& One Final Commercial
"I WANT MY PANTS!"
-- Jack Benny
Lincoln, Me. (DG)---
Only on live radio can the radio listeners expect the unexpected. One
of the most bizarre events to air live over the microphone occurred on the
May 26, 1946 broadcast of THE FRED ALLEN SHOW.
Since Allen's return to NBC, the relationship between the
comedian and the
management of the network was strained at best. One of the network’s
pet peeves was Allen deliberately had his program run beyond the 30 minute time
limit. What happens, the program was cut off in mid sentence by the
sounding of the NBC chimes. To Allen’s delight, the listeners
got mad at the network for cutting his program off. The May 26, 1946
broadcast was almost one of the long running broadcasts had
it not been for the closing commercial and the quick narration of
announcer Kenny Delmar.
The broadcast featured "Mary Livingstone’s husband"
(Jack Benny) as the special guest. If you know your old time radio, you
already know of the long running "feud" between Fred Allen and
Jack Benny. When the two men got together in front of the microphone,
fireworks usually followed.
On this particular broadcast, Allen was unusually subdued. Both he and
Benny got in some cracks at each other, but it wasn’t anything
unusual. The final routine on the program was a skit called King For A
Day with Allen as the M.C., and Benny as the contestant under the alias
of "Myron Proudfoot." To the surprise of absolutely no
one, Benny won the contest and was King For A Day. Allen presented him
with some cheap gifts. The final prize was to have Benny’s suit cleaned
and pressed--- AT THAT VERY MOMENT! Two men
grabbed Benny while a third man pulled off his pants in front of the
studio audience, who couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
With the audience laughing hysterically and Benny yelling for his
pants, there was a small problem--- one that could get Allen in trouble
with his sponsor, Standard Brands. That problem was one more
commercial had to be presented--- with only seconds left!
Delmar had to read the closing commercial for Tender Leaf Tea
so fast, the listeners could barely keep up with him.
To his credit, Delmar got the entire Tender Leaf Tea
commercial on the air before the NBC chimes sounded off. He also
narrated the commercial with the commotion taking place in front of him---
and that had to take considerable concentration not to become