hee hee!


Michael Amowitz·6:12 PM

Just watching mostly now...I'm late for dialysis (like Jack always almost misses his train) and I'm packing for a 2-day trip to Toronto :p


Linda Cree·6:12 PM

I was watching an old Larry King Live interview with Shirley Temple and she talks about Bill Robinson coming to her house but she never went to his.


Carole Lombard·6:12 PM

Isn't that sad?


Linda Cree·6:12 PM



Laura Leff·6:12 PM

So it was right here in San Francisco


Carole Lombard·6:13 PM

What??? Which hotel?


Laura Leff·6:13 PM

Jack and Co. were at the Fairmont


Matt·6:13 PM

Not in the south!


Carole Lombard·6:13 PM



Laura Leff·6:13 PM



Steve Archer·6:13 PM

Holy cow.  And I have spent many a blurry evening in the Tonga Room there!


Laura Leff·6:13 PM

And they suggested that Mr. Anderson might be more comfortable at the Mark Twain Hotel


Carole Lombard·6:13 PM

I lived in SF over the summer and I know that hotel very well.  What jerks.

What year was that?


Laura Leff·6:14 PM

And basically Jack said that if Eddie couldn't stay there, neither would they.  Not sure where they went, though.


Carole Lombard·6:14 PM

St. Francis?

Or Mark Hopkins, probably.


Laura Leff·6:14 PM

Oddly enough, I'd eaten dinner at the Mark Twain Hotel (a friend was a waiter there) just shortly before I got that info.


Carole Lombard·6:14 PM

How was it?


Michael Amowitz·6:14 PM



Laura Leff·6:14 PM

Mark Hopkins would have been most convenient being across the street, of course.


Carole Lombard·6:15 PM



Steve Archer·6:15 PM

There's a Fairmont in Seattle that is almost identical to the SF one.  No Tonga Room tho.


Laura Leff·6:15 PM

Carole - It was OK.  The dessert menu was uninspired.  But their Scotch list was wonderful!

Steve - Nuts!

Carole - My friend left there not soon thereafter.

HipChat·6:15 PM

Hi @JAYHOPKINS! Welcome to Hipchat. You can @-mention me by typing @HipChat and I'll tell you what HipChat can do!


Laura Leff·6:16 PM

Hi Jay!


Carole Lombard·6:16 PM

Nice! I hate what they did to the Top O' the Mark in the late 90s.

Hi, Jay!


JAY HOPKINS joined the room


Steve Archer·6:16 PM

Hi Jay


Carole Lombard·6:16 PM

Is Eddie Anderson, Jr. still alive? And how many kids did Rochester have?


Laura Leff·6:16 PM

Carole - I didn't know it much before then, so I don't have anything to compare.


Carole Lombard·6:16 PM

It was incredible in the early 90s. Black leather booths, very 1940s.


Laura Leff·6:16 PM

Eddie Anderson Jr. seems to no longer be alive.  He had two others--boy and girl.


Carole Lombard·6:17 PM

I was in college, then, and we used to go up there a lot.


Linda Cree·6:17 PM

There were hotels in NYC that Nat King Cole could perform at but  they wouldn't let him stay there.


Carole Lombard·6:17 PM

Racism is disgusting!



Hi, Steve. I wish to thank Laura in the flesh...well, not too much flesh, of course...for sending me a number of Benny Shows on DVD. She's diligent and, in my view, a SWELL gal.


Laura Leff·6:17 PM

You know, I'm going to date myself, but I was born in 1969.  So I never experienced segregation first-hand.  But it blows me away of the things you hear about it.

Thank you so much, Jay!  My pleasure to help! :)


Carole Lombard·6:18 PM

I have a year on you, but I have black friends who still experience it.



I was born in 1956. One of my favorite pastimes was watching JB as a kid.


Laura Leff·6:18 PM

Carole - That's a fair statement, depending on where you are and who you are with.


Michael Amowitz·6:18 PM

I was around long enough to feel it and see it...it was very pervasive and had the feel of social pressure to conform to norms or suffer


Steve Archer·6:18 PM

Are you sure Eddie Anderson Jr. passed away?  I just looked and he's on LinkedIn!


Michael Amowitz·6:18 PM

Best way to describe it


Laura Leff·6:18 PM

Steve - Hmmmm


Steve Archer·6:19 PM



Laura Leff·6:19 PM

Wait...I think I have my wires crossed.  Billy Anderson was his older son, I believe.

Thanks for calling me on that.


Michael Amowitz·6:19 PM

It took the same amount of gradual social pressure to break it down and eventually destroy it


Carole Lombard·6:19 PM

I love that Jack evolved the Rochester character away from the more stereotyped black character after WW2.

Was Billy the son of his first wife?


Laura Leff·6:20 PM

Then again, not to get political, but we still have the Black Lives Matter movement today.  So there are certainly still issues.

Carole - That's right.  The other two were with his second wife.


Carole Lombard·6:20 PM

Did Rochester ever get grief in the late 60s? I would see the character as a trail blazer. He wasn't subservient, he was subversive.


Laura Leff·6:20 PM

Yes, there's a quote that Jack did about racism that I try to put up on the Web site every MLK Day.


Steve Archer·6:20 PM

Mamie Anderson passed away during the show's run, right?




Laura Leff, outside of a chat like like, is sort of mysterious character to me. We all know that she does this as goodness out of her heart. Just amazing, to me. Six months is okay with me, for goodness from the heart.


Laura Leff·6:21 PM

Yes...I don't have an exact year, but Mamie passed away pretty young.


Carole Lombard·6:21 PM

She was very pretty.


Steve Archer·6:21 PM

I thought early or mid 1950s.  Then he married Eva in the sixties sometime.


