What Jack Got Paid

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What Jack Got Paid

Postby Yhtapmys » Sun Apr 26, 2009 12:50 pm

Here's a story from the Chicago Tribune, dated Nov. 15, 1936, running down the salaries of the major players in radio. Unfortunately, I don't have access to this so there are two sections of text missing. As well, there's PDF garble in the list of Hollywood stars' salaries. I'll fill in what looks to be a positive match, but I'm not guaranteeing any of those figures are correct.
Surprisingly, there's no reference to Bing Crosby, Paul Whiteman, Joe Penner or Stoopnagle and Budd in the story.

Bowes, Cantor, Benny, Gracie Allen in Lead.

When Maj. Bowes bagged a new sponsor recently his friends started the story that he was to get $25,000 a week for this renewed effort in uplifting the youth of the nation. Now $25,000 is a lot of money—about as much as any one in baseball gets in a year. So we resolved to check this matter of Maj. Bowes’ recompense along with that of some of the other luckier diggers in this new bonanza we call radio prospecting for this sort of information is a tough job. Some who have struck it rich refuse absolutely to divulge any of the details. On the other hand, agents for many stars make Jack Pearl and Fibber McGee look like pikers when it comes to exaggeration. But we have made a determined effort for some weeks to ascertain the earning powers of some of our more popular entertainers. And, though we make no affidavit that the information presented herewith is right in every instance, most of the figures are not far off.
First, as to Maj. Bowes. Though he seems to have lost some of his listeners he is getting more money than ever. Best information is that it is near $18,000 a week.
$14,000 for Cantor Show.
Next richest paying dirt was struck this fall by Eddie Cantor, whose weekly fee is said to be $14,000. Out of this he pays Parkyakarkas, Bobby Breen, Deanna Durbin, and Jacques Renard. That still leaves him a net in excess of half that.
On next April Fool’s day George Burns and Gracie Allen go to work for a new sponsor and leap from $5500 to $8500, paying, however, for all the rest of the talent. And they say Gracie is a simpleton!
Jack Benny gets $7000 for his show, paying Phil Harris, his orchestra leader, Al Boazberg and other script writers, and Kenny Baker, his shy tenor, out of that. ...
[missing text]
Fred Astaire comes high, too. He extracts a weekly $6000, Charlie Butterworth, comedian of the show, draws $2500, and Johnny Green and orchestra cost $3000 more. Then there are Alan Jones, Anne Jamison, and Trudy Woods. Astaire’s is one of radio’s costliest shows.
Phil Baker commands $6000 with his various stooges even though confined to an eastern seaboard network. Wayne King’s latest contract calls for a payment of about $700,000 in eighteen months. This would run around $8900 a week for King and his orchestra. For this Wayne provides four half-hour broadcasts a week, more than any other dance orchestra.
Other high income stars hereabouts are Charlie Correll and Gosden (Amos and Andy) who are on the last lap of a five year contract paying them $1,000,000. Thus, over a period of years, they probably have averaged $4000 a week together.
Lum ‘n’ Abner in the Money.
Chet Lauck and Norris Goff (Lum and Abner) recently signed a contract which will bring them $237,000 from radio in about one year. Thus they appear to be doing just as well as Amos ‘n’ Andy. Jim and Marian Jordan (Fibber McGee and Molly) also recently signed a comparatively short term contract for $200,000; they now draw $2650 per program. These four units are Chicago's best paid.
Fred Allen, never one to argue much about salary, draws around $5500 for himself and cast. How he splits this with Portland is not known.
Ed Wynn once got $7500 for his entire show but is back to $5000 on his new series. Jack Pearl’s figure is just about the same. Kate Smith is way out in front of all other women, her lunar labors bringing in around $5000 each Thursday.
Lombardos Get $5500.
Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians draw more money than any other dance orchestra—$5500 for a single half-hour a week. Ben Bernie is said to be next with $5000 or thereabouts.
Fred Waring with all his singers and specialists gets about $12,000 for his two programs a week.
Rudy Vallee must struggle along on $3500 a week for his share of the Thursday varieties though there is a big budget for guest stars. Thus comedians and band leaders command the biggest money with the exception of Kate Smith and Maj. Bowes. Highest paid singer is said to be Lanny Ross with about $150,000 a year his reward for piloting Show Boat, Frank Parker draws $1750, Nelson Eddy, $1250, and James Melton the same. ...
[missing text]
Grace Moore will warble for $2500, Lily Pons for $2000, Jane Froman and Ruth Etting for $1250, and Gladys Swarthout for $1000. Same for Ethel Shutta.
Elaine Sterno Carrington, who writes “Pepper Young’s Family” and “Trouble House,” and Edith Meiser, who drafts “Sherlock Holmes” and Helen Hayes’ “Bambi,” both earn more than $1000 for work. They are just about radio’s top serial writers.
The rush to Hollywood has provided a lot of cinema stars with easy money. Most of them are handed finished scripts with only one or two rehearsals (they are all so busy) and there are a flock of them now making from one to a half dozen guest appearances per year up to $6000 for each. Mae West and Shirley Temple have been offered somewhat more than that, but have not been persuaded. (Mae, however, has made a guest appearance without pay.)
Some Hollywood figures:
Clark Gable (?,000)
Al Jolson Ruby Keeler (?,500)
Jolson (alone) (6000)
Marlene Dietrich (5000)
Myrna Loy (?)
Merle Oberon (1600)
Freddie Bartholomew (1160)
Robert Taylor (1000)
Edward Everett Horton (1000).
Patsy Kelly (1000)
Dick Powell (1000)
The Sears’ “Then and Now”, aired from the Goodman theater, is easily Chicago’s most costly show. Upward of $14,000 has been paid, it is said, for notable guest talent in a single week. For a little more than a score of guest stars they have paid out in the neighborhood of $50,000. The [most?] money went to Al Jolson, who drew $5000. The average price paid was $2300. Of course, it needs to be added that Uncle Sam gets a goodly slice of radio s big and easy money—probably half or more!

transcribed by Yhtapmys
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Postby Roman » Tue May 19, 2009 3:48 pm

Frank Sinatra once described Maj. Bowes as a pompous drunk with a bulbous nose. If he was making $18,000 a week in the middle of the Depression he must have been one amazingly rich pompous drunk. I wonder what that equates to in today's money.
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