Canadian-born, character actor Jack Carson died on this day in 1963 and it’s time I dedicate something to the ever-entertaining and popular actor. I think you’ll agree that spending a bit of time with Mr. Carson is not a bad way to kick off a new year. Jack Carson is admired by all in classic film circles as he could always be counted on to improve whatever movie he appeared in. The same goes for his prolific radio career, which began with an appearance on Bing Crosby’s Kraft Music Hall in 1938.
In 1943 Jack was given his own show, The Jack Carson Show, a situation comedy in which he played a dumbed-down version of himself. The Jack Carson Show, which was sponsored by Campbell Soups, was officially titled “The Campbell Soup Show starring Jack Carson,” but very few referred to it as such. The show had a four-year run on NBC Radio and was a comedic take on Carson’s daily life.
Thematically The Carson Show is not particularly unique as many classic radio shows had similar plots with the differentiating factor being the show’s star. However, as you can see from the radio show ticket stub, it featured a fantastic cast of show business veterans. Dave Willock played Carson’s nephew Tugwell, a role reinvented from when Willock and Carson worked the vaudeville circuit years before. Willock was a great character actor who appeared in many films and TV shows between 1939 and 1983. I remember him specifically from Green Acres in which he appeared playing lots of different characters, but his list of credits is long. Then there’s Eddie Marr, another showbiz “regular,” who played Jack’s press agent and Arthur Treacher, one of Hollywood’s favorite butler types, played the butler on the show. You also get a few of my all-time favorites appearing regularly -the great Agnes Moorhead, the genius of Mel Blanc and the funny Irene Ryan (of The Beverly Hillbillies fame). All of that in addition to famous guest stars and, of course, Carson himself who’s a treat in any medium. Anyone familiar with the actor, whose talent (I believe) remains underrated, can picture his familiar double-take as one listens to these radio episodes.
Now, for your listening pleasure, The Jack Carson Show…
- From January 8, 1947 “Movie Magazine Interview”
- From February 13, 1946 with guest Frank Sinatra
- From October 23, 1946 “Trouble With the Phone Company”
- From November 13, 1946 “Meat Shortage”
- From December 11, 1946 with guest Dennis Morgan
It’s worth noting that there was also a television version of The Jack Carson Show, but it had a short run. The radio show is definitely worth your time for silly, charming fun.
While starring on his radio show, Jack Carson played Wally Fay in Michael Curtiz’s Mildred Pierce (1945), perhaps his most famous role. He was yet to make two more significant marks with appearances in George Cukor’s A Star is born in 1954 and Richard Brooks’, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1958. One of my favorite of his performances is in Raoul Walsh’s The Strawberry Blonde from 1941 in which he co-starred with James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland and Rita Hayworth. But I could easily go on and on – he was a fantastic actor!
“Fans are people who let an actor know he’s not alone in the way he feels about himself.” – Jack Caron
Many movies just glowed because Jack Carson was in them! He was an excellent, and in my opinion, much under-appreciated actor. What would “The Male Animal” be without him? ! I think many of his skills were best shown in “Roughly Speaking”. I join you in remembrance of this fine man and actor.
Jack Carson is one of my favorites. THE GOOD HUMOR MAN from Columbia Pictures in 1950 is the first film I can remember seeing Jack in. Lots of great cartoon-like gags in this from a script by former animator and future director Frank Tashlin. Jack is great in this along with his future wife Lola Albright and soon-to-be Superman, George Reeves.
Oh wow. I haven’t seen that one in years. Thanks for bringing it to mind.
I loved his comic timing and his movies with Dennis Morgan, but his role in Mildred Pierce with Joan Crawford blew me away! Great actor.
I knew nothing about Carson until I started watching TCM regularly a few years ago. He seemed to be in every great old movie. He’s also memorable in an early “Twilight Zone” episode (probably just before he died). He played a talkative used car salesman, a part just perfect for his extroverted personality. The episode had the feel of a staged play, and one can really appreciate what a fine actor he was.
Great post! I’ll get listening shortly. I remember Jack in A Star Is Born. Good dramatic performance in sharp contrast to his comedies.
Ive been listening more to podcasts and old radio shows when preparing dinner and cleaning up after dinner. Thank you so much for these links to the Jack Carson show!!! I know what I’ll be listening to tonight!!
I particularly loved Jack Carson in “Mildred Pierce”, although I always enjoyed him in anything he did! Even though he was most famous for his bumbling comedy stuff, he did a fantastic job in that role of a sarcastic, double-crossing guy who seems to be light-hearted at first, but shows his other face also in a creepy way! Thanks for the clips!
Thanks for posting these, Aurora. I just listened to the first one, where he’s interviewed by a journalist and Arthur Treacher discovers country music. I’ll be back throughout the week to listen to the other episodes.
Classic radio actors are SO talented. They had credible inflection and emotion, which isn’t so easily found these days. They’re always a pleasure to listen to, no?
What a delight here! I’m really looking forward to listening to the one with Dennis Morgan. Love them together! (Bye the bye, clicked on the Dave Willock link to see if I’d recognize him from Green Acres, too – I did, and learned he was also the narrator in the Wacky Races cartoons! Finding out all these little gems are such a treat 🙂 ) Happy New Year, too!
Aurora, thank you for some good memories of past great character actors. I listened to the January 8, 1947 episode of THE CAMPBELL SOUP SHOW, STARRING JACK CARSON. Those wonderful voice actors that we would later grow up with by viewing 1950’s-1970’s television. Dave Willock, Arthur Treacher, and Irene Ryan. They were so talented.
Jack Carson was always the best at acting the self centered blowhard, who would lose his girl to Dennis Morgan. Although, he did manage to marry Ginger Rogers in THE GROOM WORE SPURS(1951).
Thanks so much. Not only will I be enjoying the program, I now have a craving for Campbell’s tomato soup!
The hubby has distant cousins in Carmen, Manitoba so he likes to pretend he is somehow related to Jack Carson. My daughter likes to refer to Carson as Officer O’Hara from the first movie she saw with him.