Matt·6:21 PM

I think it was around 1954.  I've noticed that in the shows in that time period, Rochester looks much heavier than usual.



"Like this." I don't write clean when I'm happy.


Carole Lombard·6:22 PM

I wonder why he wore that toupee? It didn't look very real.


Laura Leff·6:22 PM

I try to stay a little on the enigmatic side.   :)


Carole Lombard·6:23 PM

I watched the New Year's show on New Year's eve. We timed it so when Jack's clock went off and they drank champagne, our clock went off and we toasted Jack and Roch.  I love that show, even if it is a remake of the radio one. It shows them together on the couch, drinking together.



I'm still here. How many JB CBS was George Burns on?


Laura Leff·6:23 PM

Steve - That sounds right.  I'd have to look through my notes.  But I heard a while back from someone who hitchhiked with them through Mexico.

Had photos from the trip!


Steve Archer·6:23 PM

And Roch's heart attack was not that long thereafter, I imagine he had a lot of stress.


Laura Leff·6:23 PM

Jay - How many of the CBS television shows was George on?

Roch's heart attack was in 1958 when they were filming the "Shower of Stars" Jack Benny's 40th Birthday.



I didn't write all caps for my name. Yes, Laura...that's the question.


Laura Leff·6:24 PM

Hmmm...I'll look it up.


Linda Cree·6:24 PM

The TV episode that really lifts my spirits is the Jam Session.


Carole Lombard·6:25 PM

Who is in that one?


Steve Archer·6:25 PM

Fred MacMurray, Kirk Douglas


Linda Cree·6:25 PM



Carole Lombard·6:25 PM

Was Tony Martin on that one?


Laura Leff·6:25 PM

Jay - Ten episodes.  None during the NBC run.



Interesting that Laura mention Anderson because I read that JB was quite upset about that. As one might assume, JB was such a fine man.

TEN? I did not know that. Interesting.

The NBC run was one year, correct?


Laura Leff·6:26 PM

That's right...1964-65.


Steve Archer·6:27 PM

Well, that would be the season after Gracie died, George seemed to take a little down time after that.


Laura Leff·6:27 PM

Say, for folks that came to the chat a bit later...any comments on the Yosemite show for tonight?


Linda Cree·6:27 PM

Yes, Carole.



The thing that "kills" me about the Hope show is that the editing involves different audiences. Not difficult audiences...different audiences.


Carole Lombard·6:28 PM

Where did the idea come from? Was it based on anything in real life - or just that they were in the Bay Area and what if they went to Yosemite?


Matt·6:29 PM

Was that the first time they did a multi-part storyline?


Laura Leff·6:29 PM

Carole - I think my brain is getting rusty...I feel like I know that, but it's not coming clearly to mind.  I remember theories on it, but I don't want to cite them and be wrong.



And...there's NOTHING worse...than a rusty brain.


Carole Lombard·6:30 PM

I can't really imagine Mary going somewhere like that, unless it's to the Ahwahnee Hotel and staying there.


Laura Leff·6:30 PM

Matt - Not really...depends on what you call a multi-part storyline.  They would do "Who Killed Mr. X?" or "Grind Hotel" back in the 30s, which were variations on a theme.

It FEELS like the Ahwanee Hotel exchanged publicity for a stay there, since the product placement is so clear.

But all the shows were done in LA.


Steve Archer·6:31 PM

So, not to start one of those "put Jack's cast in the movies" things, but for trivia's sake, the Ahawahnee Hotel -interiors- inspired the Overlook Hotel in THE SHINING



All interesting.


Laura Leff·6:31 PM

And it being in February, they wouldn't have had a break since the fall to go up there.


Carole Lombard·6:31 PM

Did they really do the payola-type thing? I know there was the joke about not having to pay for hotels  and the joke about getting free stuff, but I thought it was a dig at other people.


Laura Leff·6:32 PM

Steve - You know, that's right!  One of the members did an article on it in the Times a while back.

Carole - Well, let's put it this way... :)


Carole Lombard·6:32 PM

'Nuff said...


Laura Leff·6:32 PM

When I interviewed John Tackaberry's son, he told me they had a multi-car garage


Carole Lombard·6:32 PM



Laura Leff·6:32 PM

One of the garages was for all the free stuff they were continually getting.



Jack had sponsors, of course. Hope and Jack would cross-reference sponsors, as we know.


Carole Lombard·6:33 PM

No Maxwells, I take it?


Linda Cree·6:33 PM

Yeah, remember Jack saying The May Company ought to be sending them free stuff.


Laura Leff·6:33 PM

Like the line "Rochester, go up and turn on my General Electric blanket."


Steve Archer·6:33 PM

Linda, they did - Mary! (rimshot)


Carole Lombard·6:33 PM

We ain't got a blanket.


Laura Leff·6:33 PM

"But boss, you don't have one."


Carole Lombard·6:33 PM

We do now!


Laura Leff·6:33 PM

"I do now!"



Carole Lombard·6:33 PM




"Jello," it's me, Jack Benny.


Carole Lombard·6:33 PM

Those writers were very clever


Linda Cree·6:34 PM

Good one, Steve!


Laura Leff·6:34 PM

Well, you all know what happened when the sponsor sent over a multi-tiered Jell-O "cake"


Carole Lombard·6:34 PM

Jack didn't really eat Jello, right? Did they get free cigarettes from Lucky Strikes and Grape Nuts Flakes?

A cake?



Laura Leff·6:34 PM

Or was purported to have happened



Groucho does that line in A Night at the Opera, "Play, Don."


Laura Leff·6:34 PM

Jack didn't smoke cigarettes...he liked a cigar with a green wrapper.


Carole Lombard·6:34 PM

"Who sent this crap?" from the cook? Is that true?


