University of Notre Dame

 

Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Jack Benny Program Scripts

MSN/MN 3008

 

Collection Summary

Title: Jack Benny Program scripts
Dates: 1943-1965
Collection No.: MSN/MN 3008
Creator: Balzer, George M., 1915-2006
Extent: 40 volumes and 1 container; 8 linear feet
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A collection of about 600 Jack Benny Program radio and television scripts, 1943 to 1965. The typescripts are original working copies of George M. Balzer, one of Benny's writers.

Selected Search Terms

Benny, Jack, 1894-1974
Jack Benny program (Radio program)
Jack Benny program (Television program)
Radio advertising
Radio programs -- United States
Television programs -- United States

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: Jack Benny Program Scripts, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Jack Benny Program scripts were donated to the Hesburgh Libraries by George M. Balzer. Finding aid 2013, by Kathleen Monahan and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

George M. Balzer was born on 1 September 1915 in Erie, Pennsylvania, the son of George Jacob and Bessie Sullivan Balzer. In 1920 he moved with his parents to Los Angeles, where he began a 34-year career writing comedy for radio, television, and theater. Early in his career Balzer wrote for the radio comedian Bob Burns on the Kraft Music Hall program (starring Bing Crosby), and for George Burns on the Burns and Allen show. He also co-wrote the musical Are You With It?, which opened on Broadway in 1945 and ran for 17 months. In 1943 Balzer and his writing partner on Burns and Allen, Sam Perrin, joined the Jack Benny Program. Balzer remained on Benny's team for more than 20 years, successfully negotiating the transition from radio to television. Balzer was nominated for five Emmys for his work with Benny (and won two others, including the 1959 "Best Writing of a Single Program of a Comedy Series" for a 1959 episode of Ernie Kovacs). After the Benny show went off the air in 1965 Balzer wrote for the Red Skelton Hour and Here's Lucy. He retired from show business in 1971. In 1942 Balzer married Ada Marie Anderson, with whom he had three children. He died in Van Nuys, California on 28 September 2006, at the age of 91.

The Jack Benny Program (officially named The Canada Dry Program) premiered on the NBC Blue Network on 2 May 1932. Over the course of its history the show went through numerous sponsors, from Canada Dry (1932-33) to Chevrolet (1933-34) to General Tire (1934) to Jell-O (1934-42). When Balzer came to the show it was called the Grape Nut and Grape Nut Flakes Program starring Jack Benny. Starting in 1 October 1944, Lucky Strikes became the sponsor, an arrangement which continued until 1959. On 2 January 1949, Benny moved from NBC to CBS as part of William Paley's much publicized "talent raid" of NBC. Benny stayed with CBS until 1964, when he returned to NBC.

The Benny program's transition from radio to television was a gradual one. In the 1950/51 television season Benny aired only four shows. In 1951/52 he made one television show every six weeks. In 1952/53 this became one show every four weeks and in 1953/54, one every three weeks. From 1954 to 1960 Benny was broadcasting a show every other week; only after 1960 did he air a show every week. He continued his weekly radio program until 22 May 1955. Like the radio show, Benny's television program went through a variety of sponsors: Lucky Strike (1950-1959); Lux (1959-1960); State Farm Insurance (1960-1965); Lipton Tea (1960-1962); Jell-O (1962-1964) and Miles Laboratories (1964-1965). On 16 April 1965 the Jack Benny Program finally went off the air.

