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Jack Benny Scriptwriter Al Gordon Dies


Jack Benny

Al Gordon, the Emmy Award-winning comedy writer whose fast-paced material helped American comedian Jack Benny make the transition from radio to television in the 1950s has died. Aged-89, his death was confirmed by a spokesman for Cedars-Sinai Medical Centre earlier today following a string of health problems attributed to his old age.

Benny, who died aged 80 in 1974, worked with Gordon from 1950 on his debut on television until his death, with Gordon and his co-writer Hal Goldman noted for their ability to work wonders with Benny in their scripts. Mr. Gordon and Mr. Goldman joined the team of two other writers already on the show's staff, sam Perrin and George Balzer and would continually be referred to by Benny as the 'new writers' in a joking fashion. Together, the four were credited on 222 episodes before the show ended in 1965, with Gordon and Goldman going on to work together on a string of other programmes for a number of years after.

Born on April 21, 1923, Al Gordon lived his first seven years on a small farm outside Akron, Ohio, before he moved to the Bronx, New York. He is survived by his son, Neil; daughter, Jill; and four grandchildren. His wife, Charlotte, died in 2008.

Big-band Singer Tilton Dies


Jack Benny

MARTHA TILTON, a popular big-band vocalist best known for her recording of AND THE ANGELS SING with the BENNY GOODMAN orchestra in 1939, had died. She was 91.
Known as LILTIN' MARTHA TILTON during her 1940s heyday, she died of natural causes at her home in Brentwood, California on Friday (08DEC06).
During Tilton's time as a vocalist with Goodman, the band made history when it performed the first-ever jazz concert at New York City's Carnegie Hall in 1938.
After leaving Goodman's band in 1939, Tilton went out on her own and was one of the first singers to record for Capitol Records in the early 1940s.
Among her big hits as a solo artist during the decade were A STRANGER IN TOWN, I SHOULD CARE, I'LL WALK ALONE, THAT'S MY DESIRE, HOW ARE THINGS IN GLOCCA MORRA? and I WONDER, I WONDER, I WONDER.
During the World War II years, Tilton participated in two USO (United Service Organisation) tours with Jack Benny - to the South Pacific in 1944 and to Germany to entertain Allied troops right after the war ended in 1945.
In the mid-1980s, Tilton came out of retirement to be the featured vocalist in a big-band tribute to Goodman during the group's tour of Australia.

To Be Or Not To Be (1942) Review


Excellent
Decades before Roberto Benigni was romanticizing the Holocaust and Mel Brooks was supposedly courting Nazi controversy on Broadway, Ernst Lubitsch made To Be or Not to Be, a tart little comedy about the Nazi invasion of Poland which, a few glitches aside, was all the more daring for having been made during the war itself, when its outcome was hardly certain. Unfortunately, Brooks remade the film in his own manner some 40 years afterward, substituting most of Lubitsch's wit with his brand of shtick - not as awful as it could have been, but definitely not a patch on the original.

To Be or Not to Be opens in 1939 on the eve of war, with a Warsaw theater troupe rehearsing a satire called Gestapo, which has been ordered shut down by the government, for fear of offending Hitler. The troupe's stars are Maria and Joseph Tura - a self-absorbed flirt and a preening ham who wouldn't know acting if it smacked him in the face - who couldn't be less interested in the outside world, until it comes crashing in. Maria (Carole Lombard, all smoky elegance) is carrying on an affair with handsome pilot Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack, shockingly fresh-faced and clear-voiced), while Joseph (a nimbly verbal Jack Benny) seems almost more perturbed by the fact that Sobinski walks out on his Hamlet soliloquy every night than the fact that he's doing so to meet backstage with Maria.

Continue reading: To Be Or Not To Be (1942) Review

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