rowan & martin's laugh in

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January 27,1970 Ringo Starr filmed an appearance on the hit show ‘Rowan & Martin’s Laugh In’ on their set in Burbank, California and made several cameo appearances, each appearance lasting roughly 30 seconds.

Ringo and the rest of The Beatles were fans (episodes started airing in the UK in 1968) Ringo introduced himself as 'Peter Sellers appearing in the role of Ringo Starr'  The episode aired for the first time: in the US on NBC, February 23, 1970 and in the UK on BBC 2 on April 12,1970.  The above are screen captures of mine from the video.

~Brenda

LUCY AND JACK BENNY’S BIOGRAPHY

S3;E11 ~ November 23, 1970

Directed by Herbert Kenwith ~ Written by Milt Josefsberg and Ray Singer

Synopsis

Jack Benny needs a private secretary to help him write his autobiography. Naturally, Harry volunteers Lucy.  Through a series of flashbacks we meet many of the women in Benny’s life – all played by Lucy.  

Regular Cast

Lucille Ball (Lucy Carter / ‘Mother’ / 'Zelda’ / 'Debbie’ / 'Mary’ / 'Lola’), Gale Gordon (Harrison Otis Carter)

Desi Arnaz Jr. (Craig Carter) and Lucie Arnaz (Kim Carter) do not appear in this episode, although they do receive opening title credit.

Guest Cast

Jack Benny (Himself) was born on Valentine’s day 1894. He had a successful vaudeville career, and an even greater career on radio with “The Jack Benny Program” which also became a successful television show. His screen persona was known for being a penny-pincher and playing the violin. Benny was a Beverly Hills neighbor of Lucille Ball’s and the two were off-screen friends. Benny previously appeared on “The Lucy Show” as Harry Tuttle (a Jack Benny doppelganger) in Lucy and the Plumber” (TLS S3;E2), did a voice over cameo as himself in Lucy With George Burns” (TLS S5;E1), and played himself in “Lucy Gets Jack Benny’s Account” (TLS S6;E6). This is the second of his three episodes of “Here’s Lucy,”  all playing himself. Benny and Ball appeared on many TV variety and award shows together. He died in 1974.

George Burns (Himself) was born Nathan Birnbaum in New York City in January 1896. He married Gracie Allen in 1926 and the two formed an act (Burns and Allen) that toured in vaudeville.  They had their own hit show “The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” first on radio then on CBS TV from 1950 to 1958, airing concurrently with “I Love Lucy.” After Allen’s death in 1964, Burns reinvented himself as a solo act. Burns played himself on a 1966 episode of “The Lucy Show.” In 1976 he won an Oscar for playing one of The Sunshine Boys. He was also known for playing the title role in Oh, God! (1978) and its 1984 sequel Oh, God! You Devil.  Burns also played himself on a 1966 episode of “The Lucy Show” (TLS S5;E1). He died at the age of 100.   

Mary Livingstone (Herself, uncredited voice) married Jack Benny in 1927 and the pair remained together until his death in 1974.  Initially an actor who appeared on Benny’s radio and television programs, she retired from show business in 1958, at the same time as Gracie Allen, wife of George Burns.  She died in 1983.

Michael Barbera (Jack Benny as a Boy) was a child actor who was 12 years old at the time of filming.  He accrued 18 screen credits before leaving the industry.

Ben Wrigley (Lola’s Butler) played Liberace’s Butler in “Lucy and Liberace” (S2;E16).  He was a British actor who appeared in My Fair Lady (1964) and Bednobs and Broomsticks (1971). Wrigley previously appeared as a ticket agent in “Lucy Flies to London” (TLS S5;E6).  This is the second of his three episodes of “Here’s Lucy.” 

Florence Lake (Trixie, right) did four films with Lucille Ball between 1936 and 1938.  She will do one more episode of the series as well as the 1974 TV movie “Happy Anniversary and Goodbye” starring Lucille Ball.  

Ginger (left), Trixie’s friend, goes uncredited and has no dialogue.  

Louis Quinn (Sailor) started out as a comedy writer for Milton Berle on radio and moved to acting in 1954.  He is best remembered as Roscoe in “77 Sunset Strip” (1958-63).  

It is possible that this character is based on Pat O'Brien, who was also a sailor and friends with Jack Benny.

Sig Frohlich (Sailor, uncredited) makes the second of his uncredited background appearances on the series.

Walter Smith (Sailor, uncredited) made a total of 13 mostly uncredited appearances on the series. He also did one episode of “The Lucy Show.”  

The other sailors and patrons of the Cafe are played by uncredited background performers.

Writer and Script Supervisor Milt Josefsberg was a writer on Jack Benny’s television program for a decade. Josefsberg wrote all three of the “Here’s Lucy” scripts that featured Benny.  

