The Spies Report
August 21, 2023 posted by Kamden Spies

Jack Benny and Walt Disney

Jack reads his daughter a Donald Duck book.

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.

Jack Benny and Mary Livingston, George Burns and Gracie Allen at the Premiere of Disney’s Snow White
(Photo: FilmicLight)

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).

Mary Kelly


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 ProgramJack 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.


  • One thing I forgot to point out: the tigers in the Benny sketch were trained by animal extraordinaire Ralph Helfer. Helfer also worked with Disney on a Tiger Walks and on Swiss Family Robinson.

  • This is marvelous. Thank you so much for this. Benny and Disney are two of my idols, so it is great to be reminded of how their careers intersected.
    The Jack Benny show movie parodies were — as far as I can tell — the first of their kind in popular culture. I think they paved the way for this kind of parody later in Mad Magazine, Carol Burnett, and Saturday Night Live. These features on the Benny show were smart-ass, irreverant, and did a lot of “fourth wall breaking.” They really reveal how these movies were beinig experienced at the time, which is precious.
    Thanks again!

  • In the lost “Three Little Pigs” radio parody, I’m sure Jack would have played the part of the pig with the fiddle. And the practical pig would have built his house, not with bricks, but with J-E-L-L-O, which only wiggled when the big bad wolf tried to blow it down. “Wait till the FHA hears about this!”

    • I’ll have to check Laura’s book. But that would make perfect sense – I think.

  • Thank you Kamden for the fun, informative article. I enjoyed it very much.

  • Since the first bit was on film instead of tape, going to guess they went to the Disney studio and used the “World of Color” set.

    Maybe I’m thinking of a different special, but thought the second sketch included Bob Hope as a chauffeur and rival for the nanny (Elke Summer?), who made her entrance floating in with an umbrella.

    • Nope! You’re right! The parody itself with Hope and Benny is vague in relation to Mary Poppins compared to the Snow White and Pinocchio parodies. But Mary Poppins was essentially why Walt was there in the first place. But yes, that’s correct.

  • With all the jokes about Benny ribbing on Fred Allen (and vice versa), you might be surprised to know that Walt once considered them to play the Mad Hatter and the March Hare in “Alice in Wonderland.”

  • Nice work, Kamden – and thanks for these great radio shows! I’m one of those boomer kids who enjoyed watching “The Jack Benny Program” and “Walt Disney’s Wonderful World Of Color” on TV way back when and love reading this. As you know, the tie-ins between radio (where Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Burns & Allen, etc. ruled) and animation, explored in Keith Scott’s Cartoon Voices of the Golden Age 1930-1970, are numerous.

  • The radio and TV clips you posted are taking “forever” to download, so I’ll just note that I used to have a copy of the JACK BENNY SHOW: “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters” on cassette tape. My wife “accidentally” decluttered it before I got a chance to have a friend transfer it onto CD – sadly. But, I remember that the “wishing well” scene was hysterical to me. Having Andy Devine do the “echo” voice by the well was brilliant comedy! I grew up watching Jack Benny on the TONIGHT SHOW and various TV shows he did in Benny’s later years before he passed away. Old-time radio “nostalgia” was very big in the early ’70s or so, so I gravitated towards Jack Benny’s almost “timeless” humor. My wife and even my 14 year old son love listening to the old radio shows and some of the old TV programs. Thanks for all this!

    • Well, I got to finally listen to “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters” on YouTube and that isn’t the show I was referring to at all! II did have that one in my collection though!) In the show I used to have a cassette tape copy of, there’s a small skit where Mary Livingstone as “Snow White” sings the “Wishing” song by the well and you hear Andy Devine’s voice as the “echo.” It was hilarious! I KNOW that I’m NOT having a “Senior Moment” here! Any old-time radio detectives out there who can help me identify this JACK BENNY PROGRAM? Thanks!

      • Mary and Andy sing “I’m Wishing” at the very end of the YouTube video embedded above, starting at 25:40. Are you saying there was another broadcast where they sang the complete song? That would have gotten annoying fast. “We get it! Andy can’t sing! Please make him stop!” I think it’s funnier that Mary hit Andy with the bucket after two lines and then quickly ended the show.

  • Yes, it was another vintage radio broadcast of THE JACK BENNY SHOW that I used to have in my cassette collection. It MAY have aired before the “Snow White and the Seven Gangsters” satire and it may have led Jack Benny and his writers to tackle a larger satire of SNOW WHITE. I didn’t watch the video yet, but I will to see how it compares! Thanks!

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