Stars who were there
Schedule of performances
DAN'S REPORT ON THE 2000 CONVENTION:
"Friday morning--left Champaign, IL at 4:30 am with wife Kathy, 15-yr-old daughter Karen, and her friend Alice. Arrived at the Cincinnati Radisson at about 10:00 am Cincinnati time. Checked in, unloaded the car, hit the dealer's room.
Pleasantly surprised to see most of the regular dealers there; I expected a lot of them to be gone thanks to the Carl Amari lawsuit-threat blitz. Karen and Alice spent a ton of money (Karen loves Jack Benny; Alice bought Burns & Allen stuff).
Karen was so excited about meeting guest actor Tyler McVey that she was shaking. Tyler had appeared on the JACK BENNY SHOW!!! And she couldn't wait to hear his impressions of Jack.
Auditions for amateur talent were at 4:00. Karen and I auditioned, and we were lucky enough (well, I was lucky; she actually has talent) to get parts in two of the three shows. I was the announcer on X-1 and the murder victim on Mr & Mrs North; Karen was a wife in X-1 and a teenager with a complexion problem in a Woodbury soap commercial in Mr & Mrs North.
Near the end of the audition, Tyler McVey came in and Karen swooned. She got up the nerve to speak to him, and she asked him what Jack Benny was like. Tyler told her Jack was great. What parts did you play, she asked. I don't remember, he said--one of them was with Marilyn Monroe, but he didn't remember much else about it. After all, he said, when you've been in over 350 shows they tend to run together....
Tyler and his wife Esther were wonderful, very friendly and eager to talk with anyone who wanted to talk to them. Cincinnati is like that--a big, happy family where stars and fans intermix as equals for a weekend.
The Friday night program began with an Ethel and Albert (Peg Lynch and Bob Hastings), then the feature program was Frontier Gentleman, with Tyler McVey, Esther (McVey) Geddes, and Rosemary Rice. A fine show, and over too quickly.
The Boogie Woogie girls didn't make it this year, because the mother (sorry, don't know the names--she used a cane at last year's show) had a (benign) tumor removed from her hip. Her side was partially paralyzed because of the tumor, but word is that she's recovering nicely--even dancing a bit--and may be back next year.
Saturday was quite full for Karen and me--first was rehearsal for X-1, then the performance, then rehearsal for Mr & Mrs North, then the performance. Bob Hastings got a bit naughty in the rehearsal; too bad the crowd doesn't get to see what goes on....
Before the afternoon show (X-1), director Don Ramlow announced that the crowd was so big that there would be two performances. (The room seats about a hundred people). The McVeys led off each show with a very funny short satire on Dragnet full of alliteration, "The crook copped the clapper from the closet"--all hard "C's." Quite a tongue twister, and they pulled it off excellently. (Incidentally, I gave them a replacement kicker line, and they used it!) (For those of you there, I suggested they replace "I'd clobber him" with "I'd clean his clock.")
Then the McVeys did a Bickersons episode ("He wasn't knighted, he was INDICTED!"), and then the X-1 show was perforned. It was a Ray Bradbury show, Marionettes, Inc, very cleverly written with a surprise ending right out of the Twilight Zone. As announcer, I opened and closed the show, with nothing to do in the middle but enjoy the performances.
After the show, the audience exited and a new audience came in, and we did the whole thing again.
Since the show took twice as long as anticipated (two performances), there was very little time after the show until the rehearsal for the evening show. No matter, this is show biz and we're in the Big Time now!
The night program began with another Ethel and Albert, then Mr. and Mrs. North. I played Christopher Columbus, and I was killed off on page six of the script.
After the program there was a lot of mingling in the hotel's restaurant/bar. When I left Ed Clute was still holding court, and when I got up Sunday morning he was there again. (Don't think he stayed all night, but who knows). Lots of goodbyes, and the crowd went its separate ways.
My family agrees that the Cincinnati convention is the high point of our year. It passed Christmas and birthdays long ago. Let me extend a heartfelt thanks to everyone responsible for this marvelous get-together.
Dan Hughes, Champaign IL, firstname.lastname@example.org
Last year's convention
(Just click on the Cincinnati 1999 link on the above page).