Re: Bossy Spouses

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Posted Byjerry4opry on December 27, 2003 at 07:23:04:

In Reply to: Bossy Spouses posted byGerry O. on December 22, 2003 at 21:04:17:

: Many thanks, Tom...What GREAT info!

: That was very interesting about Gurney's wife threatening to sue Jack if her husband was let go from the Sportsmen!

: I've noticed that during Jack's career, there were times when the wives of staff members would butt in and cause trouble behind the scenes....probably the most famous instance was when Mary Livingston and writer Harry Conn's wife got into a big argument over whose husband was the real "talent and brains" of the Benny show, causing Conn to abruptly quit the Benny program.

: I'm wondering if these instances were the inspiration for such fictional characters as Dennis Day's bossy, meddlesome mother, or the 1949 radio character of Mel Blanc's caustic wife "Desdimona"...she was played by Sara Berner, and would constantly urge Mel to ask Jack for bigger parts and more money: "Aw, don't be such a SCHNOOK, Melvin, tell him how IMPORTANT you are!"...then she would berate Jack for not giving her "talented Melvin" better parts on the show....

: Yup, the ideas for these characters had to come from SOMEPLACE!

: off-topic a bit but all i have to say is that comedy and writers share it equally 50/50, or ought to. a comedian's success...well, anyone's success in entertainment i think comes from the writers first and the appeal of the entertainer, which has many sub-categories like timing, delivery, performance, speaking skills, etc. I've read countless web-pages and OTR books and everyone talks about the Harry Conn incident. to say that Conn was the "talent and brains" behind the program is silly. Conn...and all the writers after him...are 50% the reason the show was funny but Jack Benny and THAT cast was the other 50%...maybe more...because you can't write deadpan humor or pauses in a script. Jack's own comedic instincts get credit for this. Sure, a person can write the words "pause" or "stare into the camera" or "look off to the left" but Jack Benny is who had the ability to make us laugh doing those things. When Jack pauses, no matter where at in a sentence, everyone an episode of his TV show he's getting his driver's license re-newed. the typist is reciting everything on the previous license. Jack's nodding his head as she goes on and on saying everything's she typing. Then she gets to the "age" section of the license and the typing stops...there's silence...there's laughter...and we see Jack looking puzzled. She picks up the license, looks at Jack's face, and says: "my, this has been expired a LONG time!". hysterical laughter ensues on that "age 39" joke even though it was never outwardly mentioned...his persona was so well-defined that everyone instinctively laughed because the typist saw that the license had his age at 39. razor-sharp writing and perfect timing.

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