Radio entertainment news (5-7-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 7, 1941)


Ad-libbed titles start program with laugh

By Si Steinhauser

Don Wilson has reversed the old vaudeville motto “Send them away with a smile.” He is opening Jack Benny’s Sunday night broadcasts with a new idea and it is getting terrific laughs. It all happened when a scriptwriter forgot to set down the title of Phil Harris’ opening band number, so Don ad-libbed:

The orchestra opens the program with “Moon Over Waukegan.”

Benny said the rest of the cast, caught off-guard, could hardly put on the program, they were so hilarious.

Last Sunday, Don said:

The orchestra opens the program with “I Wonder Who’s Kissing Her Now – That I’m Drafted.”

On previous Sundays, since the first “accident” – the rest have been written in because it seemed a good idea – he has produced screams of laughter in the studio with “On the Road to Pismo Beach,” “I See the Moon at Noon,” “Ode to a Wild Petunia,” “I’m Going to Keokuk, Iowa, With a Banjo on My Knee,” “Way Down Upon the Los Angeles River” and the “Phil Harris Concerto No. 6 For Oboe and Drum.”

That “cockeyed hit parade” has caused listeners to be alert for the very first word of Benny’s broadcasts.

On Sunday night’s Take It or Leave It program, the “jackpot” question was:

In the order of succession to the Presidency, what cabinet officer would be last to get the office?

The answer given as correct splitting the jackpot between several persons was:

Secretary of Labor.

Strangely, the act of Congress creating the order of succession makes no mention of the last three – agriculture, commerce, labor. It was approved in 1886 when none of the three was organized.

Incidentally, for an easy way in check the order of succession of cabinet members, remember this: “St. Wapniacl.” Sounds funny, but it does the trick. For instance:

S – State
T – Treasury
W – War
A – Attorney General
P – Postmaster General
N – Navy
I – Interior
A – Agriculture
C – Commerce
L – Labor

After Amos ‘n’ Andy visit Fred Allen tonight, they will announce a date for Fred’s visit to one of their broadcasts.

A specially-built “jail door” provides prison sound effects on Gene Autry, Big Town and racket-busting broadcasts. The door designed by West Coast Sound Effects Engineer Al Span weighs 200 pounds, is 6’6" high and is made of angle irons and solid bars. Mounted on 4-inch casters, it is equipped with all of the latest wrinkles in bolts and locks.

What, no hacksaw?

During the three-year radio run of The Aldrich Family, four girls have outgrown the role of “Mary,” but Ezra Stone never lets his voice mature in the part of “Henry.”

Helen Hayes is still wondering whether it was a gag, but while she was rehearsing the death scene from the murder mystery Some Must Watch, the studio was suddenly plunged into darkness.

Dinah Shore, radio’s newest girl favorite, was planning a “lazy summer, Southern style” but stage appearances will spoil that. Hope she gets a break here. Pittsburghers would like her and her singing.

Pittsburgh’s Russ Smith and his new orchestra make their debut at the Rainbow Grill atop Radio City tonight.

Spencer Tracy describes Radio City:

The studio acoustics are so excellent that actors can hear every yawn.

Raymond Scott’s orchestra has been signed to lead the parade of name bands that will play at (New York) Luna Park’s “World’s Fair of 1941.” Broadcasts start May 29.

A radio scripter asked a famous team:

What would you pay for a radio serial in blank verse?

…and got this reply:

A blank check.

Bert Lytell, head man of NBC’s Star-Spangled Theater says:

It isn’t so much what the world is coming to as when!

Songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen, author of many big hits, got his start driving midget racing autos.

Fred Allen will be Amos ‘n’ Andy’s guest tomorrow night.

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