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  • Radio is a bag of mediocrity where little men with carbon minds wallow in sluice of their own making.

    Fred Allen Every Sunday NightVariety magazine reported that Fred Allen's move to CBS and The Texaco Star Theatre was so that he could enjoy both more money and greater creative freedom than he had been allowed at NBC. Fred, of course, comically tells a different story.

    In 1940 the Texas oil company was facing a financial crisis. People were home glued to their radio sets and not out driving and buying gasoline. "We've got to put a man on the radio who will drive people out of their homes and into their cars." Allen of course claimed he was just the man for the job.

    Fred AllenAllen started the fall 1940 season in direct competition with his NBC replacement, holding the same Wednesday time slot.  In March of 1942 The Texaco Star Theatre with Fred Allen moved to Sunday nights, where Fred would remainder of his radio career. The new format forced Allen to abandon his amateurs and use "Name" guest stars. Allen lost any opportunity to spontaneous interact on the radio with "Ordinary" people.

    The show was reduced to a half hour in the fall of 1942. Allen claimed this was due to the high cost of talent, but in fact the change was driven by the sponsor; due to war time rationing Texaco had little to sell except goodwill, which it felt it could do in a half hour.

    In the fall of 1945 Fred Allen returned to NBC, joining Jack Benny and the Edgar Bergen/Charlie McCarthy in the Sunday night line-up. The famous Benny/Allen mock feud was continued to great effect, climaxing on the May 26 episode of Fred's show with the "King for a Day" sketch.

    Fred Allen HeadlineThis powerful line-up would be broken up when Benny defected during the CBS Talent raids, but the real death blow came from an upstart third network in the form of a quiz show, Stop The Music with Bert Parks, as well as competition from television.  Although Allen fought back as best he could, burlesquing Stop The Music and Parks' other ABC game show,  Break The Bank, he fell to number 38 in the ratings. Allen left radio for a year after the end of the 1949 season, however this was as much due to health concerns as slipping ratings.

    Allen would no longer host his own radio program, but he was a regular guest on Tallulah Bankhead's The Big Show, appearing in 27 of the 57 installments.

     

     

     

    Continue to "Jack Benny Fred Allen Feud" >>