Jack Benny and his radio show cast aboard a train at White Rock.
Jack Benny and his radio show cast aboard a train at White Rock.


Live from Vancouver

On April 23, 1944 Jack Benny did his famous NBC radio show live from Vancouver to be broadcast all over North America. He brought his regular cast up from New York: Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Rochester, Dennis Day and announcer Don Wilson. What made the show particularly notable was that Mary Livingstone (real name Sadie Marks), although born in Seattle, had grown up in Vancouver. Old timers will recall that Mary got a lot of comic mileage about Jack’s age. He was forever 39.

That led to exchanges like this:

Jack: You know, Mary, being in Vancouver brings back memories to me, too. When I was in vaudeville, I played the Orpheum Theatre many a time. Did you know that?
Mary: Did I know that? Jack, every time you played here didn’t you notice a little girl in the third row in the aisle seat, with long blonde pigtails and a pink ribbon in her hair?
Jack: Well, I’ll be darned! Was that you?
Mary: No, that was my mother.
Jack: Now cut that out!

A little later city mayor Jack Cornett popped in as a special guest and Jack began to pester him about the toll charge (25 cents) on the Lions Gate Bridge. Jack wondered if it might be possible to drop the toll so that he could see Grouse Mountain up close, instead of always through his telescope. Then the mood got serious for a moment as Jack echoed Mayor Cornett’s plug for Canada’s Sixth Victory Loan, a fund-raising campaign to help the war effort.

Jack Benny would visit Vancouver often, and was successful in later years in helping to raise funds to save the Orpheum Theatre.


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