George Balzer

Writer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his nearly two-hour Archive interview, George Balzer (1915-2006) recalls his start in comedy writing, first for Bing Crosby's "Kraft Music Hall" radio program, and then on the radio show Burns and Allen where he first teamed up with writer Sam Perrin. He talks about the duo next working on "The Jack Benny Program" radio show, and later transitioning with Benny to his CBS television program of the same name. Balzer discusses the writing process on the The Jack Benny Program, and talks about some of the more memorable skits and comedy bits. Lastly, he outlines writing for Lucille Ball's sitcom Here's Lucy, as well as The Red Skelton Show, and The Don Knotts Show. B-roll consists of photos from his Jack Benny years (and featured stars Barbara Stanwyck, President Truman, and the Benny writers), as well as a photo with Sam Perrin and another with Bob Hope and President Nixon. Dan Pasternack conducted the interview on January 25, 2001 in Van Nuys, CA.

"It was not a big deal to make the move to television because for years on radio, we always had a picture in mind as we wrote our scripts. The problem was they were still trying to go on with jokes that didn't quite work on television."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
George Balzer on his first meeting with Jack Benny
George Balzer on career highlights and how he'd like to be remembered 
George Balzer on the first time he saw television
George Balzer on the Jack Benny and Fred Allen feud
George Balzer on working with Jack Benny Program ensemble player Mel Blanc
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his early life and influences; on his early interest in comedy; on early radio shows he listened to and getting in to writing for radio
On writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and meeting his writing partner Sam Perrin; on writing for the "Tommy Riggs and Betty Lou" radio show; on his first meeting with Jack Benny

Chapter 2

On joining the radio version of The Jack Benny Program as a writer; on a typical work week on The Jack Benny Program; on Jack Benny's relationship and rapport with his writers
On Jack Benny's wife, Mary Livingstone on The Jack Benny Program; on working with Eddie Anderson on The Jack Benny Program; on working with Frank Nelson on The Jack Benny Program
On working with Jack Benny Program ensemble player Mel Blanc

Chapter 3

On Dennis Day on The Jack Benny Program; on Phil Harris on The Jack Benny Program; on Jack Benny Program guest stars Ronald Coleman and Benita Coleman and coming up with bits for Jack Benny
On Jack Benny's character traits on The Jack Benny Program including Jack being cheap; on the first time he saw television and Jack Benny making the transition to television
On doing Jack Benny's classic radio bits on television on The Jack Benny Program; on some favorite Jack Benny Program episodes and guest stars

Chapter 4

On working on the Jack Benny Specials; on being nominated for Emmy Awards and winning; on the legacy of Jack Benny; on working on Here's Lucy, The Red Skelton Show, and The Don Knotts Show
On career highlights and how he'd like to be remembered; on various people he worked with in his career; on working with Fred De Cordova and Johnny Carson; on the Jack Benny and Fred Allen feud
On b-roll pictures from his career- with writing partner Sam Perrin; with Barbara Stanwyck; with Jack Benny and Harry S. Truman; with Bob Hope and Richard Nixon; with Tennessee Ernie Ford; with Jack Benny and Ralph Levy; the Jack Benny Program writers' room
Shows

Don Knotts Show, The

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George Balzer on writing for The Don Knotts Show

Emmy Awards, The (Primetime and Daytime)

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George Balzer on being nominated for Emmy Awards and winning an Emmy

George Burns and Gracie Allen Show, The

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George Balzer on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and meeting his writing partner Sam Perrin

Here's Lucy

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George Balzer on working on Here's Lucy

Jack Benny Program, The

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George Balzer on his first meeting with Jack Benny
George Balzer on joining the radio version of The Jack Benny Program as a writer
George Balzer on a typical work week on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Jack Benny's relationship and rapport with his writers on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Jack Benny's wife Mary Livingstone on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on working with Eddie Anderson on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on working with Frank Nelson on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on working with Jack Benny Program ensemble player Mel Blanc
George Balzer on Dennis Day on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Phil Harris on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Jack Benny Program guest stars Ronald Coleman and Benita Coleman and coming up with bits for Jack Benny
George Balzer on Jack Benny's character traits on The Jack Benny Program including Jack being cheap
George Balzer on Jack Benny making the transition to television with The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on doing Jack Benny's classic radio bits on television on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on some favorite Jack Benny Program episodes and guest stars

Jack Benny Program, The: "Christmas Shopping"

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George Balzer on working with Jack Benny Program ensemble player Mel Blanc

Jack Benny Specials

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George Balzer on working on the Jack Benny Specials

Red Skelton Show, The

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George Balzer on writing for The Red Skelton Show
Topics

Emmy Awards

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George Balzer on being nominated for Emmy Awards and winning an Emmy

Pivotal Career Moments

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George Balzer on his first meeting with Jack Benny

Pop Culture

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George Balzer on Jack Benny's character traits on The Jack Benny Program including Jack being cheap
Genres

Comedy Series

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George Balzer on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and meeting his writing partner Sam Perrin
George Balzer on writing for The Jack Benny Program (Part 1)
George Balzer on writing for The Jack Benny Program (Part 2)
George Balzer on writing for The Jack Benny Program (Part 3)
George Balzer on working on Here's Lucy
George Balzer on writing for The Red Skelton Show
George Balzer on writing for The Don Knotts Show

Music Shows & Variety Shows/Specials

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George Balzer on working on the Jack Benny Specials
George Balzer on writing for The Red Skelton Show
George Balzer on writing for The Don Knotts Show
People

Fred Allen

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George Balzer on the Jack Benny and Fred Allen feud

Eddie Anderson

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George Balzer on working with Eddie Anderson on The Jack Benny Program

Lucille Ball

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George Balzer on working on Here's Lucy with Lucille Ball

Jack Benny

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George Balzer on his first meeting with Jack Benny
George Balzer on joining the radio version of The Jack Benny Program as a writer
George Balzer on a typical work week on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Jack Benny's relationship and rapport with his writers on The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on Jack Benny Program guest stars Ronald Coleman and Benita Coleman and coming up with bits for Jack Benny
George Balzer on Jack Benny's character traits on The Jack Benny Program including Jack being cheap
George Balzer on Jack Benny making the transition to television with The Jack Benny Program
George Balzer on working on the Jack Benny Specials
George Balzer on the legacy of Jack Benny
George Balzer on the Jack Benny and Fred Allen feud

Mel Blanc

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George Balzer on working with Jack Benny Program ensemble player Mel Blanc

George Burns

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George Balzer on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and meeting his writing partner Sam Perrin

Johnny Carson

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George Balzer on Fred De Cordova and Johnny Carson

Ronald Colman

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George Balzer on Jack Benny Program guest stars Ronald Coleman and Benita Coleman and coming up with bits for Jack Benny

Fred de Cordova

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George Balzer on Fred De Cordova and Johnny Carson

Dennis Day

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George Balzer on Dennis Day on The Jack Benny Program

Phil Harris

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George Balzer on Phil Harris on The Jack Benny Program

Don Knotts

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George Balzer on writing for The Don Knotts Show

Mary Livingstone

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George Balzer on Jack Benny's wife Mary Livingstone on The Jack Benny Program

Frank Nelson

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George Balzer on working with Frank Nelson on The Jack Benny Program

Sam Perrin

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George Balzer on writing for the radio version of The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and meeting his writing partner Sam Perrin
George Balzer on his writing partner Sam Perrin

Red Skelton

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George Balzer on writing for The Red Skelton Show

All Interviews

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