This episode was shot without the presence of a studio audience. In her DVD introduction to the episode, Lucie Arnaz says that this episode didn’t 'wrap’ until the early hours of the morning.  

The evening this episode first aired (November 23, 1970) Desi Arnaz Sr. (above with Ann Elder) guest-starred on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In,” the second half hour of which aired opposite “Here’s Lucy.”  

At the start of the episode, Harry is on the telephone with Jack Benny’s manager Irving Fein (inset). In real life, Fein was Benny’s manager and publicity director from 1947 to 1975.  Fein also managed George Burns later in his career.

Jack Benny’s present-day living room is a re-dressed version of Lucy Carter’s living room. The front door, fireplace, and kitchen door are all in the same location in both sets.  

The title of Jack Benny’s autobiography is… 

“The Women in My Life or I am Curious Jell-O” 

Jell-O was a long-time sponsor of Jack Benny’s radio and television programs. I Am Curious (Yellow) is a 1967 Swedish art film that was controversial and censored in many US cities due to sexual content. 

Chapter 1 ~ MOTHER

The first flashback is set in Jack Benny’s childhood home in Waukegan, Illinois where Lucy plays his mother In reality, Benny’s mother was named Emma Sachs Kubelsky, although it is not mentioned here. 

Little Jackie practices “Love in Bloom” on the violin.  “Love in Bloom” by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin was published in 1934 and became the signature song of Jack Benny.

When Mother (Lucy) says Jackie walks like her, he shouts “Now cut that out” which was one of Jack Benny’s common replies in his comedy routines. He says it later on in this episode.

Mother gets a telephone call from next door neighbor Mrs. Heifetz to complain about Jackie’s violin playing.  Mother claims that Jackie plays much better than her son Jascha.  Jascha Heifetz (1901-87, inset photo) is considered to be the greatest violinist of all time. Coincidentally, Lucille Ball was neighbors with Jack Benny and often could hear his violin practicing from her yard!

Chapter 2 ~ ZELDA

In the second flashback, Jack is in the navy and meets a waitress named Zelda. Benny really did serve in the US Navy during World War I.  The name Zelda was also used as a former girlfriend on a 1957 episode of “The Jack Benny Program.”  The character was played by Sandra Gould, who had appeared on two episodes of “I Love Lucy” and one “The Lucy Show” but is probably best remembered as the second actor to play Mrs. Kravitz on “Bewitched.”

Jack’s sailor friend wants to go to Roseland and dance instead of visiting another museum. Roseland was a popular New York City dance hall that opened in 1922 and closed in 2014.  

Chapter 3 ~ DEBBIE

The third flashback is set during Jack Benny’s vaudeville days.  Lucy plays Debbie Fink, his comedy partner. Fink was a surname Benny used in a 1961 episode of “The Jack Benny Show.”  

On stage, Benny plays “Sweet Georgia Brown” on the violin while Debbie dances the Charleston. The song was first written in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard. 

Chapter 4 ~ MARY

In the fourth flashback, Jack Benny is a radio star broadcasting with Mary Livingstone. In this sequence, Lucille Ball lip synchs to the voice of the real Mary Livingstone, who became Mrs. Jack Benny in 1927. She frequently performed with her husband on radio and television.

As part of the 'radio show’ Mary (Lucy) reads a letter from her mother who lives in Plainfield, New Jersey. Jack calls her “the midnight cowboy of New Jersey.” Benny is probably referencing the 1969 Oscar-winning film Midnight Cowboy.In reality, Mary Livingstone was born Sylvia Marcowitz in Seattle, Washington.

Chapter 5 ~ LOLA

In the fifth flashback, film star Jack Benny breaks up with blonde bombshell Lola Lavere (Lucy).  

In retaliation, Lola threatens to get the studio to re-issue The Horn Blows at Midnight. The 1943 film was a financial failure at the box office and Benny would often make fun of the fact on his TV and radio shows.

The striped wallpaper in the first flashback is the same as was seen in the first sequence in “Lucy and the Generation Gap” (S2;E12).  

Continuity! Lucy says she never thought she’d meet a big star like Jack Benny when in fact the two met in the second episode of the series when the Carters stayed at his Palm Springs home – for a fee!

Reel Life! The episode ignores the fact that Benny and Livingstone were married in order to play up the women in his life. The final scene has Benny double dating with George Burns and calling themselves swingers!

“Lucy and Jack Benny’s Biography” rates 4 Paper Hearts out of 5 

This is more of a Jack Benny Program than a Lucille Ball show, but it is enjoyable none-the-less.  There is a silly running gag that concerns Benny splitting his trousers and connected to the lyric “can it be the breeze” from his signature song, “Love in Bloom.”  There is a surprising joke at the end of the show that implies that the elderly ladies are taking birth control pills. Not the usual kind of humor for Lucille Ball, but she was trying to keep pace with the times. Silly, but enjoyable – and Lucy never looked better in her various wigs and costumes.