+ Jack Haley's Log Cabin Jamboree had aired from 1937 to 1938 as a variety/revue format program. The departure of General Food's 'Log Cabin' brand sponsorship left Haley's program without a sponsor during the Spring and Summer of 1938. But it was also undoubtedly Haley's selection for the role of the 'Tin Man' in The Wizard of Oz, under production throughout 1938, that contributed to the Jamboree's premature departure. Premiering on October 14, with the Fall Season of CBS' offerings for 1938, The Wonder Show, starring Jack Haley aired in the familiar mold of the more popular variety programs of the era. Haley was aided by his wise-cracking, redheaded hostess, Lucille Ball, sultry torch songstress, Virginia Verrill, voice-master and impressionist Artie Auerbach, popular band leader Ted Fio-Rito, and soon-to-be Radio/Television legend-in-the-making, Gale Gordon as announcer and commercial spokesperson. Borrowing from earlier sponsored programs, Continental Baking, employing a variation of their "Hurrah for the Wonder Bakers" theme song, reinterpreted as "Yo Ho! Yo Ho! Yo Ho! Yo Ho! We Are the Wonder Bakers," the theme aired live for each broadcast, performed by the "The Happy Wonder Bakers." Jack Haley, generouslly offering himself up as the butt of the overwhelming number of gags and jibes throughout the canon, suffered indignities in equal measure from the entire cast--including even Ted Fio-Rito's wife on at least one occasion. And of course the guest stars throughout the series contributed to the jibes as well. The series' formula generally comprised some comedic patter during the intro, followed by a song by Virginia Verrill or an orchestral piece by Ted Fio-Rito. More 'schtick' would follow until the mid-program commercial break, followed by a comedy sketch and a duet from Verrill and Haley. Most broadcasts would conclude with a musical piece by Ted Fio-Rito, leading out to the closing commercial pitch and closing credits. It generally fell to young comedienne, Lucille Ball, to provide the transitions throughout the program, aided by Gale Gordon's commercial spots and/or expositions. The formula worked as well as it did owing primarily to Jack Haley's, by then, almost universal affection bestowed on him by North American audiences. Much in the mold of Dennis Day's role throughout the Jack Benny programs and Day's own various series', Jack Haley seemed to almost revel in the derision he received from his fellow cast members. The humor and irony was of course accentuated by Haley's seeming imperviousness to the continual jibes. Indeed, the overwhelming number of sketch pieces throughout the canon featured one or another of the redoubtable characters from Jack Haley's own 'Family Album,' which, even more remarkably, stretched back as far as the height of the Roman Empire with 'Julius Caesar Haley'--admittedly something of a stretch for even a life-long Roman Catholic such as Haley. Apart from further expanding Jack Haley's own beloved stage persona and popularity, the canon prominently featured Gale Gordon's versatility, gave Lucille Ball's career another nudge, and also included Oliver Hardy's first-ever appearance over Radio. Gale Gordon, by that time in his career usually cast in character or action/adventure roles over Radio, clearly demonstrated his brilliantly droll--and equally snippy, quippy--comedic talents. Lucille Ball shined like a bright penny throughout the series. Even bandleader Ted Fio-Rito showed his comedic talents, cast in the unlikely role of a bandleader who could read music better than English. With its sublime mix of vaudeville, classic sketch comedy, and character continuity, Jack Haley's The Wonder Show might well have run for any number of further seasons were it not for the exponentially increasing fame of at least three of the canon's cast members. So it was that after only twenty-six installments, The Wonder Show departed the air on a demonstrably high note--and with a good time had by all. What more could one ask?
- Radio Shows
Please enjoy these 2 old time radio episodes:
|12.23.1938||jack haley the wonder show christmas party|
|12.30.1938||jack haley the wonder show francois haley|