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Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy$
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Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520295049

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520295049.001.0001

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Benny at War with the Radio Critics

Benny at War with the Radio Critics

(p.250) Eight Benny at War with the Radio Critics
Jack Benny and the Golden Age of American Radio Comedy

Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley

University of California Press

Jack Benny and his radio program faced numerous challenges during World War II – difficult performances at military camps, key personnel lost to the draft, mediocre comedy, and creative ennui. Benny and new writers bounced back, starting in 1945, innovating with new radio characters like Mel Blanc’s violin teacher and train announcer, Frank Nelson’s obnoxious functionaries, and disdainful neighbors Ronald and Benita Colman. The “I Can’t Stand Jack Benny” context brought critical acclaim. Then a new generation of radio critics, led by John Crosby, used Benny as the symbol of all that was stale and old in primetime network broadcasting. Benny and his writers alternately complained, fought back, and innovated to regain both popular and critical acclaim.

Keywords:   World War II, draft, contest, journalism, critics, innovation, radio networks, radio comedians

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