The Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program was intially broadcast twice each Wednesday night on the East Coast--first at 7.30 p.m. then rebroadcast at 10.30 p.m. (LIFE, October 9th 1939)
Hinds Honey and Almond Cream LIFE ad promoting Burns and Allen from January 29th 1940
Gracie Allen declared her candidacy for President under the Surprise Party banner during Episode No. 22 of The Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program
One of several of the slogans of the Surprise Party, 'Down with Common Sense' was often substituted with 'It's In the Bag'
Candidate Gracie poses with the official Surprise Party Mascot, Laura the Kangaroo
Gracie's Campaign Train for the Surprise Party made at least thirty-three whistlestops between Union Station in Los Angeles and Union Station in Omaha.
Candidate Gracie's Surprise Party Convention Show was held at the Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum
Postcard of Ak-Sar-Ben Coliseum circa 1930
Here's the cover of our own First Edition of Gracie Allen's first book, 'How to Become President' from 1940
Gracie Allen donated the proceeds of the sale of her book to the American Red Cross
Here's a sample illustration from Gracie's book--'REQUIRED SHAPES FOR MEN PRESIDENTS'
Spot ad for Hinds Honey and Almond Lotion with a collectable autograph of Gracie Allen
Elegant British society band leader Ray Noble moved to CBS with Burns and Allen for The Hinds Honey and Almond Program
Tenor Frank Parker returned for song stylings with Burns and Allen
Popular announcer Truman Bradley acted as the spokesperson for Hinds and foil for Burns and Allen. He opened each Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program with 'Hello-tion!'
Most of us--'of a certain age'--more closely identify Truman Bradley with Frederick Ziv's Science Fiction Theatre (1955-1957) over Television. He's seen here with 'Garco' the Robot.
George Burns and Gracie Allen's five seasons over CBS launched a Burns & Allen franchise over Radio, in Film and on Television spanning twenty-six years. Burns & Allen's Radio programs spanned eighteen of those years:
Needless to say, as George Burns and Gracie Allen's fame and popularity continued to rise there were no end of sponsors willing to promote their goods with Burns & Allen as their headliners.
Lehn & Fink sponsor Burns and Allen eighth Radio outing
Lehn & Fink's popular emoluments and hand creams had steadily risen in popularity throughout the first half of the 20th Century. Lehn & Fink also promoted their Lysol, Pebeco Toothpaste and Tussy brands over Radio:
- 1935 Amateur Gentleman [Leslie Howard Theatre]
- 1935 Club Romance
- 1935 The Life of Mary Southern
- 1936 Between the Bookends
- 1939 The Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program
- 1945 Blind Date
CBS brings Burns and Allen back into the fold for Hinds
One of the more unlikely duos to achieve Entertainment World super-stardom, Jewish-born Nat Birnbaum [Stage name George Burns] and Irish Catholic-born Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen grew up worlds apart in myriad ways. Nat from New York and Grace from San Francisco found each other in New Jersey, Birnbaum performing a vaudeville act with then partner Lorraine. Grace reportedly approached Birnbaum after his 'Burns & Lorraine' act about working in vaudeville and 'George Burns' offered her a suggestion that she work with him. That was 1922. The act became a couple, and the couple married shortly after meeting. Continuing to slug it out in vaudeville for another five years, Burns & Allen soon caught the attention of the Film Industry and its search for comedy teams for its growing production of 'talkies' of the era. Burns & Allen were featured in several Vitaphone Shorts of the era, eventually leading them into featured guest appearances over network Radio. As the guest appearances grew more frequent, Burns & Allen's novel 'dumb Dora' act acquired exponentially more fans.
Gracie's 1940 Presidential Campaign for the 'Surprise Party'
During the Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program broadcast of the evening of February 28th 1940, Gracie announced her candidacy for President of the United States running under her newly established 'Surprise Party.' Asked about the name she gave to her new political party she stated that though her Mom was a Democrat and her father a Republican, Gracie had been born a Surprise.
While Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers had previously thrown their own hats into the Presidential Ring over Radio, Gracie's Presidential run would prove to generate even greater and wider interest throughout America. Her two slogans for the run were "Grace the White House with Gracie" and "It's In the Bag."
The gimmick proved so popular that Gracie found herself making the rounds of other popular Radio programs of the era to campaign, among them:
- The Jell-O Program with Jack Benny
- The Johnson Wax Program with Fibber McGee and Molly
- The Texaco Star Theatre with Ken Murray
- Dr. I.Q. The Mental Banker
From the March 1st 1940 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
CURTAIN CALLS: CARRILLO
HAS POLITICAL COMPETITION
Gracie Allen's Proposed
Race for Presidency of
U.S. Leaves Soanes Cold
By WOOD SOANES
While Leo Carrillo is out to garner some free publicity for himself by announcing his candidacy for Governor of the sovereign State of California, Gracie Allen has decided to run for President of these United States.
Miss Allen, with characteristic disregard for formality decided not to wait until after the election to say "Nuts to the voters!" she said it before the poll and managed to obtain 864 signatures to petition for the presidential nomination.
Professional petition circulators established themselves on Hollywood street corners the other day with blank petitions and two bags of nuts. Every time a bona fide voter signed the petition he was given a handful of nuts. In 40 minutes 800 signed. "That," observed Miss Allen when she recived the returns, "is as much support as some of the actual candidates seem to have. So maybe I really should run for President."
I suppose I'm a hopeless old fogy, but somehow this and the other gags that are supposed to be so hilarious during presidential campaigns seem to me in very poor taste. After all, the offices of Governor and President are about the highest within our gift.
There are undoubtedly a number of persons who sincerely believe that Leo Carrillo would be a good Governor and that he possesses the necessary qualifications to serve the State where his forebears lived and died long before it was in the Union.
There may even be some who feel that Miss Allen has sufficient native shrewdness to warrant her removal from nitwit radio programs to the chair occupied by Washington and Lincoln. Somehow I feel that the project is tainted with effrontery.
It wasn't so long ago that this same comedienne was involved in a rather smelly enterprise having to do with the smuggling of gems into this country in an effort to avoid taxes. Surely that wasn't a press agent stunt, too! . . .
It should come as no surprise that Gracie's short-lived campaign left some wonderful malaprops and erstwhile Suprise Party planks in its wake:
- Gracie boasted that America's $43 Billion National Debt of the era was "the biggest in the world."
- On the Neutrality Bill before Congress her position was "If we owe it let's pay it!"
- Gracie was also uncharacteristically supportive of arch Right Wing Representative Martin Dies' ever-expanding witchhunt committee. Of Dies Red-baiting comte. Gracie observed "If we didn't keep going [with it], who'd color our Easter eggs?"
- On the question of recognizing Russia, Gracie opined "I don't know . . . I meet so many people."
- She also stated flatly that she'd "make no fireside chats from the White House between April 15th and October 15th", declaring "Washington is awfully hot in Summer."
- Gracie proposed doing away with campaign buttons in favor of sew-on campaign messages, "the better to discourage supporters from changing their minds" about her candidacy.
- She adopted a female kangaroo by the name of "Laura" as the Surprise Party Mascot, citing the fact that 1940 was a Leap Year.
- Gracie's Surprise Party campaign ditty--composed by Charles Henderson-- was "Vote For Gracie," one refrain of which was "If the country's going Gracie, so can you."
- Gracie announced the location of her Surprise Party Convention to be Omaha, Nebraska from May 15th to May 18th, making it the first National Party convention of the year.
- Gracie received a political endorsement from Harvard University.
- Gracie undertook a whistlestop campaign aboard the private car of W. Averell Harriman, Chairman of the Board of the Union Pacific Railroad. The whistlestop campaign took them from Union Station in Los Angeles to Omaha's Union Station, stopping at numerous byways enroute.
