Jack Benny

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Jack Benny: How Radio Made Comedy Grow Up

In the past 20 years, American humor -- accelerated by radio -- has come out of the barnyard. It has been cleaned up, perfumed and sparked by those unsung heroes, the gag writers. Today, the ether is so full of good gags that even the ghosts have hysterics. I will go out on a limb to say that radio has done for American humor in 10 years what it would have taken vaudeville 50 years to reach. I feel no heartaches over vaudeville's passing, when I think of the way the old-time comic used to ... (read more)

Command Performance Radio Entertains the Troops

Bing Crosby and Jimmy Cagney on Command Performance (August 30, 1942) A few Sundays ago, a young and unknown radio producer sat down to a telephone in the War Department in Washington and called Leopold Stokowski, in New York. "Mr. Stokowski," he said, "I want you and your orchestra to appear on my radio program two weeks from today." Stokowski -- who won't lift a baton for less than $4,000 -- gasped. But before he could hang up, Glenn Wheaton, radio producer for Uncle Sam, explained. "We ... (read more)

The Home Life of Jack Benny

Jack Benny's former home in Beverly Hills Under one roof: a house for everybody, and for everybody a house of his own. This is Mary Livingstone's recipe for a harmonious family life, and it works like a talisman -- even in Hollywood where (despite the well-paid efforts of half the psychiatric brains in the country) more marriages explode in the headlines than go on year in year out in a sort of a miraculous serenity. Of course, if you're living in Quonset hut with your bride and her ... (read more)

Phil Harris: Why Alice Faye Moved from Movies to Radio

Alice Faye and Phil Harris with daughters Phyllis and Alice Jr. in 1948 Maybe I never should have taken Alice Faye as my bride on that day in May seven years ago. Until then, all this beautiful, big hunk of talent talks about is show business. Then she marries me, gets a house, has babies, and all she wants is to push one of those wire carts around the grocery store. First thing you know I'm not allowed to make tours with my band any more, either. "We're through living by an upside down ... (read more)