Canadian-born, character actor Jack Carson would have celebrated a birthday today – this is in his honor.
In 1943 Jack was given his own show, The Jack Carson Show, a situation comedy in which he played a dumbed-down version of himself. The Jack Carson Show, which was sponsored by Campbell Soups, was officially titled “The Campbell Soup Show starring Jack Carson,” but very few referred to it as such. The show had a four-year run on NBC Radio and was a comedic take on Carson’s daily life.
Thematically The Carson Show is not particularly unique as many classic radio shows had similar plots with the differentiating factor being the show’s star. However, as you can see from the radio show ticket stub, it featured a fantastic cast of show business veterans. Dave Willock played Carson’s nephew Tugwell, a role reinvented from when Willock and Carson worked the vaudeville circuit years before. Willock was a great character actor who appeared in many films and TV shows between 1939 and 1983. Eddie Marr, another showbiz “regular” played Jack’s press agent and Arthur Treacher, one of Hollywood’s favorite butler types, played the butler on the show. Then there are a few of my all-time favorites who also appeared regularly – Agnes Moorhead, the genius of Mel Blanc and Irene Ryan (of The Beverly Hillbillies fame). All in addition to listening to Carson himself, which is always a treat. Anyone familiar with the actor, whose talent (I believe) remain underrated, can picture his familiar double-take as one listens to these radio episodes.
Now, for your listening pleasure, here are two episodes of The Jack Carson Show from 1946:
From October 30, 1946, here’s “Halloween Date with a Brazilian Girl.”
From November 6, 1946, here’s “Election Day” –
It’s worth noting that there was also a television version of The Jack Carson Show, but it had a very short run.
While starring on his radio show, Jack Carson played Wally Fay in Michael Curtiz’, Mildred Pierce (1945), perhaps his most famous role and was yet to make two more significant marks with appearances in George Cukor’s, A Star is born in 1954 and Richard Brooks’, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1958. One of my favorite of his performances is in Raoul Walsh’, The Strawberry Blonde from 1941 in which he co-starred with James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland and Rita Hayworth. But I could easily go on and on – he was a fantastic actor!
“Fans are people who let an actor know he’s not alone in the way he feels about himself.” – Jack Caron