The "Walking Man" contest questions

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Re: Ralph Edwards' passing

Postby Gerry O. » Mon Nov 21, 2005 4:40 am

shimp scrampi wrote:Thought I would resurrect an old fun thread to sadly note Ralph Edwards' passing a few days back. It's a good occasion to remember that this little corner of Jack's career, the Walking Man contest - is not only fun to discuss so many years later, but raised 1.8 million dollars (in 1948!) for the heart fund. An enduring gift to society indeed.


Let's not forget Fred Allen's statement:

"Well, that's radio for you....One minute you're a big star and the next minute Ralph Edwards is hitting you in the face with a pie!"
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Postby Maxwell » Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:00 pm

And speaking of Ralph Edwards, in the current issue of TV Guide there was an item that the inevitable Regis Philbin was set to host a new version of Truth or Consequences.
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Think I found the "Metropolis" answer!

Postby athimmel » Tue Jun 27, 2006 7:40 am

While I was listening to an old episode (3/7/48 at the 23:00 mark), I think I found definitive proof of what was meant by the clue about "master of the metropolis". It was the episode after the Walking Man contest had been won, and the writing crew had been forced to come up with a new script at the last minute because the contest was now over.

Late in the show, a normal routine started where Rochester called Jack at the studio. Upon Jack answering the phone, Rochester said: "Hello, master? This is the metropolis!"

Thus, it appears that no matter how it has been remembered recently, at the time Rochester (NY) was actually the clue for metropolis, and Jack was the master (boss) of the metropolis.

Hope this makes sense. It's my first post!
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Postby shimp scrampi » Tue Jun 27, 2006 3:53 pm

Wow, great find athimmel - and welcome to the boards! I still wonder if that was the clue the T or C audiences were supposed to get though - it works for the "master of the metropolis" angle, but not the "fits his name quite well". So, I transcribed the bit from my copy of the Truth or Consequences episode - here is what Ralph Edwards says on 3/6/48 introducing Jack:

Ralph Edwards: And here he is, the walking man, walking because he won’t spend the money for cab fare --- walking man, that’s the thing you overlooked sort of --- you knew the character of the man as a jokester, that that, that there would be a comedy angle, but the factual angle is “the walking man” because Waukegan means ‘walk again’ as named by the Indians and Jack Benny is of course is from Waukegan, walk again, Illinois. So, here he is, Jack Benny.


Now, we know Ralph's facts on Indian languages are a bit screwy, but seems still like that was what was on the minds of the T or C staffers - Rochester's line could either be a deliberate representation of the real intended clue - OR just a joke riff on the clue afterward. I'm more confused than ever! I wish that following Truth or Consequences episode would turn up where they supposedly explain all of those clues - many of which are mysterious - in detail.

But great find, it was right there in that show I'd heard at least a couple of times before and never noticed that!
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Postby athimmel » Tue Jun 27, 2006 4:04 pm

Interesting info from Edwards, but did you notice that when we was talking about Waukegan, he referred to Walking Man, but not to master of the metropolis? Since the Benny episode was just 3 days after Benny was guessed, my vote goes for Rochester's explanation.

Thanks for the kind welcome!
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Explanation of clues from 1948

Postby jcouso » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:09 am

In doing some completely unrelated research I stumbled upon a newspaper article from 1948 that gives explanations for the Walking Man clues. Here they are;

"Bing bong bell (church bells). Benny's program is on Sunday.
"It's ten and only one can tell (tenth alphabet letter is J. Benny's first initial).
"The master of the metropolis fits his name quite well." (Benny is the master of his radio show valet, Rochester. Rochester is the name of two cities).
Edwards tossed in other noise clues that fit Benny, too:
Galloping horses and gunfire. (Benny's moto is "Buck Benny rides again")
"Auld Lang Syne" played on a trumpet. (That's a New Year's Eve song, Jack's last movie is "The Horn Blows at Midnight.")
The whistling of "Annie Laurie." (The song begins, "Maxwellton braes are bonnie." Benny's jalopy is a Maxwell. He's also, known as being Scotch).
A cat's wail. (Violin strings are made of catgut).
A squeaky violin exercise. (Benny plays that on his own show).
Jack was amazed when confronted with this evidence.
"Well," he said, "come to think of it, I have been doing a lot of walking on my program lately.
"Hmmmm."

Hurray… now I can rest easier! :D
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Postby Roman » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:56 am

Man, talk about ridiculous clues! People were supposed to know obscure lyrics from an obscure song and connect that to Jack's Maxwell? With all the actors in Hollywood who played cowboys, people were expected to guess Jack because he had done a few Buck Benny sketches years earlier? A cat's wail as a clue for Jack's violin? And on the other hand, they throw in the most obvious clue with the sqeaky violin playing. Who else BUT Jack was known for this?

And then there are the cringe-inducing clues. Jack's known as being Scotch, a reference I suppose to that old ethnic slur about Scottish people being cheap. And "the master of the metropolis." As Jack would say, yikes!

While the cause supported by the Walking Man contest was certainly worthy and it was clearly a success in raising a lot of money, by any standard and in any era, the clues to the Walking Man contest were remarkably inane.
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Postby shimp scrampi » Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:33 pm

Agreed, Roman, these are some stinkers! I like the suggestion raised here that "Bing Bong Bell" works better as a reference to the NBC chimes more so than church bells, indicating Sunday, indicating the day of Jack's regular timeslot. Sheesh. And, I am cringing at the vanishing of my last hopes that the "master" clue had nothing to do with Rochester....

Great find jcouso! Do you know the newspaper and date this was printed in?
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