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CBS (ended 1967)

FRED ALLEN Forum

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    The1Factotum1i1

    [21]Jan 6, 2006
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    Linneman wrote:
    We know about his (very) high blood pressure and have no idea of his diet. However, surprisingly (at least to me), Fred was somewhat of a gym rat. He'd play handball and work out, battling his heredity. And he'd do this with "civilians", blue collar workers not in the business. (information from Taylor's 1989 biography "Fred Allen: his life and wit").

    You know, you're right. I have seen unpublished photos of Fred taken for a magazine article in the gym. He had the sparring helmet and gloves on in one, and in the locker room later. He's drenched in sweat, weakly smiling in his soaked sweater and messed up hair. He had a medicine ball too. I guess it's obvious why they weren't published, he looks like a wreck. But he obviously was aware he needed to stay healthy. The chewing tobbacco wouldn't have done much for his personal charm.

    Edited on 07/10/2006 10:23pm
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [22]Jan 7, 2006
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    I've got a breakdown of the first season of COLGATE COMEDY HOUR/THE COMEDY HOUR,(10 Sep 50- 24 Jun 51) and Fred's appearances as host are:

    1950
    24 September
    22 October
    19 November
    17 December
    He later appears as just one of the guest acts:
    1951
    14 January (starring Jerry Lester)
    15 April (starring Tony Martin)
    10 June (starring Jackie Gleason)
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    ymike673

    [23]Jan 8, 2006
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    I have seen Bob Hope's first three shows and since they were not sponsored by Colgate I do not believe there was any mention of who was on next weeks show. I have seen Jackie Gleason's Colgate appearance and he was great. He was still appearing on Dumont at this time and I'm suprised that NBC didn't try to steal him away after he appeared on the Colgate show.
    Edited on 07/10/2006 10:24pm
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [24]Jan 10, 2006
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    The alternate weeks would be the generically titled "THE COMEDY HOUR". Some of the stars, like Bobby Clark, seem to only appear on non-Colgate weeks.
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    ymike673

    [25]Jan 10, 2006
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    The alternate weeks would be the generically titled "THE COMEDY HOUR". Some of the stars, like Bobby Clark, seem to only appear on non-Colgate weeks.


    I would guess they replaced Bob Hope who was not interested in appearing to often on TV. He was more interested in doing a few shows a year.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [26]Jan 10, 2006
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    I don't know how Bob landed in that space; maybe he was just obligated to do X many NBC shows, maybe it was specially made just for him,because there are other one-and two shot hosts that season too.
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    ymike673

    [27]Jan 11, 2006
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    I don't know how Bob landed in that space; maybe he was just obligated to do X many NBC shows, maybe it was specially made just for him,because there are other one-and two shot hosts that season too.


    Those early appearances on "The Comedy Hour" may have been the closest Bob ever came to having a regular series. I believe even in the 60's when Bob hosted a series on NBC he only appeared on a few episodes.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [28]Jan 11, 2006
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    You mean BOB HOPE CHRYSLER THEATRE? this was a 1963 anthology series,where Bob did occasional alleged comedy stories. Nothing to write home about.
    I don't know why, but the old guard of comedy from Radio and early TV just seems to lose their mojo in the 1960's. They softened into a sort of common blandness, as if they weren't required to work hard on their material any more, the laugh track would carry them through.
    Bob's longtime screen partner, Bing Crosby had a comedy show of his own in 1964. It was a generic family sitcom that is amazingly light on personality; it's so laid back and easy going that it flat-lines.
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    ymike673

    [29]Jan 11, 2006
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    You mean BOB HOPE CHRYSLER THEATRE?

    The Chrysler Theatre was the show I was thinking of. By the 1960's almost all the former radio comedians had been around for over 30 years and were all in their 60's or 70's so its not suprising that they became bland. In many cases they were still doing the same material. I am a great fan of Jack Benny but if you see his shows from the sixties he is basiclly doing the same act that was funny in the 40's.