Steve Archer·6:35 PM

I think Joan talks about them having cartons of Luckies around but yes, Jack smoked cigars and Mary smoked Parliaments.


Carole Lombard·6:35 PM

Must have given them to friends.


Laura Leff·6:35 PM

Carole - I don't know for sure.  I'd think that any cook in Beverly Hills would have more presence of mind than that.


Carole Lombard·6:35 PM

You'd think...


Michael Amowitz·6:35 PM

No time to comment much here ... multitasking here and thought I'd be at dialysis 4 hours ago :p


Laura Leff·6:35 PM

Jack had to have a special clause in his American Tobacco contract to allow Mary to smoke any brand she wanted!


Michael Amowitz·6:35 PM

But I've never been to Yosemite :)



Laura Leff·6:36 PM

Michael - As long as you're enjoying, that's most important.  Just happy to have you here.


Michael Amowitz·6:36 PM

Life is always interesting, and so is this chat :D


Laura Leff·6:36 PM

I've not been to Yosemite yet either.  Have to remedy that one of these days!

Michael - :D



Burns, of course, preferred the rubber tip. On The Big Show with Cantor, Benny, and Jessel, George is whiping the cigar paper from his mouth. George disliked that. Always natty.


Carole Lombard·6:36 PM

Did they do any magazine ads for Lucky Strike or Grape Nuts? I've seen the Jello recipe books.  Yosemite is amazing.


Steve Archer·6:37 PM

Definitely for Luckies Carole.


Laura Leff·6:37 PM

Yeah, George said that he preferred 75-cent cigars because when he put them in his holder, they tasted the same anyway.


Linda Cree·6:37 PM

Back in the Fall, Graeme and I went to Mount Rushmore, so I can now check that off my bucket list.


Laura Leff·6:37 PM

Carole - Grape Nuts yes, I've seen those.


Carole Lombard·6:37 PM

Really? They weren't with them all that long - what? - three years or so?


Laura Leff·6:38 PM

Let's see...1942 to 1944

Until some jerk from GF shot his mouth off to Jack.



I think that George liked Old Masters. "Give Me A Real Good Cigar."


Linda Cree·6:38 PM

Yosemite is still on my list.


Carole Lombard·6:38 PM

So they were the sponsors that Jack told to shove it while on the train?


Laura Leff·6:38 PM

Hi Yht!


Yhtap Mys joined the room


Michael Amowitz·6:38 PM

Hi Yht ... got to most national parks but never that one ...yet


Laura Leff·6:39 PM

Carole - A bit of an exaggeration.  Some guy from GF told Jack to "watch it" because his ratings were slipping


Yhtap Mys·6:39 PM

Hi, Laura. Hipchat's a bloody pain.


Michael Amowitz·6:39 PM

wb yht


Laura Leff·6:39 PM

Glad you finally made it, Yht!


Michael Amowitz·6:39 PM

and yes it is

and re wb yht


Laura Leff·6:39 PM

Sorry for any issues you had!  Feel free to contact me later with any errors/issues you were encountering.



Who, who...it yht? I guess, I guess that I'm not part of the club.


Steve Archer·6:39 PM

hi yhtap


Carole Lombard·6:40 PM

Amazing that they had the cajones to tell Jack Benny to watch it.


Yhtap Mys·6:40 PM

I got logged on to a subscriber list while I arrived. Oh well.


Laura Leff·6:40 PM

Eh, I've known many executives who think they're so powerful that they can say anything to anyone.


Carole Lombard·6:40 PM

Yhtap is here to drive our blues away.



We all want to be inclusive here, so I'm leaving. ;-)


Laura Leff·6:40 PM




I finally got a laugh.


Linda Cree·6:41 PM

It's hard to imagine because Jack's show was tops!


Laura Leff·6:41 PM

Exhibit A...James Aubrey


Carole Lombard·6:41 PM

God, he was a piece of work.



That's like Groucho's line, "Hello, I must be going."


Laura Leff·6:41 PM

Well, the audience was changing during WWII.


Carole Lombard·6:42 PM

Lucky Strike was very happy with Jack, I'm sure.


Laura Leff·6:42 PM

Hope was on the rise, and I'd have to look up who else was getting popular, and people just weren't listening to Jack as much as they were in the late 30s.


Carole Lombard·6:42 PM



Laura Leff·6:42 PM

Oh yeah, they loved Jack.  At least until the late 50s.


Carole Lombard·6:43 PM

That's hard to imagine because the shows were so good.  I still prefer the Morrow/Beloin shows though. But I have to say, the Ronald Colman era was great.


Steve Archer·6:43 PM

Speaking of the sponsors, one of the "lost episodes" is that switch from Luckies to Lux - but there are rerferences to Luckies all over the place, I'd be curious if they had to work out some deal for that


Laura Leff·6:43 PM

See, Jack was #1 in 1940-41 and #5 in 1941-42


Linda Cree·6:43 PM

Jack's show still holds up today and so many modern comedians idolize him.



Hope was famous for loving Jack Benny. Hope is a study, but does anyone know of anyone who didn't like Jack Benny?


Laura Leff·6:44 PM

Steve - I wondered about that too.


Carole Lombard·6:44 PM

Anyone know what happened to those missing episodes in the early 40s? I keep seeing holes. Were they really lost or just not in circulation?


Laura Leff·6:44 PM

41-42 has Charlie McCarty, Fibber McGee and Molly, Walter Winchell, and Bob Hope ahead of him.



You cats know your ratings.


Carole Lombard·6:44 PM

....Winchell? Seriously? OMG.


Laura Leff·6:45 PM

Carole - Well, most of the recordings we have are from Jack's transcriptions.  So it's possible that the transcriptions were broken, unplayable, missing, etc.

Yeah, tell that to Ben Bernie...



Still here. Warming the cab.


