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carole lombard 02

Carole and Jack salute Zukor in silver

Posted by vp19 on 2015.09.08 at 01:12
Current mood: nostalgicnostalgic

On the set of "Swing High, Swing Low," Carole Lombard, co-star Fred MacMurray and director Mitchell Leisen receive an honored guest -- Paramount founder Adolph Zukor, far right. The year 1937 marked Zukor's 25th anniversary at the helm of the historic studio, and Paramount celebrated with a special radio event, whose master of ceremonies was both a Paramount player and by now a radio star of the first rank -- Jack Benny, shown later that year with Lombard and MacMurray when they were making "True Confession" (Carole's outfit and Fred's mustache give it away):

Last night, I uncovered an audio treasure and rarity -- that radio broadcast Benny hosted on Jan. 7, 1937 honoring Zukor's silver jubilee at Paramount, broadcast from Stage 8 at the Hollywood studio. It's also special in that it's the only radio broadcast I know of where Lombard and Benny work together. (While Carole occasionally was mentioned on Benny's top-rated program as an object of his good-natured desire -- he couldn't figure out what she saw in that Clark Gable guy -- she wasn't scheduled to appear on his show until Jan. 25, 1942, to help promote their upcoming movie, "To Be Or Not To Be." As we all know, fate had other plans.)

For much of the star-studded program, Benny asks in a running gag if any of his guests have seen Lombard; he boasts his dressing room is next to hers on the Paramount lot. (I have no idea whether this actually was true.) At about the 55-minute mark, Carole comes on (following Martha Raye), and she and Jack chat for a minute or two. He says he'd like to take her out after the show, but she insists she has a headache and begs off.

The program here is incomplete, only about 70 minutes long (it's cut off in the middle of a retelling of Zukor's years at the company, narrated by Lloyd Nolan) -- but you do hear from Cecil B. De Mille, Jack Oakie, Charles Butterworth, Bob Burns and W.C. Fields. You even hear Arturo Toscanini's orchestra perform. A link to the broadcast can be found at https://archive.org/details/AdolphZukorsSilverJubilee370107HostJackBenny

As for Zukor, one of the few moguls who didn't have very many enemies, he became chairman emeritus of the studio and lived to 103 before his passing in 1976.

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