    Edited on 07/10/2006 10:25pm
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    W-B

    [30]Jan 11, 2006
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    ymike673 wrote:
    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    I don't know why, but the old guard of comedy from Radio and early TV just seems to lose their mojo in the 1960's. They softened into a sort of common blandness, as if they weren't required to work hard on their material any more, the laugh track would carry them through.
    Bob's longtime screen partner, Bing Crosby had a comedy show of his own in 1964. It was a generic family sitcom that is amazingly light on personality; it's so laid back and easy going that it flat-lines.

    The Chrysler Theatre was the show I was thinking of. By the 1960's almost all the former radio comedians had been around for over 30 years and were all in their 60's or 70's so its not suprising that they became bland. In many cases they were still doing the same material. I am a great fan of Jack Benny but if you see his shows from the sixties he is basiclly doing the same act that was funny in the 40's.

    This wasn't just limited to America, this phenomenon (I would've added Jackie Gleason viz his 1960's variety show, especially after he moved to Miami Beach in 1964, to the list.) In Britain you could argue Benny Hill belonged to that category. I prefer his material up to the 1970's, when he was very big on TV, film and ad parodies; impersonations of various personalities of the day, whether British, American or whatever; his playing multiple characters in one sketch, sometimes two different characters at the same time; his "blooper" sketches, which until the advent of shows like TV's Bloopers and Practical Jokes was one of the only chances one could see what goes wrong in TV and film production, and to what extent; his poems displaying his knack for wordplay (i.e. a poem written on a typewriter with two letters transposed, or with one letter missing, or a poem written in ye olde days with F's instead of S's); his songs; and his gallery of characters. (Plus, like Gleason and Milton Berle in Texaco Star Theatre days, Hill had complete creative control; unlike them, though, he was his own writer.) Though I find the period up to what I mentioned funny, the recent DVD The Lost Years reminds us that many of the gags and routines he did in the 1970's and '80's had been done by him way back in the 1950's and '60's. After 1979-1980, his show was revamped (no pun intended, given what I'm about to describe) to place more emphasis on T&A, with a group of female dancers (called "Hill's Angels") taking up more and more time on his show, as if to give him less time on screen and have the dance troupe carry more of the show. Unfortunately for Mr. Hill, this shift in strategy pretty much alienated half of the British population and left a distorted impression to this day that all the Hill show was about was skirt-chasing dirty old men.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [31]Jan 11, 2006
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    But I liked that version as well! Too much of TV has been so cravenly feminised, you'd think just garden-variety heterosexual behavior is some kind of anomaly.
    Sometimes I feel that (especially network)Television is specifically aiming for female viewership. Men are endlessly insulted, belittled and exposed as fakes of some sort or another by superior women, whether a comedy or a drama. Men and boys end up watching far raunchier or bloodier fare on cable or those damn video games. Benny's naughty cuties bouncing around gave the show a sense of fun, and in all, was really pretty harmless, prewar-era burlesque gags recycled for TV. He could border on vulgar, but adeptly could pull off without seeming gross because he seemed rather like a big silly boy teasing the adults.(at any age!)

    Political Correctness is a severe discipline, and Humor is far too subversive to be left unregulated. For all the many laughs and joy Benny Hill brought to us, he wouldn't be allowed within a mile of a TV studio today.That or he'd be so restricted by what won't offend Feminist sensibilities, he would lose his trademark style.
    I miss Benny. He had a truly rare talent, that of how to use a camera intelligently for comic effect. I understand he was an avid fan of silent slapstick comedy. It showed in his work. One of the brightest British TV stars ever.
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    W-B

    [32]Jan 11, 2006
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    But I liked that version as well! Too much of TV has been so cravenly feminised, you'd think just garden-variety heterosexual behavior is some kind of anomaly.
    Sometimes I feel that (especially network)Television is specifically aiming for female viewership. Men are endlessly insulted, belittled and exposed as fakes of some sort or another by superior women, whether a comedy or a drama. Men and boys end up watching far raunchier or bloodier fare on cable or those damn video games. Benny's naughty cuties bouncing around gave the show a sense of fun, and in all, was really pretty harmless, prewar-era burlesque gags recycled for TV. He could border on vulgar, but adeptly could pull off without seeming gross because he seemed rather like a big silly boy teasing the adults.(at any age!)