Carole Lombard·6:45 PM

Harry Conn didn't like Jack. At least not after he got the boot.


Laura Leff·6:45 PM

Well, he (Conn) had to soften on that too.



Cohn. That makes sense, yes.


Carole Lombard·6:46 PM

I didn't know the surviving shows are Jack's transcriptions! I wonder what happened? Were the copies in his contract? They were very expensive back in the day. I think Vincent Price said they cost around $50 each to get on disc.


Laura Leff·6:46 PM

Jack stayed #5 through 43-44, and then tied for 7th in 44-45.



Even Harry Cohn, post-mortem, decided that he "liked Jack Benny."


Carole Lombard·6:47 PM

Probably realized how wrong he'd been.


Laura Leff·6:47 PM

Well, Jack was eventually the only one buying material from him after he became a theatre doorman.

And you're right that Skelton was ahead of Jack in 42-44.


Graeme Cree joined the room


Matt·6:48 PM

Wasn't Fibber McGee and Molly ahead of Jack in that period?


Carole Lombard·6:48 PM

That was very kind of him.  It's amazing, though, that there was so little turnover on the show, and everyone who left (except Phil) left because they thought they would do better elsewhere (Kenny, Conn). I wold never have left that gig.


Laura Leff·6:48 PM

What I was told was that a copy was made for Jack, a copy for the sponsor, and a copy for someone who had contributed significantly to the show.  So it might go to Dennis, Phil, a writer, etc.



If this place was the "I Like" instead of "The International" Jack Benny Fan Club, the doors would be already busted over.


Laura Leff·6:48 PM

Matt - Sure was.  Ahead of him in 44-45 as well.


Carole Lombard·6:48 PM

That was really expensive. Did Phil leave because he was under contract with his own show and couldn't work for CBS?

Or was it too much of a strain?


Laura Leff·6:49 PM

Carole - Well, it depends on whom you ask.


Graeme Cree·6:49 PM

I heard that they simply couldn't afford him any more, with the radio budget going down, and mutually decided to split.


Steve Archer·6:49 PM



Carole Lombard·6:49 PM

What is your expert opinion - because you would know better than anyone alive - except perhaps for the Harris girls.


Laura Leff·6:49 PM

You probably know the story about Phil being only on the first half of the show and then running through the alleys to warm up the audience for his own show


Carole Lombard·6:49 PM



Yhtap Mys·6:49 PM

CBS could have had him but they wouldn't move Amos and Andy out of the time slot.



I think that most folks like the radio Benny shows more that the television shows. Is that true within this chat group?


Carole Lombard·6:50 PM

Yes, Jay. Definitely.


Graeme Cree·6:50 PM

You'd think the TV show would be better, but it's not.


Matt·6:50 PM

I much prefer the radio shows.  The TV shows always seem lacking because most of them don't have the "old gang" there.


Laura Leff·6:50 PM

Well, Marty found some documents that inferred that Phil might have thought he'd be the top comedy draw for NBC when Paley was raiding.

It depends on which TV shows and which radio shows.



Interesting. I like the TV shows, but the radio stuff is gold.


Linda Cree·6:50 PM

Agreed, Jay.


Graeme Cree·6:51 PM

I never understood where CBS got all the cash for that raid, if they weren't on top.


Carole Lombard·6:51 PM

Well, Phil's show was one of the best things I've ever heard - at least when Chevillet and Singer were writing them.


Steve Archer·6:51 PM

I think of it as all one big "Jack Benny Program".  There are some TV episodes that are terrific, and some radio shows that tank.


Laura Leff·6:51 PM

It's been asserted that Phil thought he should have had a share of the money Jack got when selling Amusement Enterprises to CBS



NBC raided CBS. Remember John Guedel? He told me a story about wanting to go with NBC w8th Groucho.


Graeme Cree·6:52 PM

Oddly, Phil's show is more the Phil and Elliot show than the Phil and Alice show.


Carole Lombard·6:52 PM

I think one of the writers put their finger on it when they said that everyone had their own idea of what the sets and the cast looked like. And it was hard to replicate the more outlandish things in radio.


Laura Leff·6:52 PM

It's also been alleged that Mary had grown increasingly paranoid of Phil and was telling Jack that he needed to get rid of him because Phil was trying to take over the show.


Carole Lombard·6:52 PM


I'm staring to think Phil might be the mysterious Quentin you've mentioned.


Steve Archer·6:53 PM

Huh, that's a new one to me Laura!



I'm always interesting in stories about Mary. George didn't like her. Duh.


Graeme Cree·6:53 PM

Not every bad rumor about Mary is true.  That one seems doubtful.


Laura Leff·6:53 PM

No.  Phil was only there from 1936 to 1952.



"Interested." Duh, again. ;-)


Carole Lombard·6:53 PM

Not Donsy?


Graeme Cree·6:53 PM

Phil was going the other direction by the end.  Had his own show, reduced role on Jack's show resulting.



Carole Lombard·6:53 PM

Of course you can't say, but who else?





Carole Lombard·6:53 PM

I love Donsy


Laura Leff·6:54 PM

I think all the regular cast was at Jack's funeral.



Fat jokes.


Carole Lombard·6:54 PM

Was Quentin a cast member?

It's driving me crazy trying to figure that one out.


Graeme Cree·6:54 PM

Quentin Collins?


Laura Leff·6:54 PM

Phil told me himself that he wanted to ramp down his work to focus more on the family.


Carole Lombard·6:54 PM

So jealous you met Phil.



Sonebody mentioned "fat jokes" to me in relation to Wilson. Don appeared to take it in stride. Who knows?


Laura Leff·6:55 PM

I have a theory on who Quentin was, and if I am correct, he was not a regular cast member.


