Radio stars (July 1933)

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RADIO STARS Through the Years with Eddie Cantor your father. But you're veterans at this game and I'm an amateur. What you say goes with me." After that, they loved him. So it began. ■Eddie was no more nervous than before the opening of any new show. After all, he was just be- ing himself in front of the microphone. So also began the new Three Muske- teers, Eddie and Jimmy and Rubinoff. "I'd give my right arm for Eddie," says Jimmy feelingly, "and I know he'd do the same for me." EDDIE makes Rubinoff the butt of his jokes, but so adroitly that he creates sympathy for him. He is build- ing them, Jimmy and Rubinoff, as much as he builds himself. Eddie and Jimmy work from a skele- ton script. But Jimmy says Eddie's best gags just pop out. And they never re- hearse their solo spots. Spoils the fresh- ness. Eddie is forever pulling tricks just to give Jimmy and the other boys a laugh. Once he came out in pajamas. And once in a Santa Claus suit. The only thing that bothers Eddie about radio is the fact that he has to stand still in front of the microphone when he sings, instead of hopping around. Of course it's harder than the stage, because, as he says, "You can't change a gag if it's no good. Your show opens and closes the same night." I asked Eddie how he evolves his gags. "I always start with a location," he declares. "I try to create a picture of some place where we all are. Then the situations grow naturally out of that. "For example, we are in a customs' house landing from Europe. I say I have eighty bottles of perfume. The customs officer asks me if they're for mv wife, and I sav, no, they're for Rubinoff. He says: 'What! Eighty bot- tles of perfume for Rubinoff? I can't imagine such a thing!' And I reply: 'Yah, you've never been around Rub- inoff !' " p DDIE'S friends are by no means con- fined to performers. They run the gamut from the Prince of Wales to the lowliest page. Having climbed to the top, Eddie is still one of the boys. Many a time he'll take the whole Chase & Sanborn orchestra down to the drug store for a coke after rehearsal. Garbo wraps herself in a cloak of in- accessibility. Eddie sees everybody. He takes his own phone calls. You'll find about as much privacy in Eddie's dressing room as in Grand Central. Callers come in a continuous hetero- geneous stream: gag men, composers, actors, song pluggers, pals and pan- handlers, old neighbors from Eldridge Street. And although his day is about twice as full as yours or mine, he finds time, somehow, for all them. He finds time, too, for pleasant little things. Sending his car to bring a crip- pled kid to the theater. Or making a (Continued from f>u</e 34) record to sell for the unemployed. And is he smart? Well, Mr. Samuel Goldwyn, one of the cannier producers, put up one million dollars of his own money to back Eddie's say-so that a picture about the exploits of a Brook- lyn bullfighter with himself in the title role would be a box office riot. At this moment, "The Kid from Spain" is prov- ing the soundness of Eddie's judgment. A year ago February, when Eddie had built himself up to be one of the top drawing cards of radio, perhaps you were surprised when suddenly, without warning, he went off the air. He had to go to Hollywood to make a picture. So he said. But you can make a picture, even a musical, in five weeks' shooting time, with three weeks' rehearsal. And Eddie was gone until October. The real reason is that Eddie was smart. He knows that if you have a turkey dinner every Sunday for a year, you'll get tired of it. He also knows that if you have Eddie Cantor every Sunday for a year, you'll get tired of him, no matter how much you like him. That's the real reason behind his dis- appearance. And I wouldn't be sur- prised if he dropped out of sight again for a while before very many months. But he'll be back, too, just about the time your appetite is whetted up for more of the antics of Eddie and Jimmy and Rubinoff. And as a result, he'll still be in there when man)' of the lesser comedians are forgotten. I cannot close this little sketch of Eddie, without a mention of Frenchy, because I feel that had it not been for Frenchy, we would have no Eddie Can- tor today. Frenchy used to be a mas- seur at the Lakeville Golf Club in Great Neck. One day he took the kinks out of Eddie's shoulder and remained to take the kinks out of his life always. For one thing, he marie Eddie sleep. Eddie has never been very much of a sleeper. He thinks up jokes in the mid- dle of the night. And noise is his bete noir. His nerves are as taut as banjo strings. Once he changed his hotel six times in as many nights be- cause each time he found they were putting something up next door. Now Frenchy gives him a rub every night when he's through and Eddie sleeps. Frenchy starts him off in the morning with a rub and a glass of orange juice. And every time Eddie passes a delica- tessen, Frenchy grabs his arm, because the boyhood passion for sausage and pickles is still strong in Eddie, and his regime calls for a strict diet. Erenchy likewise looks after the Can- tor suits, all double-breasted and blue or gray, no loud checks. Besides that he say "No!" for Eddie, when Eddie ought to say it and can't; hence, Eddie gets a little peace when he needs it and keeps very fit in spite of a gruelling pro- gram that calls for four or five per- formances a day and as many rehear- sals, to say nothing of the hours of un- finished business and ad lib clowning. As this was being written, four come- dians were packing them in on Broad- way in a bad season. One is Georgie Jessel. The other three are Eddie Can- tor. Literally. While his picture, "The Kid from Spain" was standing them up at one theater, Eddie was playing with Jessel in person, was standing them up at an- other, and on Sunday night, he was broadcasting before a packed house at the Times Square studio. The skinny, pop-eyed kid from the East Side has shown that he can take it, and laugh, and make the world laugh with him. And beat the Cantor Curse. Ed Wynn recently had an anniversary—the occasion being the completion of his first year as a radio player. Did you know that, as Fire Chief, Ed Wynn has to be an excellent judge of hose? 39