    Political Correctness is a severe discipline, and Humor is far too subversive to be left unregulated. For all the many laughs and joy Benny Hill brought to us, he wouldn't be allowed within a mile of a TV studio today.That or he'd be so restricted by what won't offend Feminist sensibilities, he would lose his trademark style.
    I miss Benny. He had a truly rare talent, that of how to use a camera intelligently for comic effect. I understand he was an avid fan of silent slapstick comedy. It showed in his work. One of the brightest British TV stars ever.

    And what I've noticed is, many of the Benny-haters who claim to object for the reasons you cited, see no problem with the envelope-pushing proclivities of Monty Python - which I find a bit too abrasive and strident at points for my taste (plus catering more to the sociopolitical agenda so favored in today's climate). And I've seen some bits on that show (i.e. the "visitors" sketch, or the "Dirty Vicar" sketch, or the one where an art critic is strangling his wife) which seemed more *demeaning* to women than what Mr. Hill was accused of - and certainly *not* "innocent" by any means. I mention this more in an observatorily relative sense.
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    Stopette

    [33]Jan 11, 2006
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    You do that. In truth, Life of Brian appeals to a lot of Unitarians and Jews and atheists and Americans who are half Persian and half Italian. Pretty soon Albert Brooks has a movie at Regal Cinemas in which he plays an American who visits Afghanistan on a quest to find the funniest person in the Islamic world. He asks one woman wearing a chador, "Is the country where a traitor gets chained to a ceiling vent for 12 hours, whipped forty times and punctured with a dental drill ? She replies, "No, that's Libya." If this movie makes a large profit without Americans dying in another terrorist attack, then Life of Brian will look pretty harmless. Maybe comedy can put a dent in the gap between Christians, Jews, Islamic people and the inevitable mulattos.
    Edited on 07/10/2006 10:31pm
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    billsav57

    [34]Jan 11, 2006
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    As the original author of this thread, I'd like to declare that it has gotten way off subject ... although I think Fred Allen might actually find some of the stuff funny.
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    W-B

    [35]Jan 11, 2006
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    billsav57 wrote:
    As the original author of this thread, I'd like to declare that it has gotten way off subject ... although I think Fred Allen might actually find some of the stuff funny.

    Which leads to this question: If Fred Allen were to try to make it in today's industry, with: a) his type of humor and b) the direction everything has taken in the years since his death, how far would he go in terms of "making it"? Just wondering . . .
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [36]Jan 13, 2006
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    Fred Allen wouldn't be allowed anywhere near a TV camera today, simply because he's hoplessly out of fashion. He embodied conventions that are no longer honored; he was witty, generous, and was a real gentleman.
    The modern breed of comedians can't even behave like adults. They are endlessly obsessed with their fatuous political views and fascinated by bodily functions. On the short list of their capabilities, number one is shock. Shock is an overabused replacement for real wit, satire or overall talent. And they are an angry bunch. They're always whining to get it accross that they have a right to be confrontational and crude and hateful.If there are comedy saints, Today's comics worship at the shrine of Lenny Bruce, not Fred Allen.
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    Stopette

