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The Bootleg Files: The Great Radio Comedians

BOOTLEG FILES 719: “The Great Radio Comedians” (1972 documentary featuring George Burns, Jack Benny and Edgar Bergen).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It seems to have fallen through the proverbial cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE:
Unlikely.

From the late 1920s into the late 1940s, Americans relied on radio for their home entertainment. There was a wide variety of original programming to choose from, but many listeners gravitated to the weekly comedy series. Considering the heyday of the medium coincided with the grim years of the Great Depression and World War II, the comedy shows offered much-needed happy distraction from the problems and crises taking place across the country and around the world.
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The Bootleg Files: The Jack Benny Birthday Special

BOOTLEG FILES 673: “The Jack Benny Birthday Special” (1969 TV special).

LAST SEEN: On YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO:
None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: It fell through the cracks.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.

During the mid-1960s into the early 1970s, Jack Benny made a number of TV specials that aired on NBC. Most of these offerings were pleasant but entirely forgettable, and Benny often seemed to be dialing in his performances.
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The Bootleg Files: Jack Benny’s First Farewell Special

BOOTLEG FILES 601: “Jack Benny’s First Farewell Special” (1973 television production featuring Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and Dean Martin).

LAST SEEN: It can be found on YouTube.

AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.

REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: No one wants to put it out on commercial DVD.

CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: There is no great push to get this released.

I don’t know who came up with the term “special” to define the one-shot variety productions that pockmarked television broadcasting from the 1950s through the mid-1980s. For the most part, these offerings were anything but special – most were forgettable, some were dreadful, but only a handful possessed the emotional or artistic quality that truly deserved to be called special.

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