Posted ByGerry O. on January 24, 2002 at 02:12:04:
In Reply to: Re: Jack Benny a smuggler??? posted byKurt on January 24, 2002 at 01:50:48:
: Both Jack and George Burns were charged with "smuggling" (actually, bringing jewelry purchsed for their wives without paying import duty) They had been brought into the country in 1938 from Europe by Albert Chaperau, a professional criminal and confidence man who masqueraded as a diplomat and offered to bring them through Customs duty-free in his diplomatic pouch.
: George and Jack were not the only two implicated in the case, which involved others in Southern California, but they were by far the most famous. Both of them pleaded guilty in April 1939 in federal court in New York. Jack was fined $10,000 and given a 6-month suspended sentence. George was fined $15,000 and given a year and a day's suspended sentence.
: The case had absolutely no effect on their radio careers, since the public believed that both men had been duped. More details about the case are in George Burns' FBI file. The most outrageous detail of the case: The person who went to the authorities and spilled the beans about the smuggling was someone's pro-Nazi maid!
: The FBI file does not have kind things to say about Mary Livingstone, but that's the problem with hearsay in such files.
: As you also will see from riffling through the FBI file online, Benny and Burns' careers were in no way affected, but every single time after that when either one of them would appear at the White House, there would be the usual security clearance investigation, and every single time, the matter would pop up. Very stupid.
No, the smuggling incident didn't hurt their careers...and in Jack's case there's probably a good reason why it didn't.
While I certainly don't approve of smuggling jewelery into the country, it IS kind of funny when you think about it...
It was really keeping with Jack's on-air persona that he would actually try to smuggle jewelery into the country to avoid paying a duty on it!
It's like when Errol Flynn would get in trouble over a sex scandal....If his incidents had happened to a wholesome, "clean cut" movie star, that star's career would probably have ended in disgrace, but Flynn had such an image and reputation as an oversexed wild man that when a "scandal" broke out, the public would actually be amused and say, "Oh, there goes Errol again!".