Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Thursday, August 23, 2018


On May 2, 1932, The Canada Dry Program premiered on the NBC Blue Network from radio station WJZ in New York City.  The Master of Ceremonies was none other than Jack Benny.  This was Benny's first regular radio appearance.  (Benny first appeared on radio eight months earlier with a guest appearance on RKO Theater of the Air; Benny's second -- and final, prior to The Canada Dry Program -- radio appearance was a guest appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on March 29, 1932.)  

Unlike Benny's later radio and television programs, The Canada Dry Program was basically a musical program with some comic comedy rather than a sitcom or a variety show.  The half-hour show ran for 78 episodes, ending on January 26, 1933.  Featured for (roughly) the first six months were George Olson and His Orchestra and vocalist Ethel Shutta.  (Shutta was Olson's wife, so when he left the show, she went with him.)  Olson was replaced by bandleader Ted Weems.  Shutta was replaced by various vocalists.  The initial announcer for the show was Ed Thorgeson.

Mary Livingston joined the show at the end of July, portraying a "fan."  Reportedly, both Mary and Don Wilson were there from the first broadcast but this, perhaps, should be taken with a grain of salt.  One of Benny's duties as Master of Ceremonies was to read the commercials -- a task that Don Wilson would take over in later shows.

The show linked below -- the premier show -- is the only complete episode in circulation;  Also in circulation are excerpts from two other episodes.  All else has been lost to time.

Don't expect too much from Benny.  This was his first real radio gig and the format was not really suited for his comedy. It's safe to say that The Canada Cry Program was not a runway hit.  Nonetheless, as a die-hard Benny fan, it is thrilling for me to listen to this early part of his radio career.

Give a listen.

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