Don Wilson

Don Wilson

Show Count: 280
Series Count: 5
Role: Old Time Radio Star
Born: September 1, 1900
Old Time Radio, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Died: April 25, 1982, Cathedral City, California, USA
An American announcer and occasional actor in radio and television, with a Falstaffian vocal presence, remembered best as the rotund announcer and comic foil to the star of The Jack Benny Program.


Wilson began his radio career as a singer over Denver radio station KFEL in 1923. By 1929, he was working at KFI in Los Angeles. Though best known for his comedy work with Benny, Wilson had a background as a sportscaster, covering the opening of the 1932 Summer Olympics. Wilson first worked with Benny on the broadcast of April 6, 1934, concurrent with a short stint as announcer onGeorge Gershwin's series, Music by Gershwin. At 6 feet (1.83 m) and over 200 pounds (91 kg), Wilson possessed a resonant voice, a deep belly laugh, and a plump figure, all of which would become important parts of his character with Benny. Though Wilson's primary function as announcer was to read the opening and the commercial pitches — notably for Jell-O, Grape-Nuts, and Lucky Strikes — his importance to the program was as both feed and foil to Jack and other cast members. A recurring goal was his effort to get the Sportsmen Quartet singing commercials approved by Benny.

On radio in particular, Wilson's girth could be exploited, both in jokes by Benny and in audio gags, such as the amount of time it took a railroad porter to brush the soot off of Don following a train trip, or to measure charging him by the pound.

Wilson rarely flubbed his lines. His most famous incident occurred on the January 8, 1950 broadcast. The script called for him to refer to columnist Drew Pearson, but Wilson read the name as "Dreer Pooson." Later on in the broadcast, during a murder-mystery skit, Frank Nelson took advantage of the situation. Benny asked Nelson, "Pardon me, are you the doorman?" and Nelson, in his customary sarcastic manner, came back with: "Well who do you think I am, Dreer Pooson?," to sustained laughter and applause.

Wilson also served stints as announcer for radio comedy or variety shows starring Alan Young, Bing Crosby, Ginny Simms, and Fanny Brice's comedy hit Baby Snooks. In 1946, Don Wilson was a regular on the daytime comedy Glamour Manor, opposite former Jack Benny Program regular Kenny Baker.

Wilson accompanied Benny into television in 1950, remaining with him through the series' end in 1965. On television, the fat jokes were toned down only slightly, mostly because the real Wilson was not as impossibly large as the radio Wilson was described. These appearances also often involved the fictional character of Don's equally hefty, aspiring announcer son, Harlow (played by Dale White). Wilson also co-starred with Benny in Buck Benny Rides Again (1940) and voicing a caricature of himself in The Mouse that Jack Built, a 1959 Warner Brothers spoof of The Jack Benny Program directed by Robert McKimson.

Other film roles included small appearances as announcers or commentators in several films, providing narration for Walt Disney's Academy Award nominated short Ferdinand the Bull, and a credited appearance as Mr. Kettering opposite Marilyn Monroe in Niagara. Wilson did frequent commercials and appeared in the Western Union Candygram commercials as their spokesman from 1969 through 1971. Those who recall the commercial remember him blaring out "Just tell them I want to send a Candygram."

His final on-camera appearance in a series was in two episodes of the 1960s Batman as newscaster Walter Klondike (spoofing Walter Cronkite). Wilson would continue to appear on talk-shows throughout his life whenever a program would salute Jack Benny or talk about old-time radio.

Wilson played football for the University of Colorado in the 20's. For his size he was an excellent sportsman, and was an excellent amateur golfer teaming up with fellow NBC announcer Bud Stevens to win many matches in Southern California. Wilson was married four times. His second wife was Peggy Ann Kent, daughter of 20th Century Fox President Sidney R. Kent. They were married November 19, 1940 and divorced in December, 1942. The same month the divorce was final, Wilson married Polish countess Marusia Radunska. This marriage ended in divorce in 1949. Wilson finally found a lasting partnership with fourth wife, radio actress Lois Corbet (who occasionally appeared as "Mrs. Wilson" on Benny's later radio and TV shows). Together they hosted a local Palm Springs, California television show Town Talk from 1968 until the mid-1970s.

