Sunday, April 09, 2006

NBC Radio Autographs-1933

Imagine someone whose name, age and gender is now lost to the mists of time walking through the NBC studios in New York on an April Sunday 73 years ago this week (the date 4-10-1933 is scrawled on the back) with two little mismatched pieces of paper and cardboard and a fountain pen asking for autographs. Here you see the result. Sunday night was, of course, the night Jack Benny was on and even though the show was just a year old, Benny was already a major player at NBC. Frank J. Black was the network orchestra leader during this period who did the music for Benny's show. Black's signature being so large as well as on top, he probably signed first. Jack Benny's impressive signature comes next and thrn his early announcer Howard Claney (learly a company man. Note the "NBC"). filled out the tiny cardboard. On the second piece we have Harry Salter, another network orchestra leader, Jack's wife and co-star Mary Livingstone (here sans her "e", confirmed by Laura Leff as coming and going in the early days), "Tiny" Ruffner, an NBC announcer, Tom Howard (later the host of IT PAYS TO BE IGNORANT) and James Melton, the great Metropolitan Opera and ocassional film star who, during this period, served as the requisite boy singer on the Benny program.

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