Cuz, I Am the President


Mark Higgins, President

New Year’s Eve – a night as filled with tradition as Christmas Eve or Halloween, especially during the Golden Age of Radio.  It wouldn’t be New Years without Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians playing Auld Lang Syne from the Roosevelt Grille in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City (which they did from 1929 until 1959, when they moved to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel until the 70’s).  It wouldn’t be New Years without Gildersleeve juggling girlfriends or Jack Benny being stood up by Gladys Zybisco.  It wouldn’t be New Years without Rochester trying to con Mr. Benny out of his tuxedo so that he could wear it to a party up in Harlem, or Connie Brooks trying to wrangle a date with Mr. Boynton, and ending up babysitting Mr. Conklin’s nephew.  Fibber McGee and Molly attended the Elks Club New Year’s Party, and Phil Harris made his New Year’s Resolutions.

While it seems like New Year’s was the territory of comedies only, actually everyone got into the act.  Here’s just a short list of some of them:

Family Theater – 1/8/48 – The Happiest Person in the World, with William Bendix as Father Time and Walter Tetley as Baby 1948

Sherlock Holmes – 12/31/45 – The Strange Case of the Iron Box

The Mysterious Traveler – 1/5/47 – New Year’s Nightmare

Quiet Please – 12/29/47 – Rain on New Year’s Eve

Casey, Crime Photographer – 1/1/48 – Hot New Year’s Eve Party

Suspense – 12/28/58 – The 32nd of December, and – 12/31/61 – The Old Man

Dragnet – 3/8/51 - The Big New Year’s (Why it was aired in March, I have no idea.)

One of the most interesting of the New Year’s traditions was begun by Jack Benny in 1939 – The New Tenant.  He performed it first on 1/1/39 – “Goodbye, 1938, Hello, 1939”, and again on 12/29/40 – “Father Time Rides Again”.  On 12/27/42, The New Tenant was again performed, and became an annual tradition for 12 years, until the show left radio.  It was also performed once on Jack’s TV show, in 1956.  It was the story of the Old Year packing up to move out to make room for the New Year.  While packing up, the previous year was reviewed by Old Year, along with Columbia, played by Mary, and Uncle Sam, played by Phil.  People are generally divided in their reaction to the show.  Most agree that it doesn’t fit Jack’s regular formula.  Jack explained it as an allegory, and most of the humor came from Jack trying to explain to Dennis what an allegory was.  It was probably more meaningful during the war years, and was sentimental with a message.  And it was generally dull.  However, it was an annual tradition with which Jack wrapped up the year.  Let me know what you think of it.

Guy Lombardo

Guy Lombardo

Jack and Rochester - New Years

Jack Benny and Rochester