Carole Lombard·6:55 PM

I think  he said he didn't care, as long as they paid him.

He's on so many other shows of that era! Nice of Jack not to keep him under an exclusive contract.


Laura Leff·6:55 PM

Don's a real enigma.  As much or more so than Eddie Anderson.



Yes, Carole, that's what Wilson said. Interesting.


Matt·6:55 PM

Why is Don an enigma?


Laura Leff·6:56 PM

If you haven't already seen them, check out the Facebook page for great clips on his various divorces.


Carole Lombard·6:56 PM

Nice interview with Don on Those Were the Days.  Dennis, Elliot, Frank Nelson, and some of the other crew as well.


Laura Leff·6:56 PM

He just didn't socialize with anyone.  No one knew much about him.


Matt·6:56 PM

Oh yeah, he was married like 4 times.


Graeme Cree·6:56 PM

He seems like a great guy, but was married 4 times.  Either he's hard to get along with, or didn't pick 'em very well.


Carole Lombard·6:56 PM

Yeah, what's the deal with all the wives?


Graeme Cree·6:56 PM

I favor the latter theory.


Yhtap Mys·6:56 PM

The 3rd wife was a real prize. She was divorced again in 1955.


Graeme Cree·6:56 PM

After all, he did finally get it right.


Carole Lombard·6:57 PM

Lois was a great actress. I hear her a lot and am really impressed. I heard a Halls of Ivy yesterday and she played a racist woman. She was so good.



I think there was anger there, Matt. I certainly don't know this. They made so much fun of him on the CBS TV show, certainly. Perhaps Don took this in stride. Hope so.


Carole Lombard·6:57 PM

She's on Phil's show a lot, too.


Linda Cree·6:57 PM

Halls of Ivy is great.


Matt·6:57 PM

Aside from Lois, I don't remember them mentioning any of Don's other wives on air.


Carole Lombard·6:57 PM

Oh, yeah. The writing is excellent.


Laura Leff·6:57 PM

Yht - Yeah, was she the one who got married to someone else the day after her divorce from Don was final?


Carole Lombard·6:57 PM

I remember hearing Peggy mentioned on the air.

The one who was just married when they all dropped in.


Laura Leff·6:58 PM

I'm envisioning Don being married to Peggy Mondo.   :)


Yhtap Mys·6:58 PM

No, that was Kent, I think,


Graeme Cree·6:58 PM

"We loooove the Halllllls of Ivy.... Especially Mrs. Hallllll."


Carole Lombard·6:58 PM

She is divine! I love Benita.

She's the best thing on that show.


Yhtap Mys·6:58 PM

The Countess was dating Ingrid Bergman's ex right after the divorce.


Laura Leff·6:58 PM

Yht - There ya go.


Carole Lombard·6:58 PM

No! Yhtap! Really?



Laura Leff·6:58 PM

And that wasn't Larry Adler.


Yhtap Mys·6:58 PM



Carole Lombard·6:58 PM

Did Ingrid and Larry really have an affair?


Graeme Cree·6:59 PM

It's not called an affair with Larry, it's a harmonic convergence.


Laura Leff·6:59 PM

I'm flashing back to Larry telling me the story about Mary related to that.

Graeme - Wah wah wah wahhhhhhh


Carole Lombard·6:59 PM

You have just won the internet.

You met Larry Adler? Where?


Laura Leff·6:59 PM

Is that a good thing?


Carole Lombard·6:59 PM

It can be.


Steve Archer·6:59 PM

LOL Laura


Laura Leff·6:59 PM

I interviewed him in his flat in London, and then he drove me to dinner!


Carole Lombard·6:59 PM

I lived there. Where did he live?


Laura Leff·7:00 PM

It was...uh...scary!



"Check, please." I've seen so many inside references here that my eyeballs are cross-eyed from the inside.


Carole Lombard·7:00 PM

His driving?


Laura Leff·7:00 PM



Carole Lombard·7:00 PM

Wrong side of the road?


Laura Leff·7:00 PM

Yeah, he was up there in years at the time.

Not that bad.


Carole Lombard·7:00 PM

Oh, dear. I hope you had a cocktail.

How did you manage to get that interview? When was it?


Laura Leff·7:00 PM

It was an interesting evening.


Carole Lombard·7:00 PM

Did you record any of your interviews?


Laura Leff·7:01 PM

Back in 1998.  He and I had corresponded for years.


Carole Lombard·7:01 PM



Laura Leff·7:01 PM

Yah...I published that one in the Times a while back.  One of these days, I need to consolidate a volume of just the interviewes.



Matt·7:01 PM

So what was the story about Mary related to that?


Laura Leff·7:01 PM

Ah...let's see...



"My eyeballs are cross-eyed from the inside." Nothing.


Laura Leff·7:01 PM

So Larry and his girlfriend at the time were with Jack and Mary

Sorry, Jay!

And they decided to go to dinner...Jack driving Larry's girlfriend and Larry driving Mary.



When I was in Altoona...


Michael Amowitz·7:02 PM

I remember Larry's widow from the JB event ..


Laura Leff·7:02 PM

And on the way, Mary asked Larry, "When you were on the USO tour, did Jack cheat?"


Michael Amowitz·7:02 PM

Must go ... so late ... Happy Month y'all!


Laura Leff·7:02 PM

Michael - That was Larry Stevens.

Be well, Michael!


Steve Archer·7:03 PM

bye Mike!


Carole Lombard·7:03 PM

She asked that?


Laura Leff·7:03 PM

She did!


Michael Amowitz·7:03 PM

lol, oops, saw Larry...wasn't following


Carole Lombard·7:03 PM



Michael Amowitz·7:03 PM

Just the series of wives and ex-0wives :D


Graeme Cree·7:03 PM

Larry:  "Not with ME!!!"


