Remembering a Legend….Jack Benny

jack_benny

Jack Benny February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974

 

40 years ago today the world lost one of the greatest comedians who ever lived when Jack Benny died at the age of 80….of course, Jack would have insisted that he was 39.

Jack Benny’s career ranged from vaudeville to radio to movies to television to concert stages to personal appearances….and he continued to perform almost until his death from pancreatic cancer. He was even set to co-star with Walter Matthau in the film The Sunshine Boys….that role would played instead by Benny’s best friend of 55 years, George Burns. I’ll bet that Jack would have been pleased that George’s career was revived by his Oscar-winning turn in the movie.

NBC aired a half-hour tribute tribute on December 27th that was hosted by Tom Snyder and CBS aired the following hour-long tribute on December 29th, the day of Benny’s funeral. Hosted by Charles Kuralt, this special includes comments from Benny’s co-stars Eddie “Rochester” Anderson, Frank Nelson, Don Wilson, Dennis Day and Mel Blanc, plus Milton Berle, Danny Thomas, Danny Kaye, CBS founder/chairman William S. Paley, Bob Hope’s eulogy at the services and a wonderful clip to end the broadcast….Jack and Gisele MacKenzie with their classic violin duet of “Getting to Know You”.

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Saturday Morning Memories

BugsBunnyShow

This article made me kinda sad….for the first time in over 50 years there are no Saturday morning cartoons airing on any of the broadcast networks.

Saturday morning American broadcast TV was once animation’s home field. Filling a cereal bowl with artificially colored sugar pebbles and staring at the tube was every kid’s weekend plan. Not any more: For the first time in 50-plus years, you won’t find a block of animation on broadcast this morning. It’s the end of an era.

Yes, The CW, the final holdout in Saturday morning animation, ran its last batch of Vortexx cartoons last weekend. This week, where you once saw shows like Cubix, Sonic X, Dragon Ball Z and Kai, Digimon Fusion, and Yu-Gi-Oh!, you’ll instead find “One Magnificent Morning,” a block of live-action educational programming.

It’s the end of an era, but it’s been a long time coming: NBC ditched Saturday morning cartoons in 1992, CBS followed suit not long after, and ABC lost its animated weekend mornings in 2004. The CW, a lower-tier broadcast network, was the last holdout in a game that the Big 3 left long ago.

I know that there are classic cartoons running on cable networks, not to mention the fact that kids and/or their parents can pop in a DVD….but it’s just not the same as parking yourself in front of the tv set with a bowl of cereal on a Saturday morning and waiting for some of the following classic cartoon openings.

This was my all-time favorite – The Bugs Bunny-Roadrunner Show. This begins with something that kids today know nothing about: the CBS network “tone” that was heard before the beginning of every program.

Here’s a few more Saturday morning favorites….

The Flintstones

The Jetsons

Underdog

Beany and Cecil (the opening)

Beany and Cecil (the closing)

There are so many more that I could have included – maybe I’ll do a follow-up someday – but for now….

Wanna Buy a Record?

Wanna Buy a Record

Here’s a 1951 promotional film for Capitol Records starring Mel Blanc and Billy May, Wanna Buy a Record? Mel plays a record dealer who lets Billy May and us know, in a comedic way, what went into recording a record, the process of turning that recording into actual discs and how those discs were delivered to your local record store.

Besides Mel and Billy, we also see such people as Harry Stewart (as Yogi Yorgesson), Dean Martin (in the recording studio) and Capitol Records producer/executive Alan Livingston. We also get to see what Hollywood looked like in 1951, with views of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, ABC, NBC and Wallichs Music City, the record store that Mel owns in this scenario – it was actually owned by Capitol Records co-founder Glenn Wallichs.

Enjoy this unusual film….and its bizarre ending!

Ester Goldberg

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