Who Could Forget Jack Benny's Face?

Everyone, apparently.

In this General Electric Theater episodeThe Face Is Familiar, Jack is instantly forgotten by everyone he meets, making him an ideal candidate for bag man on a bank robbery.

Most people won’t have the patience for this – being stuck in the hospital for a week, one’s criteria tend to drop – but I was stunned to see that the half-hour episode was directed by Frank Tashlin, he of the frenetic Warner Cartoons and Jerry Lewis features.

I love Jack Benny, but this would have worked if they could have convinced Jerry to star.

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Sundays With Snyder No. 40

From Bryan Olson: Eva Marie Saint reminisces about working on Hitchcock’s North By Northwest as well as her work in theatre and radio.

Wikipedia reports that Saint, who turned 86 last month, has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame – one for motion pictures and another for television.

The all-time Walk of Fame record for multiple stars is held by Gene Autry, who has five – for motion pictures, radio, recording, television and live theater.

I’m happy for Gene, but somebody needs to tell me why Dudley Moore has only one star, awarded for motion pictures. Moore did live theater on Broadway (Beyond The Fringe and Good Evening with Peter Cook). Moore played piano in The Dudley Moore Trio, which recorded quite a few albums.  His television series with Peter Cook, Not Only But Also, was hugely successful in England. Gene Autry gets five stars? Dudley Moore certainly deserves four.

That means Peter Cook deserves three stars; and he has exactly zero at present, which makes him tied with Tom Snyder, who is also yet to be recognized for his television and radio work.

When they rip up Hollywood Boulevard or Vine Street to correct these egregious omissions, they should use the opportunity to add a radio star and theater star for  Eva Marie Saint. Then she’d be tied with Dudley Moore.

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For W.C. Fields Fans Only

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House of Elliotts

Monday at 6 pm, I’ll be at The Paley Center for Media (the renamed Museum of Television and Radio) in NYC for a seminar/tribute to Bob and Ray (and Chris) hosted by Keith Olbermann and featuring a distinguished panel of Elliotts (Bob and Chris, whose novel The Shroud of the Thwacker is highly recommended).

In a recent NPR telephone interview, Bob’s voice sounds hardly different from the one we all grew up with.

I had the extremely good fortune to work with Bob and Ray on an industrial video taped at the old 23rd Street HBO studio, and in the run-up to the taping, I visited B&R in their office at the Greybar Building. I will never forget the sight: as you walked in, towards the back of the reception room was an open archway, beyond which was a wall jutting out perpendicularly which neatly bisected what had once been a single office. On the right side of the wall sat Bob, on the left side sat Ray, who could not see each other but could easily hear each other when speaking in a normal tone of voice. As the visitor, you saw both Bob and Ray; both Bob and Ray only saw you.

Butter ‘em on the far side and write if you get work.

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Stan & Ollie, Bud & Lou, George & Gracie, Bob & Ray, Pete & Dud... Mike and Elaine!

Mike Nichols and Elaine May were a comedy team for a short time – from 1957 through 1962. Their recorded output was tiny – just three LP’s: Improvisations To Music (1959), which, powered by the team’s television appearances, became a ‘top forty’ LP; An Evening With Nichols and May, which contained excerpts from their hit Broadway show of 1960, and their final record, Nichols and May Examine Doctors, from 1961.

Nichols and May were improvisational situation comedians: sophisticated, funny, and cool. They appealed not only to adults, but also to kids. Steve Martin says that each routine was “…like a song – you could listen to it over and over. I used to go to sleep to them at night.”

The ten sketches on the final album, …Examine Doctors, were originally recorded for “the greatest show in network radio history” – Monitor, an NBC extravaganza that ran pretty much the entire weekend, pretty much across the country, from 1955 through 1975. At its peak, the monitor beacon could be heard for forty hours, from 8 a.m. Saturday morning through midnight Sunday. If you’d like to listen to excerpts from Monitor, you’ll need Real Player and Dennis Hart’s Monitor site.

Nichols and May were Monitor regulars for a couple of years. The ten tracks on the …Examine Doctors LP are but a small fraction of their work for Monitor. The rest remains unreleased, which is a shame, because it may well be some of their very best work. See if you agree.

Mike Nichols and Elaine May Unreleased Monitor Sketches, Part 1

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