Laura Leff·7:03 PM

And Larry said to her, "You know, if you weren't Jack's wife, I'd put you out of this car right now!"


Michael Amowitz·7:03 PM

lol Graeme


Carole Lombard·7:03 PM

Good for him.


Michael Amowitz·7:03 PM

I forgot that one


Carole Lombard·7:03 PM

I have to ask....did Jack have an affair with Ann Sheridan?


Laura Leff·7:03 PM

So then a short while later

Larry was driving down the street, and Mary pulled up next to him...I think they may have both been in convertibles


Michael Amowitz·7:04 PM

LL I'll hopefully see the transcript later



This this club accept old, frozen Minnesota gentlemen? Just touching base for Nannok, you know.


Michael Amowitz left the room (user disconnected)


Laura Leff·7:04 PM

And Mary shouted some very inappropriate, overly personal question about Larry and Ingrid Bergman. (I've never seen it quoted.)



"Does" Difficult to type with the mittens on.


Laura Leff·7:05 PM

Jay - I take it you're the frozen Minnesota gentleman then!

So yes, Larry and Ingrid were an item.  But as far as I know, they were both single at the time.



Mary Benny. I hear she was difficult. But...thin!


Carole Lombard·7:05 PM

Wow. That's weird behavior.


Laura Leff·7:05 PM

Larry said that he couldn't marry her because he couldn't stand being "Mr. Ingrid Bergman."


Carole Lombard·7:06 PM

That's a shame.


Steve Archer·7:06 PM

Ya know, there are WORSE things to be!


Laura Leff·7:06 PM

Yes, but Larry had quite an ego on him.


Graeme Cree·7:06 PM

He needed to get a transfusion from Gary Morton.


Laura Leff·7:06 PM



Steve Archer·7:06 PM

LOL Graeme


Yhtap Mys·7:07 PM

Yeah. Mr.  Ingrid Krausmeyer.



It would be interesting if an honest Jack Benny bio came out.


Laura Leff·7:07 PM

So Jack and Ann Sheridan.



Sheridan, yes.


Laura Leff·7:07 PM

Yes, maybe when I'm retired!

Mary supposedly went up to her at a party and snapped, "I have more sex appeal in my little finger than you have in your whole body!"



Laura, please come out with an honest JB book.


Carole Lombard·7:08 PM

I heard about that.  They have that show where Jack supposedly kisses Ann. I thought if it were true, that would be kind of cruel to Mary if she knew about it.


Laura Leff·7:08 PM

I hope to some day!  But I need to make a living right now.



Ha ha.


Laura Leff·7:08 PM

Well, that's a mixed bag.

There's a story that Mary said to Jack that she didn't care if he messed around, as long as she didn't find out about it.

And when George Burns had a fling, he went to Jack for advice on what to do when Gracie found out.


Carole Lombard·7:08 PM

That's interesting...



Yes, I read that. Same of the beloved Gracie.


Laura Leff·7:09 PM

And one of the writers wives' said to me, "They ALL messed around.  That's just what was done in those days!"

And on that story of Larry Adler and Mary, he (completely without prompting from me) added,


Graeme Cree·7:09 PM

I bet they didn't all.

The people who did wanted it to be unanimous so they wouldn't feel too bad.


Laura Leff·7:10 PM

"And if you REALLY want to know, he DID and if I was married to her, I WOULD HAVE TOO!"



It sort of infringes upon the image. "Sort of"?


Carole Lombard·7:10 PM


Makes you wonder why they stayed together, after Joan grew up.


Laura Leff·7:10 PM

Jack didn't believe in divorce.



We can all now make jokes about his rubber tips. Thank you and good night.


Laura Leff·7:11 PM

He told someone, who told me, that "When people don't love each other, you don't get divorced.  You just find ways of leading separate lives."

Or words to that effect.



Yes. Jack did not believe in divorce. Mary, I think, was difficult.


Laura Leff·7:12 PM

Mary was definitely difficult in many different ways.


Graeme Cree·7:12 PM

Leading separate lives is divorce in all but name.


Carole Lombard·7:12 PM

He must have loved her in some way...those red roses after he died.


Laura Leff·7:12 PM

Yes, I think he felt kind of responsible for her.



Oh yes. I hate the story in Burn's book about brushing Mary aside in order to see his dying friend.


Steve Archer·7:12 PM

Divorce was so much of a bigger deal back then


Laura Leff·7:13 PM

A lawyer for Jack's estate told me that there was a joke popular in Hollywood in the 40s or 50s

That Jack and Mary were driving to Palm Springs



The Burns and Benny relationship is a famous one, of course.


Laura Leff·7:13 PM

And they find themselves behind a truck full of bales of hay


Graeme Cree·7:13 PM

It was much harder to get.  You had to claim something terrible about the other person.  Some people lied to get a divorce, but others probably weren't willing to.


Laura Leff·7:14 PM

Then the truck comes to a bump, and promptly drops the load all over Jack and Mary.

And it was the first time in 30 years that Jack and Mary were in the hay together.


Matt·7:14 PM



Carole Lombard·7:14 PM

Ouch again





Steve Archer·7:14 PM




Very good, Laura.


Laura Leff·7:14 PM

Well, when Bob Hope asked Dolores for a divorce to mary Marilyn Maxwell, she wouldn't give it to him.


Matt·7:15 PM

They would have had to have found Bob and Dolores's marriage record first.


Laura Leff·7:15 PM

So I'm sure that Mary would have strongly resisted divorcing Jack, if the possibility ever arose.



Benny: <pause> "Give......what?"


Carole Lombard·7:15 PM

He wanted to marry Marilyn Maxwell? I never knew that.

I guess Mary liked being Mrs. Benny.


Laura Leff·7:15 PM

Supposedly.  Feel free to double-check that.


