George Jessel?

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Richard M Roberts
Godfather
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George Jessel?

Postby Richard M Roberts » Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:11 pm

Okay SiCom Mafians, this Godfather is doing a bit of research and wants to pick your brains on a particular subject that has amazed and mystified this writer since he was a kid. here's the question:

What the hell's the deal with George Jessel?

I mean, I know there are El Brendel fans,Ben Blue comes off as an unfunny jerk, but I can see some other unfunny jerks liking him, but George Jessel?

Was George Jessel ever funny? Did George Jessel have any talent? How in the holy heck did George Jessel have a career that lasted nearly as long as Groucho Marx! I mean, he was still playing Vegas in the late 70's for cryin out loud, who went to see him?
Was this the ultimate deal with the devil for wealth and fame?

Was he a jerk in real life? Was he the greatest humanitarian of all time? What?What? What? and Why?

RICHARD M ROBERTS

David B Pearson
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby David B Pearson » Tue Aug 03, 2010 3:51 pm

Now you know how I felt about Raymond Griffith...

I also think Eddie Cantor's 1924 sound short bought silent comedy three more years.

Louie Despres
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Louie Despres » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:45 pm

I can't give you an answer, Richard, but I have posted a radio show with Brendel and Jessel on my website if you want to make a determination on who was the least funny:

http://www.elbrendel.com/2008/12/el-on-radio.html

Richard M Roberts
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Richard M Roberts » Tue Aug 03, 2010 4:50 pm

David B Pearson wrote:Now you know how I felt about Raymond Griffith...

I also think Eddie Cantor's 1924 sound short bought silent comedy three more years.


Yeah, but Raymond Griffith was actually good, and a number of folk feel that way. Who likes George Jessel? Where that obsessed Jessel collector out there? Speak out. I'm going to have to be explaining Jessel to the World soon and I can;t figure ut how the heck I'm going to do it.

And Louie, thanks for the link to the 30 MInutes in Hollywood show. I already have a number of those, and they drive home just how unfunny Jessel really is, but they seem to have a lot of great guest stars who rarely made radio appearances elsewhere (as well as his then-wife Norma Talmadge). But sitting through Jessel to get to the guest-stars is a real slog.

RICHARD M ROBERTS

Gary Johnson
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Gary Johnson » Tue Aug 03, 2010 6:22 pm

It had to of been his stage act. You've seen it Richard. He would stand on stage and have a running monologue talking to his mother on the telephone.
It's the same act that would be appropriated by Bob Newhart, among others. Jessel's act was Jewish oriented so that probably gave him a big following. And he was big in show biz circles for all of his charity work (along the lines of Danny Thomas - always getting hospitals named after themsleves) and for his many years as a toastmaster general which makes me think that he must of had a quick wit to survive that circuit.

Other than that I have read that he was a bit of an egotistical jerk off stage but I was never interested enough in him to follow up extensively on him.
Wasn't he married to a big star for awhile - like a Gloria Swanson-type?

Good luck with your homework.

Gary J.

Louie Despres
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Louie Despres » Tue Aug 03, 2010 7:31 pm

Gary Johnson wrote:Wasn't he married to a big star for awhile - like a Gloria Swanson-type?

Gary J.


As stated by Richard above, it was Norma Talmadge.

Richard, I hear you about Jessel on that show where Brendel appears, not funny in the least. I have no other run in with him ever that I can think of, and thank dog because of it!

Richard Finegan
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Richard Finegan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:56 am

I also have copies of several of his radio shows, and the thing I recall most about them, in addition to the already mentioned occasional interesting guest star, is Jessel's frequent complaining...on air...about how difficult it is to do a radio show. That's no fun to listen to. Okay George, if it's so hard, we ain't askin' you to do it!

Paul F Etcheverry
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Paul F Etcheverry » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:41 am

There's a Jessel film on the Paramount Comedy Shorts DVD http://www.amazon.com/Paramount-Comedy-Shorts-1929-Cavalcade/dp/B000CR7RAM/ref=sr_1_2?s=dvd&ie=UTF8&qid=1280904615&sr=1-2. Haven't seen it.

While aware that Jessel was a huge star of vaudeville (and buddy of such showbiz luminaries as George Burns), I remember seeing him on such shows as Mike Douglas and Merv Griffin, and even as a comedy geek kid, I could never fathom why anyone thought he was funny. He was the kind of obnoxious talk-show guest who ultimately be the target of spoofs on SCTV (Jessel would have fit right into "The Sammy Maudlin Show") and SNL. Always hoped someone would drag the whiny old coot offstage with a vaudeville cane and get Burns, Benny, Cosby, Newhart, Dangerfield or Carson on.

Eric Stott
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Eric Stott » Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:55 am

It must have had something to do with his stage presence. He's not the only case- just look at Harry Richman. It's hard to look at "Puttn' on the Ritz" and believe he was ever popular (though he could put a song over) and he's not particularly ingratiating on radio but he packed them into nightclubs for years.

Rob Farr
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Re: George Jessel?

Postby Rob Farr » Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:42 am

Speaking of comics whose appeal was a total mystery, remember Jack Douglas and his wife Reiko? The central joke of the act is that Douglas was old and dyspeptic and Reiko was young and bubbly and mangled her English. Douglas, whose reputation rested on his work a writer for Jack Parr and George Gobel, could barely stay awake during his appearances on Merv Griffin's show.
Rob Farr
"If it's not comedy, I fall asleep" - Harpo Marx


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