The Benny program's comic approach, on radio and TV, remained quite consistent over the decades. The show revolved around the generally understated comic persona of its star (who played himself). Other regulars included Mary Livingstone, Benny's real-life wife; Eddie Anderson, Benny's valet-chauffeur Rochester van Jones; Phil Harris, the bandleader; Dennis Day, a naive young man working for Benny and the musical star of the show; Mel Blanc, who played a number of characters; and Don Wilson, the announcer. From 1944 to 1946 Larry Stevens replaced Dennis Day while Day served in the Navy. Bob Crosby, the younger brother of Bing Crosby, replaced Harris as band-leader in 1952. Benny's show also had a repertoire of recurring spot-players, including Joseph Kearns, Artie Auerbach, Verna Felton, Frank Nelson, Dale White, Bea Benaderet, and Sarah Berner. The program also featured guest stars, who varied from week to week.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of 40 bound volumes, holding some 600 radio and television scripts and encompassing over 14,000 pages. Lacking are radio scripts of the Benny program from the years before Balzer joined the show, and from 1955. Also lacking are television scripts from the first two years, 1950 to 1952. The collection also includes 21 folders holding annotated insertions found throughout the volumes. The scripts are uniformly bound in blue leather, with titles, dates, and "Geo. M. Balzer" stamped in gilt on the spines.

Arrangement Note

The bound volumes of scripts are arranged chronologically. Subsequent to these are a group of 21 folders, each containing the insertions in a particular volume; these too are arranged chronologically.

Related Material

Substantial collections of archival material relating to Jack Benny, including radio and television program scripts, are housed at the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming (Jack Benny Papers) and at the Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles (Jack Benny Papers, Collection 134).

