Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - March 31, 1953 - Hypnotism

McGee orders a book on hypnotism, and then teams up with Olie, bouncing around town trying to hypnotize people.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - March 30, 1949 - Acting Police Commissioner

When the Police Commissioner goes on a fishing trip with the Mayor, Gildy is assigned as the Acting Police Commissioner, and dives headlong into the role.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Jack Benny - March 29, 1936 - Cinderallen

This early episode features a visit from Schlepperman, and a sketch about a male Cinderella.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Burns & Allen - March 28, 1944 - Brian Aherne

Gracie's women's club, the Beverly Hills Uplift Society, is looking for a piece of celebrity memorabilia to auction off, and they obtain a pair of actor Brian Aherne's shorts.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fred Allen - March 26, 1941

In this episode with all the regulars, Kenny Baker sings "Rendezvous in Rio".

Monday, March 25, 2013

Jack Benny - March 25, 1951 - Sunset Boulevard

An Easter show with plenty of holiday-related jokes, followed by a sketch based on the movie Sunset Boulevard. There's also an unusually topical mention of the gangster Frank Costello appearing before the Kefauver Senate committee.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - March 23, 1943 - Fibber Raises $100 for Red Cross Drive

McGee is appointed to collect $50 for the Red Cross, and ends up with $100. This program is another extremely civic-minded entry, one of many during the war, that doesn't forget to be funny as well.

Friday, March 22, 2013

You Bet Your Life - March 22, 1950

A railroad conductor and a longshoreman are first up, followed by a housewife and a gardener.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Jack Benny - March 21, 1943 - Orson Welles Takes Cast to His Movie

Orson Welles, subbing for Jack, invites the cast to the set of his movie. The cab driver on the trip is an impersonation of Mae West, interesting because no mention of Miss West was allowed on NBC after her banishment for performing a lascivious Adam and Eve sketch on the Chase & Sanborn show in 1937.

Frank Nelson plays one of Orson Welles' assistants.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Phil Harris/Alice Faye - March 20, 1949 - Alice Wants a House for Her Mother

Alice wants a house in the country for her mother, and Phil has forgotten her birthday. He tries to solve both problems in one blow. Alice sings "I've Got a Crush on You".

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - March 19, 1940 - Dog License Problem

The McGees receive a letter from the city telling them to renew their dog license or else. Trouble is, they don't own a dog.

There's an interesting historical digression in this one where the question of whether FDR will run for a third term is discussed. It's pointed out that he'd be breaking with tradition if he did. After he won a third term and then a fourth, a constitutional amendment was passed limiting presidents to two terms.

Gale Gordon appears as the mailman, in the days before his regular role as Mayor LaTrivia.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Jack Benny - March 17, 1946 - Dennis Returns from the Navy

Appropriately, Dennis Day returns from his Navy service on St. Patrick's Day and also reprises his Titus Moody impression in the Allen's Alley sketch in the second half of the show.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Duffy's Tavern - March 16, 1949 - The Bully

With St. Patrick's Day approaching fast, let's head over to Duffy's Tavern.

Sheldon Leonard shows up as a bully who tries to order a drink while Archie is exaggerating about how he broke up a fight in the bar the previous night. Archie brushes off the bully, and before you know it, he's training to fight him.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Great Gildersleeve - March 14, 1943 - Income Tax

It's tax time, and Gildy fudges a bit on his taxes (on the advice of his conscience, which is a little odd). He then hems and haws about filing them that way or not.

Gildy's conscience is played by Frank Nelson, which might explain why he's steered the wrong way.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Jack Benny - March 13, 1938 - Death in the Nightclub

This episode sticks to the formula of the early years, with a lot of witty banter, a song by Kenny Baker, and then a detective sketch about a murder in a nightclub.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Phil Harris/Alice Faye - March 12, 1950 - Julius' Marriage

The sponsor's daughter has a crush on Julius, so Julius uses his prospective new influence with Rexall to get even with Phil and Remley. Alice sings "Clancy Lowered the Boom" in anticipation of St. Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jack Benny - March 11, 1945 - How Jack Found Rochester

This episode tells the story, in flashback, of how Jack and Rochester met, when Rochester was driving a taxi for Amos and Andy's cab company.

You can trace much of the course of race relations in the mid-20th century by watching the character of Rochester Van Jones, played masterfully by Eddie Anderson. When Anderson joined the show in 1937, much of the humor around Rochester was based on old racial stereotypes. By the time of this episode, and until the end of the TV series in 1965, the stereotypes were no longer referred to. While Rochester was still ostensibly Benny's valet, they were equals in every other way, and Rochester often got the better of Benny, of course. The show was pioneering in this regard, as it was very unusual to depict a person of color "talking back" to his boss. Also, Anderson was the first black regular on a national radio show.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Bob Hope - March 7, 1939 - Judy Garland

Hope's monologue is all about going to the track at Santa Anita. The guest is Judy Garland, who was on the cusp of superstardom, with "The Wizard of Oz" about to premiere later that year.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Jack Benny - March 6, 1949 - A Day at the Races

Jack and the gang go to the races at Santa Anita, where Jack runs into Ronald Colman, to Colman's chagrin.

Also, Sheldon Leonard is there as the racetrack tout, of course, and Frank Nelson shows up as a waiter.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Fibber McGee & Molly - March 5, 1940 - Cleaning the Hall Closet

This episode is the first to feature the famous hall closet gag. Here, the whole episode is framed around the mess in the closet. Over time, though, the writers and crew became more creative and selective about how they used the gag.

Gracie Allen also stops by as part of her "Gracie for President" promotion, and is delightful, as always.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Duffy's Tavern - March 2, 1944 - Billie Burke

Actress Billie Burke stops by. Best known today for playing Glinda in The Wizard of Oz (1939), she had been a Broadway star and had played ditzy women in a number of drawing-room comedies (preparing her well to fit in at Duffy's). A pitch for War Bonds is worked conversationally into the first scene, which was a common technique during the war years.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Jack Benny - March 1, 1942 - Jack Is Mad About the Academy Awards

The Academy Awards were a few days ago, and Jack's upset that he didn't win Best Actor for "Charley's Aunt".