Re: Mary recording her lines at home

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Posted ByGerry O. on April 12, 2002 at 05:14:59:

In Reply to: Mary recording her lines at home posted byBobR on April 11, 2002 at 23:02:03:

: Although I have read in various books that Mary during sometime in the 50's recorded her lines from home;what was the purpose of this and can anyone tell me how they can distinguish her being in the studio versus at being at home?Also,I would assume the audience laughter had to have been canned,unfortunately.

Mary ended up recording her lines at home during the 1950's because of her increasing stage fright. She HATED the idea of having to stand up before a studio audience and perform. In fact, during the 1930's and 40's she was known to have become violently ill or even pass out cold after a broadcast. Sometimes she would get sick BEFORE a broadcast and be unable to perform, causing her absence to be explained on the air by "a sudden case of laryngitis" or some similar ailment...then her part would be read on the air by another actress, usually playing the part of one of Mary's sisters. I have a 1936 "Jell-O" show where this happened...Blanche Stewart fills in as Mary's sister "Mamie".
Anyway, by the 1950's she had had it. She wanted to quit the Benny show altogether, but Jack still wanted her on the show, as she was still a very popular character. Someone on the Benny staff got the idea of Mary staying home, recording her lines and having the lines edited into the tape before broadcast.
The laughter response in these "Mary At Home" shows was not canned, it was genuine. When the show was being performed and taped before the studio audience, it was explained during the audience warm-up that Mary was "home with a cold"...a little white lie, but it allowed Mary's lines to be read by a "stand-in", usually Jeanette Eyman, the script girl. Then the stand-in's lines were edited out of the tape and Mary's lines edited in. The finished product is not always seamless, and Mary's "at home" readings sometimes seem lackluster, without that certain spark that her in-studio performances had, but at least it kept Mary on the radio show for a few more seasons.
It's also interesting to note that during Jack's TV years, Mary ONLY appeared on the shows which were filmed using canned laughter...she NEVER appeared on the live telecasts performed on a stage at Television City in front of a studio audience.

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