Graeme Cree·7:15 PM

Marilyn Maxwell was unofficially known as Mrs. Bob Hope.


Matt·7:16 PM

That's the story in the Arthur Marx book.


Carole Lombard·7:16 PM

You learn something new every day.


Laura Leff·7:16 PM

Hey, who wouldn't like becoming accustomed to living in that style?


Carole Lombard·7:16 PM

And the friends you'd have.



I think that Burns, Hope, and the beloved Jack Benny were as close as dried onions.


Laura Leff·7:16 PM

That would all leave as soon as Jack died.


Graeme Cree·7:17 PM

Now, in the Bob Crosby blowup, June claimed that he threatened to cut her off without a cent, but you couldn't really do that, could you?


Carole Lombard·7:17 PM

Wasn't she friends with Nancy Reagain?


Laura Leff·7:17 PM

Jay - Trying to figure out if that means really close or the opposite.


Graeme Cree·7:17 PM

You have assets, you split them, and a judge decides what the alimony is.



Benny and Hope were Republicans and close to Reagan.


Laura Leff·7:17 PM

Carole - She was indeed.  Had lunch with Nancy on the last day of her life.  Nancy said that Mary didn't look good and should see a doctor.

Jay - True, but Jack was also good friends with Truman, Kennedy, and Stevenson.  He was bipartisan.


Graeme Cree·7:18 PM

Hope was Republican, not sure about Jack.  He seemed more Apolitical with leanings to the Democrats.



Laura - no, you're correct, Simmering onions.


Laura Leff·7:18 PM

Graeme - I know what divorce laws in California are now, but not sure what they were then.

They were as close as a moose and his hatrack.


Yhtap Mys·7:19 PM

Laura, yeah, the divorce with Peggy Kent was final Dec. 3rd. She remarried Dec. 5th.


Graeme Cree·7:19 PM

Peggy is the weird one.  Don was, what?  Her 4th husband, and she was in her early 20's at the time?


Laura Leff·7:19 PM

Yht - Women.  Geez.   ;)


La donna e mobile...


Graeme Cree·7:19 PM

How did Don not see that that was bad news?


Steve Archer·7:20 PM

Wasn't there some kind of Hungarian or Polish Princess in the mix for Don as well (sorry if this is all over facebook - I don't do that)


Graeme Cree·7:20 PM

Yeah, she was #3.



"Hello. This is Don Wilson. Buy Candygrams."


Laura Leff·7:21 PM

Well, my father got sucked into a situation like that.  The woman wasn't that young, but had cleaned out two men and told this big sob story about how much they abused her.  When you're telling an insecure man what he wants to hear, sometimes logic is forsaken.



Well...Don! If you can't get OUT of a chair...forget about it.


Laura Leff·7:22 PM

Not sure if that was Don's situation, but my data point.



And I worked with this man for forty years.

Again, I defer to Laura.


Linda Cree·7:22 PM

I wonder how many marriages Peggy had in her lifetime.


Laura Leff·7:22 PM

So we're nearing the 2 1/2 hour mark...what else Benny-wise is on folks' minds?


Graeme Cree·7:23 PM

Didn't she re-marry days after divorcing Don?


Linda Cree·7:23 PM



Laura Leff·7:23 PM

It's a rip-roaring chat and I don't want to kill the conversation, just checking in.


Graeme Cree·7:23 PM

Well, that makes 5 and counting.

She was young, maybe she beat Liz Taylor.


Laura Leff·7:23 PM

Not a distinction I'd want.


Linda Cree·7:23 PM

And Mickey Rooney!



"Rip roaring"?


Laura Leff·7:23 PM

I mean that in a good way.


Steve Archer·7:23 PM

I'm looking forward to reading the scripts from Kathy that you posted Laura - haven't had the time to dive in yet, but how fun!


Laura Leff·7:24 PM

Yeah!  And she's been at UCLA this week photographing more!



Who was ripped and who was roaring?...


Steve Archer·7:24 PM

So great those will be/are available.  Did Mary's first show script ever turn up?


Laura Leff·7:24 PM

It was probably me roaring...I'm told my voice carries.

Steve - Yes...I published it in the Times in 2011 I think.


Carole Lombard·7:25 PM

What is at UCLA besides the scripts? I went there and worked in the archive in the 90s. I didn't know about the Benny collection.


Linda Cree·7:25 PM

Kathy said she had 5,000 pages worth.


Laura Leff·7:25 PM

She found it in the Library of Congres I believe!


Steve Archer·7:25 PM

Ah, super - I had forgotten that.


Graeme Cree·7:25 PM

I have a feeling Mary's first script would seem anti-climatic.  We could read the lines but it wouldn't feel like her talking.



It's been fun to be part of this chat, folks. Thank you so much.


Laura Leff·7:26 PM

Carole - Jack left a lot of stuff there in 1968.  So there are many papers, letters, photographs, etc.  I haven't even had time to go over all of it.


Carole Lombard·7:26 PM

I wish I'd known!!


Laura Leff·7:26 PM

Thank you Jay!  Come back again!


Carole Lombard·7:26 PM

Night, Jay!


Laura Leff·7:26 PM

Yeah...maybe if I get a long well-paying gig, I'll take a long break after and go to LA for a while to play in the archives.



Take care, all.


Carole Lombard·7:26 PM

I wonder what was going on in 68 that made that the time Jack donated it? Tax break?


Laura Leff·7:27 PM

I believe so.  I'd have to look up the article I found regarding it.


Matt·7:27 PM

I wonder how much material from his vaudeville years are in those papers.


Laura Leff·7:28 PM

Actually, the vaudeville joke idea book I published in the most recent Times I found in the Wyoming collection!


Carole Lombard·7:28 PM

What's in Wyoming?