Container List

  • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1943 October 10-1944 January 30. (MSN/MN 3008-1-B).
    1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 1 insertion.
    Includes revised scripts for 17 radio programs of the General Foods Company Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program starring Jack Benny for 1943-1944. 3-page summary of contents laid in.
    • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1944 Februrary 10-1944 June 4. (MSN/MN 3008-2-B).
      1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 2 insertions.
      Includes revised scripts for 17 radio programs of the General Foods Company Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program starring Jack Benny in 1944. 3-page summary of contents laid in.
      • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1944 October 1-1945 January 14. (MSN/MN 3008-3-B).
        1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
        Includes revised scripts for 16 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1944-1945. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
        • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1945 January 21-1945 May 27. (MSN/MN 3008-4-B).
          1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil.
          Includes revised scripts for 18 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1945. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
          • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1945 September 30-1946 January 27. (MSN/MN 3008-5-B).
            1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 4 insertions.
            Includes revised scripts for 18 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1945-1946. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
            • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1946 February 3-1946 May 26. (MSN/MN 3008-6-B).
              1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 5 insertions.
              Includes revised scripts for 17 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny in 1946. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
              • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1946 September 29-1947 January 26. (MSN/MN 3008-7-B).
                1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
                Includes revised scripts for 18 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1946-1947. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1947 February 2-1947 May 25. (MSN/MN 3008-8-B).
                  1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 1 insertion.
                  Includes revised scripts for 17 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1943-1944. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                  • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1947 October 5-1948 Feburary 15. (MSN/MN 3008-9-B).
                    1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 4 insertions.
                    Includes revised scripts for 20 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1947-1948. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                    • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1948 February 22-1948 June 27. (MSN/MN 3008-10-B).
                      1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 7 insertions.
                      Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1947-1948. 4-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                      • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1948 October 30-1949 January 30. (MSN/MN 3008-11-B).
                        1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 2 insertions.
                        Includes revised scripts for 18 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1948-1949. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                        • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1949 February 6-1949 May 29. (MSN/MN 3008-12-B).
                          1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
                          Includes revised scripts for 17 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1949. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                          • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1949 September 11-1950 January 15. (MSN/MN 3008-13-B).
                            1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
                            Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1949-1950. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                            • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1950 January 15-1950 May 28. (MSN/MN 3008-14-B).
                              1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
                              Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1950. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                              • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1950 September 10-1951 January 14. (MSN/MN 3008-15-B).
                                1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 2 insertions.
                                Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1950-1951. 4-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program. 1951 January 21-1951 June 3. (MSN/MN 3008-16-B).
                                  1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 2 insertions.
                                  Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1951. 4-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                  • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1951 September 16-1952 January 20. (MSN/MN 3008-17-B).
                                    1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 2 insertions
                                    Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1951-1952. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                    • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1952 January 27-1952 June 1. (MSN/MN 3008-18-B).
                                      1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 1 insertion.
                                      Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny in 1952. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                      • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1952 September 14-1953 January 18. (MSN/MN 3008-19-B).
                                        1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil.
                                        Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1952-1953. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                        • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1953 January 22-1953 June 7. (MSN/MN 3008-20-B).
                                          1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 7 insertions.
                                          Includes revised scripts for 20 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1953. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                          • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1953 September 13-1954 January 24. (MSN/MN 3008-21-B).
                                            1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil.
                                            Includes revised scripts for 20 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1953-1954. 4-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                            • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1953 September 13-1954 May 23. (MSN/MN 3008-22-B).
                                              1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                              Includes revised scripts for 13 television programs of The Jack Benny Program presented by Lucky Strike for 1953-1954. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                              • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1954 January 31-1954 June 6. (MSN/MN 3008-23-B).
                                                1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript, with revisions in pencil. 3 insertions.
                                                Includes revised scripts for 19 radio programs of the Lucky Strike Program starring Jack Benny for 1954. 5-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1954 October 3-1955 January 9. (MSN/MN 3008-24-B).
                                                  1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                  Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                  • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1955 January 23-1955 May 1. (MSN/MN 3008-25-B).
                                                    1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                    Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                    • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1955 September 25-1956 January 15. (MSN/MN 3008-26-B).
                                                      1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                      Includes scripts as broadcast for 9 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program for 1955-1956. Also includes one script for The Chrysler Corporation Presents Shower of Stars, a monthly vareity show which Jack Benny hosted on November 3, 1955. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                      • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1956 January 29-1956 April 22. (MSN/MN 3008-27-B).
                                                        1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                        Includes scripts as broadcast for 7 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program for 1956. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                        • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1956 September 23-1956 December 30. (MSN/MN 3008-28-B).
                                                          1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                          Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program for 1956. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                          • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1957 January 13-1957 April 21. (MSN/MN 3008-29-B).
                                                            1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                            Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program for 1957. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                            • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1957 September 22-1957 December 29. (MSN/MN 3008-30-B).
