Jack Benny parodied three major Disney achievements in his radio career. Walt also appeared on his television show. Jack Benny was arguably the most important comedian of the mid-20th century. He was the most popular comedian on radio during radio’s golden era and remained a popular figure on television throughout his career on the small screen. On Jack’s show, he regularly parodied the most popular films and television shows of the era. Parody has always been a popular way to entertain audiences and with Jack Benny’s wide ranging cast, the options could’ve been unlimited. Disney’s features were always a popular thing for radio adaptation, particularly with Pinocchio and Snow White.
Radio Parody #1: The Three Little Pigs. This is the only recording that I currently do not have access to. It is most likely one of the shows that are lost. In the show, Jack and his cast parody the popular Silly Symphony short subject.
Radio Parody#2: Snow White and the Seven Gangsters.
According to Jack Benny historian Laura Leibowitz this radio show was so popular that it was redone a second time due to popular demand. In the show, Jack and his cast parody Snow White by portraying the dwarfs as typical 1930s style gangsters, with Jack as their leader. Note that Jack makes a sly comparison to Don Wilson as Ferdinand the Bull. This reference was not only due to Don’s weight but was also because Wilson narrated the Ferdinand short. Wilson did other performances for Disney under Capital Records. Greg Ehrbar has discussed these records such as Grasshopper and the Ants and Little Toot in previous Animation Spin columns here on Cartoon Research. Also a side note: Jack Benny was one of the many celebrities that attended the opening premiere of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (see photo above).
There is a lot to be said about Pinocchio. As the world prepared in anticipation to watch Disney’s next film, it was the talk of the town. Jack Benny had two Pinocchio themed shows. One show was entitled Pinocchio’s Trailer. That’s the first one embed below. The other was called simply “Pinocchio.” A side note about Pinocchio, the Blue Fairy is played by an actress named Mary Kelly. Jack and Kelly nearly were married years before this and since their last meeting, Mary had a disastrous marriage and gained an incredible amount of weight. Taking pity on her, Jack gave her a job as a cast member until Mary Livingstone put an end to their reformed connection. Kelly was introduced to Benny by Gracie Allen and they ended up not getting married because Kelly’s catholic family forced her to turn down the proposal due to Benny being Jewish.
The Jack Benny Program – Jack visits Disneyland (1965)
This is a rare chance that we get to see Walt Disney the actor. In the show, Jack gets to see Disneyland and asks Walt for free tickets. The entire segment of the show seems to take place in Walt’s office. Note the map of Disneyland and Walt’s Oscar in the background. This is followed by a spoof of another of Walt’s great achievements, Mary Poppins.