Graeme Cree·7:28 PM

Devil's Tower.

Jellystone Park.


Steve Archer·7:28 PM

That was a lot of fun Laura - glad you put it in the Times.


Laura Leff·7:28 PM

Anything that was left after Mary's death.  So everything from 1968 to 1974, plus an assortment of other things that were previously missedl.


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Laura Leff·7:29 PM

Steve - Thanks for that.  I wasn't sure if it would resonate with others the way it does with me!


Carole Lombard·7:29 PM

I wonder how Wyoming ended up with it? Interesting.


Laura Leff·7:29 PM

Well, Joan looked into donating it to UCLA

But she would have had to do a bunch of paperwork and pay a bunch of fees.

The American Heritage Center stood up and said, "We'll take it, at no cost or inconvenience to you."


Carole Lombard·7:30 PM

Okay, makes sense. I did two collections while a student and I was paid for it, so I guess the money has to come from somewhere.


Perri Harper·7:30 PM

Goodnight everybody--it's all been so very interesting and I'm looking forward to the next chat!


Steve Archer·7:30 PM

bye Perri!


Laura Leff·7:30 PM

AHC must have come in and just grabbed a bunch of stuff, because they even have some of Mary's junk mail.


Carole Lombard·7:30 PM

Night, Perri!


Laura Leff·7:31 PM

Good night Perri!  Great to "see" you!

Carole Wright coupons for Mary Benny...


Carole Lombard·7:31 PM

The U of Wyoming is only two hours from me. Maybe I will go up there sometime.


Linda Cree·7:31 PM

Hee hee!


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Carole Lombard·7:32 PM

Her junk mail? Someone didn't curate that.


Graeme Cree·7:32 PM

We passed through there in October.  Maybe we should have stopped there and skipped Deadwood.


Laura Leff·7:32 PM

I recommend it.  And the people there are delightful!


Carole Lombard·7:32 PM


Weird that they would keep the junk mail. If it's not relevant, you chuck it because you don't have enough space. Odd.


Matt·7:32 PM

Well, I guess I know where I'm donating my junk mail when I pass on.


Laura Leff·7:32 PM

The TV shows that went there are the ones I was able to get out of the archives.


Steve Archer·7:33 PM

I think a special issue of the TIMES featuring Mary's junk mail would be hilarious


Graeme Cree·7:33 PM

I'd like to donate mine to them right now.


Carole Lombard·7:33 PM



Linda Cree·7:33 PM

Good one, Matt!


Laura Leff·7:33 PM


I don't think there's enough interesting or funny there that could make an issue honestly, BUT


Steve Archer·7:33 PM

Mary Benny - invest now in Eva Gabor wigs!


Carole Lombard·7:34 PM

Who were Mary's real friends in Hollywood?


Laura Leff·7:34 PM

there are a variety of other random things that range from bizarre to boring to creepy


Carole Lombard·7:34 PM

Is the list online?


Matt·7:34 PM



Laura Leff·7:34 PM

Carole - Barbara Stanwyck, Mel Blanc's wife


Steve Archer·7:34 PM

Carole, I know Claudette Colbert was supposedly one.


Laura Leff·7:34 PM

There's a suicide note in the collection.


Carole Lombard·7:34 PM



Steve Archer·7:34 PM

oh lordy


Carole Lombard·7:34 PM



Graeme Cree·7:35 PM

From Dennis, right??


Laura Leff·7:35 PM

It was written by one of Mary's assistants to her own mother.


Matt·7:35 PM



Carole Lombard·7:35 PM

What was Mary doing with it???  Did the person actually die?


Laura Leff·7:35 PM

But I found evidence of her continuing to work for Mary some months past the date of the letter


Carole Lombard·7:35 PM

Guess not.

Gee whiz, why would she have that?


Linda Cree·7:35 PM



Laura Leff·7:35 PM

So I'm assuming she didn't go through with it.


Carole Lombard·7:36 PM

Maybe Mary found it in the house.


Laura Leff·7:36 PM

Yeah, I can only imagine that the assistant may have inadvertently left it behind in some files or whatever.


Matt·7:36 PM

Was Mary a packrat?


Laura Leff·7:36 PM

Not in the sense of hoarders that you see on TV nowadays.


Matt·7:36 PM

I can imagine Jack doing a parody of those shows.


Carole Lombard·7:36 PM

You've all been wonderful and this has been a delight. Have a great night and I hope to see you all again on another chat.


Laura Leff·7:36 PM

That's part of it too...you see notes on what Mary was doing each day


Steve Archer·7:36 PM

The gas man is in the AHC files in Wyoming!


Laura Leff·7:37 PM

Steve - Ha!  I love it!


Carole Lombard left the room (user disconnected)


Linda Cree·7:37 PM

Laura would you post a photo of your Benny table again?  I'd love to see it.


Laura Leff·7:37 PM

And it's kind of sad.  Like arranging for a rug to be fixed, just really trivial keep-busy stuff.

Linda - Sure.  I'll look for the photo in my files.  Or just snap a new one.


Linda Cree·7:38 PM



Laura Leff·7:38 PM

The occasional fan letter.

I kept waiting to run across some of the letters I wrote to her that were relayed by Fred de Cordova.


Matt·7:39 PM

Did you ever meet Mary, Laura?


Laura Leff·7:39 PM

So should we call it good for this month and go back to Yosemite for February?

Matt - Sadly, no.  But I did get one hand-written brief letter from her.


Steve Archer·7:39 PM

Sure, seems we're winding down.  I am looking forward to the next chapter of the Yosemite saga next month!

Night all!


Laura Leff·7:39 PM

Thanks for coming folks....it's been wonderful!


Matt·7:40 PM

Good night--I've enjoyed this chat.