                                                              1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                              Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of The Lucky Strike Program for 1957. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                              • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1958 January 12-1958 April 20. (MSN/MN 3008-31-B).
                                                                1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television program of The Lucky Strike Program for 1958. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1959 October 4-1960 January 10. (MSN/MN 3008-32-B).
                                                                  1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                  Includes scripts as broadcast for 8 television programs of Lux Liquid Soap for 1959-1960. Also includes script for the one hour special Greyhound Bus Company & Benrus Watch Company Jack Benny Hour aired November 7, 1959. 2-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                  • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1961 October 15-1962 January 14. (MSN/MN 3008-33-B).
                                                                    1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                    Includes scripts as broadcast for 13 television programs of The Lipton Tea Program for 1961-1962. 3-page summary at beginning of volume.
                                                                    • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1962 January 21-1962 April 22. (MSN/MN 3008-34-B).
                                                                      1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                      Includes scripts as broadcast for 13 television programs of The Lipton Tea Program and State Farm Insurance Program for 1962. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                      • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1962 September 25-1963 January 1. (MSN/MN 3008-35-B).
                                                                        1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                        Includes scripts as broadcast for 14 television programs of State Farm Insurance Program and The Jell-O Program for 1962-1963. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                        • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1963 January 8-1963 April 9. (MSN/MN 3008-36-B).
                                                                          1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                          Includes scripts as broadcast for 14 television programs of The State Farm Insurance Program and The Jell-O Program for 1963. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                          • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1963 September 24-1963 December 24. (MSN/MN 3008-37-B).
                                                                            1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript. 1 insertion.
                                                                            Includes scripts as broadcast for 14 television programs of The State Farm Insurance Program and The Jell-O Program for 1963. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                            • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1964 January 7-1964 April 21. (MSN/MN 3008-38-B).
                                                                              1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                              Includes scripts as broadcast for 15 television progams of The State Farm Insurance Program and The Jell-O Program for 1964. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                              • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1964 September 25-1964 December 25. (MSN/MN 3008-39-B).
                                                                                1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript.
                                                                                Includes scripts as broadcast for 14 television programs of The State Farm Insurance Program and The 1-A-Day Vitamin Program for 1964. 4-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                                • [George M. Balzer]. Scripts for The Jack Benny Program, 1965 January 8-1965 April 16. (MSN/MN 3008-40-B).
                                                                                  1 vol., 29 cm. Typescript. 1 insertion.
                                                                                  Includes scripts as broadcast for 14 television programs of The State Farm Insurance Program and Miles Labratories Program for 1965. 3-page summary of contents at beginning of volume.
                                                                                  • Manuscript insertion in volume 1 (10 October 1943 to 30 January 1944). (MSN/MN 3008-41).
                                                                                    1 item.
                                                                                    • Manuscript insertions in volume 2 (10 February to 4 June 1944). (MSN/MN 3008-42).
                                                                                      2 items.
                                                                                      • Manuscript insertions in volume 3 (1 October 1944 to 21 January 1945). (MSN/MN 3008-43).
                                                                                        3 items.
                                                                                        • Manuscript insertions in volume 5 (30 September 1945 to 27 January 1946). (MSN/MN 3008-44)
                                                                                          4 items.
                                                                                          • Manuscript insertions in volume 6 (3 February to May 26 1946). (MSN/MN 3008-45).
                                                                                            5 items.
                                                                                            • Manuscript insertions in volume 7 (29 September 1947 to 26 January 1947). (MSN/MN 3008-46).
                                                                                              3 items.
                                                                                              • Manuscript insertion in volume 8 (2 February to 25 May 1947). (MSN/MN 3008-47).
                                                                                                1 item.
                                                                                                • Manuscript insertions in volume 9 (5 October 1947 to 15 February 1948). (MSN/MN 3008-48).
                                                                                                  4 items.
                                                                                                  • Manuscript insertions in volume 10 (22 February to 27 June 1948). (MSN/MN 3008-49).
                                                                                                    7 items.
                                                                                                    • Manuscript insertions in volume 11 (30 October 1948 to 30 January 1949). (MSN/MN 3008-50).
                                                                                                      2 items.
                                                                                                      • Manuscript insertions in volume 12 (6 Februrary to 29 May 1949). (MSN/MN 3008-51).
                                                                                                        3 items.
                                                                                                        • Manuscript insertions in volume 13 (11 September 1949 to 15 January 1950). (MSN/MN 3008-52).
                                                                                                          3 items.
                                                                                                          • Manuscript insertions in volume 14 (15 January to 28 May 1950). (MSN/MN 3008-53).
                                                                                                            3 items.
                                                                                                            • Manuscript insertions in volume 15 (10 September 1950 to 14 January 1951). (MSN/MN 3008-54).
                                                                                                              2 items.
                                                                                                              • Manuscript insertions in volume 16 (21 January to 3 June 1951). (MSN/MN 3008-55).
                                                                                                                2 items.
                                                                                                                • Manuscript insertions in volume 17 (16 September 1951 to 20 January 1952). (MSN/MN 3008-56).
                                                                                                                  2 items.
                                                                                                                  • Manuscript insertion in volume 18 (27 January to 1 June 1952). (MSN/MN 3008-57).
                                                                                                                    1 items.
                                                                                                                    • Manuscript insertions in volume 20 (22 January to 7 June 1953). (MSN/MN 3008-58).
                                                                                                                      7 items.
                                                                                                                      • Manuscript insertions in volume 23 (31 January to 6 June 1954). (MSN/MN 3008-59).
                                                                                                                        3 items.
                                                                                                                        • Manuscript insertion in volume 37 (24 September to 24 December 1963). (MSN/MN 3008-60).
                                                                                                                          1 item.
                                                                                                                          • Manuscript insertion in volume 40 (8 January to 16 April 1965). (MSN/MN 3008-61).
                                                                                                                            1 item.