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Thursday, January 02, 2014

Greetings and Salutations, Youse Guys and Gals


Radio Favorite Ben Bernie Takes The Loew's Stage

Nothing gave Ben Bernie a bounce like beer. His Pabst-sponsored radio program got a Blue Ribbon hypo when prohibition was scuttled in 12/32, permitting the company to put alcohol back in their brew by spring '33. From there, the Old Maestro conducted for a winner team, him the first on radio to sing praise of brewmeisters able finally to put a kick back in their beverage. The good news tip-toed in, Ben not saying "beer" outright during his 3-21-33 broadcast, but making it clear via buzz phrasing that Pabst would soon put a head on bland near-beer and malt they'd been Volstead-obliged to sell ("things are brewing"). Within a couple weeks, Ben openly advertised a stronger potion, and saw his ratings hop for the roof. The "Yowsah" man had been strong currency for vaudeville, bandstands, and radio. He'd stay hot for another decade after this. Gone since 1943, Bernie resurrected circa 1977 when pop artist Chic recorded Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah) and got BB's signature phrase onto Billboard's Top 100 as though the Old Maestro had never left. Bernie was also caricatured a lot in cartoons, and those played TV non-stop from the fifties forward.


So Loew's State in Cleveland had a triple volley for that summer show in 1934. Bands like Bernie's were especially appealing to younger audiences, said Variety. Presentation houses liked music aggregation too because it could fill a whole live portion --- no need for a usual four or five acts to support the movie. Such was another nail in the heart of vaudeville. Bernie and "all the lads" from his radio roost was all the entertainment a stage could want before lighting up the screen with, in this case, Hide-Out, an MGM programmer second-billed as it might have been had Loew's gone with a pic duo. What got notice and publicity in local press was Laurel and Hardy and their newest, Them Thar Hills, featured as it was on the Cleveland Plain Dealer's entertainment page (above), along with Bernie. If Ben was the cocktail, L&H were surely the shaker: lots on a fence would have tipped in Loew's favor upon seeing that those funnymen were in again. For purpose of the Plain Dealer and their cartoonist, it was Stan/Babe who were topping the bill.

More fruit of Prohibition ending at Greenbriar Archive: What, No Beer.

2 Comments:

Blogger Kevin K. said...

Is the Dick Stabile in Bernie's band the same one who would go on to be Martin & Lewis' musical director?

4:53 PM  
Blogger aldi said...

One and the same Dick Stabile. Coincidentally I saw Wake Up And Live, 1937, recently, starring Ben Bernie and Walter Winchell and dealing with their radio feud (entirely made up, of course. Radio back then loved these 'feuds' between stars). Fun movie.

5:59 PM  

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