    [37]Jan 13, 2006
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    Dick Van Dyke is witty, generous and a real gentleman, and he's allowed near TV cameras all the time. Many other comics avoid shock value. They include Bill Cosby and Sinbad. Because they're African American, few people say they "worship at the shrine of Lenny Bruce." Mr. Bruce himself was hardly "obsessed with ... fatuous political views and fascinated by bodily functions." Hugh Hefner and Steve Allen defended his routines many times because they always addressed religion and poverty in an intelligent way without being rude. At a distance of forty years the New York City judicial system issued a pardon to Lenny for all offenses for which he was arrested. If you, The1Factotum1i1, claim to outsmart all those attorneys, judges and Hugh Hefner -- who also gave a voice to Malcolm X -- then you have failed. YOU come across as "angry." They don't. Lenny Bruce was hardly the only controversial comic of his day. There was Mort Sahl and there was Jackie Mason. Buddy Hackett talked about feces and genitalia at the Sahara Hotel in Las Vegas. Dorothy Kilgallen had to have known that when she plugged his engagement there on October 24, 1965. Mark Goodson, Michael Dann and other CBS executives were remiss if they didn't know that. As usual, if the moderator deletes this, he or she deletes The1Factotum1i1 as well. The moderator got tougher yesterday. That's okay. Nostalgia buffs don't need me to see right through The1Factotum1i1. I have a life, and I have accepted that the year 1960 ain't comin' back.
    Edited on 07/10/2006 10:34pm
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [38]Jan 17, 2006
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    Gee, I didn't realize I was claiming to outsmart Attorneys, Judges and of all people, Hugh Hefner, who you've carefully noted, gave a voice to Malcom X, And then, wouldn't you know, I failed at it!
    The notice that there were in fact controversial performers yon decades hence, as well as the fact that old men with 40 or 50 year long careers or more recent contenders that play it clean was fascinating too. But I just wasn't convinced this valuable knowledge refutes my assertion about the present day comedians.
    When you say Nostalgia buffs don't need you to see through me, that's wrong- don't sell yourself short-we do need you and your rational, sane enties to tell us just where we're going wrong, and why. Please explain more!
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    Fat-tote-bag

    [39]Jan 17, 2006
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    The1Factotum1i1 wrote:
    Gee, I didn't realize I was claiming to outsmart Attorneys, Judges and of all people, Hugh Hefner, who you've carefully noted, gave a voice to Malcom X, And then, wouldn't you know, I failed at it!
    The notice that there were in fact controversial performers yon decades hence, as well as the fact that old men with 40 or 50 year long careers or more recent contenders that play it clean was fascinating too. But I just wasn't convinced this valuable knowledge refutes my assertion about the present day comedians.
    When you say Nostalgia buffs don't need you to see through me, that's wrong- don't sell yourself short-we do need you and your rational, sane enties to tell us just where we're going wrong, and why. Please explain more!


    But I'm not a mental - health counsellor at the hospital in Elgin, Illinois, and that is what you need. Whatever hopes you had of enlightening people outside of this blog about What's My Line disappeared into your troubled mind long ago. All you do is sit there typing.

    Factotum, you will find that "kindness is measured by need" as Linda Ellerbee said in her highly publicized 1985 book on television news "And So It Goes." When she competed for a job against Jessica Savitch during the 1978 East Coast blizzard, the staff of a Manhattan hotel let her sleep in a lobby chair after the blizzard forced the staff to give her reserved room to somebody else. The next morning, they let Linda wash up at a sink in the ladies' room near the lobby. When she showed up at 30 Rock, she learned that Jessica had changed her mind and didn't want the job.

    Factotum, before you start picking on Jessica Savitch as you have picked on others who achieve more than you, remember -- "Kindness is measured by need."

    If an 80 - year - old complains about the foul language of stand - up comedians he / she sees while channel surfing, then somebody from Meals On Wheels probably would be kind enough to set him / her up with DVDs of Sinbad, who rarely is offensive. But if a teacher who is 36 going on 37 makes the same complaint to people at the school cafeteria, they won't help him. They'll think he's irresponsible at best (Who ever heard of a teacher who can't find good entertainment ?), and, depending on how much complaining they are forced to hear, mentally troubled at worst.

    Kindness is measured by need, and you can tell by looking at somebody if they are senior citizens who need kindness from time to time. And you can tell if somebody needs professional help instead of sympathy.
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    The1Factotum1i1

    [40]Jan 18, 2006
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    Well, the Linda Ellerbee and Jessica Savitch story was very informative. And it made it's point so elegantly, didn't it?
    And the important lesson about kindness. You're such an authority on kindness. I'm sure all who get through your last message will avoid complaining about foul language to cafeteria workers, especially if they are 30-something teachers. Who wants to look "mentally troubled" to Cafeteria workers, especially? They might short change your pudding!
    I don't think I'd want a mental-health counsellor at the hospital in Elgin, Illinois. What other towns do you have?
    Please keep it. It's good entertainment for us, and great therapy for you.
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