Wilson and his wife lived in Palm Springs after his retirement.

Source: Wikipedia

Alan Young Show, TheAlan Young Show, The
Show Count: 57
Broadcast History: 28 June 1944 to 20 September 1944, 3 October 1944 to 28 June 1946, 20 September 1946 to 30 May 1947, and 11 January 1949 to 5 July 1949
Cast: Alan Young, Jean Gillespie, Doris Singleton, Ed Begley, Louise Erickson, Jim Backus, Nicodemus Stewart, Hal March, Ken Christy
Director: Helen Mack
Producer: Helen Mack
The series began on NBC Radio as a summer replacement situation comedy in 1944, featuring vocalist Bea Wain. It then moved to ABC Radio with Jean Gillespie portraying Young's girlfriend Betty. The program was next broadcast by NBC for a 1946-47 run and was off in 1948. When it returned to NBC in 1949, Louise Erickson played Betty and Jim Backus was heard as snobbish playboy Hubert Updike III.
Baby Snooks ShowBaby Snooks Show
Show Count: 160
Broadcast History: 29 February 1936 to 6 June 1936, 23 December 1937 to 25 July 1940, 5 September 1940 to 15 June 1944, 17 September 1944 to 28 May 1948, and 8 November 1949 to 22 May 1951
Cast: Lois Corbett, Fanny Brice, Hanley Stafford, Lalive Brownell, Arlene Harris, Leone Ledoux, Alan Reed, Danny Thomas, Charlie Cantor, Ken Christy, Irene Tedrow, Frank Nelson, Ben Alexander, Lillian Randolph, Elvia Allman, Earl Lee, Sara Berner, Anne Whitfield
Director: Mann Holiner, Al Kaye, Ted Bliss, Walter Bunker, Arthur Stander
Producer: Mann Holiner, Al Kaye, Ted Bliss, Walter Bunker, Arthur Stander
Bing CrosbyBing Crosby
Show Count: 36
Broadcast History: 2 September 1931 to 27 February 1932, 8 March 1932 to 20 July 1932, 4 January 1933 to 15 April 1933, 16 October 1933 to 11 June 1935, 2 January 1936 to 9 May 1946, 16 October 1946 to 1 June 1949, 21 September 1949 to 25 June 1952, 9 October 1952 to 30 May 1954 and 22 November 1954 to 28 December 1956
Cast: Bing Crosby, Bob Burns, Mary Martin, Victor Borge, Connie Boswell, Jerry Lester, George Murphy, Peggy Lee, Judd McMichael, Ted McMichael, Joe McMichael, Mary Lou Cook, Ken Carpenter, John Scott Trotter, Skitch Henderson, Lina Romay , Charlie Parlato, Mack McLean, Loulie Jean Norman, Gloria Wood
Director: Bill Morrow, Murdo MacKenzie, Cal Kuhl, Ezra MacIntosh, Bob Brewster, Ed Gardner
Producer: Bill Morrow, Murdo MacKenzie, Cal Kuhl, Ezra MacIntosh, Bob Brewster, Ed Gardner
Light-Up TimeLight-Up Time
Show Count: 75
Broadcast History:
Sponsor: Lucky Strike
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Dorothy Kirsten
Host: Frank Sinatra
Broadcast: 1945
Added: Aug 16 2014
Broadcast: December 2, 1953
Added: Dec 02 2014
Broadcast: December 25, 1949
Added: Dec 25 2020
Broadcast: February 10, 1954
Added: Apr 15 2014
Broadcast: May 5, 1946
Added: May 01 2016
Broadcast: December 18, 1953
Added: Dec 17 2015
Broadcast: December 15, 1953
Added: Dec 14 2015
Broadcast: February 9, 1954
Added: Apr 08 2014
Broadcast: 13th July 1953
Added: Jul 20 2013
Broadcast: December 28, 1953
Added: Dec 27 2014
Broadcast: 25th August 1942
Added: Aug 28 2011
Broadcast: January 26, 1954
Added: Jun 12 2014
Broadcast: August 11, 1942
Added: Oct 12 2014