The long running feud between comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen was one of the longest running gags and absolute audience favorites of the Golden Age of Radio.
The feud started quite simply in 1937 with a visit to the Fred Allen program of a young talented violinist who Allen said to the young talented player an ad lib comment about Benny's famously bad violin playing which got great laughs. This led to Benny making a comment back to Allen on his next show...Benny and Allen's writers went with the idea and started going back and forth with jokes at each other for years. Neither seemed to miss making a jab at the other on their weekly programs.
The joke feud went on for nearly 2 decades, Benny and Allen,s writers mined the comic gold of each star's on air characters; Benny was a skin flint with no talent and Allen a winey wind-bag. Audiences ate it up laughed hardy at all the ribbing the two did at each other.
They actually in real life were very fond of each other and at Fred Allen's sudden death in 1956 Benny explained how two people couldn't have had a long running gag feud without having a deep affection for each other, they had a great friendship rooted in their early vaudeville days and which grow a deep respect for the others talents.
Audiences loved the feud and it was part of the national lexicon of the 1930's and 1940's and even having other comics like Bob Hope and Eddie Cantor jump into and keep the feud growing. Benny's cast would openly rib Benny about most recent comments especially Mary Livingston and bandleader Phil Harris
The final "cherry on the sundae" moment was on Allen's program when he had Benny on for a "Queen for a Day" spoof were Benny was "King for the Day" and got a series silly prizes including his suit pressed while he was in front of the studio audience this brought the house down and was one the classic moments in radio history.
This episode below of the Jack Benny Program is a true gem, It' s a wonderful episode were Jack and Fred share how the other stole the main idea's for each others show it's so fun and clever.
Listen and enjoy!!!!
(One of my favorite memories of OTR from when I was a small child was a cassette tape that parents bought me that featured great comic moments of the Benny/Allen feud. I loved it and thought the ribbing was hilarious even decades later!!! and even at 8 or 9 years old!