Collaborator Charles Henderson wrote 'Vote for Grace' for Gracie Allen's short-lived Presidential Campaign
From the May 9th 1940 edition of the Spokane Daily Chronicle:
Gracie Allen Swoops Toward Nebraska
in Whirlwind Presidency Campaign
Band, Wise Crackers
HOLLYWOOD, May 9, (UP)--That silver-tongued orator, servant of the people, sterling politician, friend of the poor and especially of the rich, Gracie Allen, headed on a whirlwind trip to Omaha today for her nomination as president of the United States.
Her special train will meander into Nebraska four days hence. Candidate Allen said she couldn't go any faster because she had to make 31 rear platform speeches enroute about something that Garner, Taft, Dewey and the others have forgotten.
"They do not realize," thundered the spearhead of the Surprise party in a soprano voice, "that a full half of the married people in America--I repeat--a full half, are women."
Candidate Allen took with her a full staff of writers of wise cracks, an imitation kangaroo, a 50-piece band, and four press agents, including Miss Pauline Swanson, beautiful blonde.
Beautiful Agent Useful.
"If more candidates had more beautiful press agents," Miss Allen said in an off-the-record-don't-quote-me interview, "there probably wouldn't be anything in the papers about them at all. And what a great relief that would be."
As for the wise-crack authors, Candidate Allen said she understood some of the other presidential candidates hired speech writers, too.
"Only they use Joe Miller's book," she said. "We have fresh jokes."
According to the publicists, who don't much care whom they quote, Postmaster General James A. Farley will make the nomination speech.
Nut for Squirrels.
Once she gets to the White House she's going to make some drastic reforms. She intends to plant nut trees, for the squirrels. She's going to paint the executive mansion sky blue because the people are tired of looking at it white; install a ping-pong table in the east room for exercise, and cover the chairs in the house of representatives in chintz.
She also intends to eliminate Washington's smoke-filled rooms, locked doors, lime lights, and little black books for the following reasons:
1. She doesn't smoke.
2. On account of the fire hazard.
3. Lime light is hard on a President's complexion.
4. She likes books with pictures.
And there was this from the May 15th 1940-05 edition of the Gallup Independent:
Gracie Allen's Presidential Campaign Is Giving
Rise To Some Issues Never Heard Of Before
OMAHA, Neb., May 15 (AP)--Gracie Allen, who will be nominated the "Surprise" party's candidate for president at its convention (don't take it seriously) Friday, disclosed today a platform she says can't be beat.
As a matter of fact it can't even be understood.
The radio and film comedienne and her husband, George Burns, are the feature attraction of Omaha's second annual Golden Spike Days celebration, of which the convention is a high-light.
On Foreign Relations
Opening with her opinion on foreign relations, Miss Allen said in an interview "Well, they're all right with me. Only when they come they've just got to bring their own bedding."
The farm problem is simple--"All you need is aspirin and horse liniment. I'll have every farmers' parity, and shall insist on larger fields so that the poor old asparagus won't have to grow standing up."
As for pension plans, Gracie applies a bit of reverse technique. She confided she wants to give old age to everyone with a pension.
If she gets to the White House, she plans lots of interviews with the press, but she'll stay in the west wing while the reporters stay in the east wing.
"That way they'll never be able to misquote me," she explained. "It's just like telephones. I simply never answer them, that's what they were made for, you know."
Even the White House will be changed. There will be elevators that run horizontally, "around and around," and an ostrich farm out in back so that at the annual Easter egg hunt, "If the little kiddies can't find any of them, then I'll make the ostriches come out and sit on the eggs. I just love children."
The Surprise party's candidate for president waved gaily at several thousand supporters who flocked into the Union station to greet her Tuesday afternoon, accepted a bouquet of flowers, then remarked:
"These must be Republican blossoms--they look a little Dewey."
That indicates the general idea of the fun and nonsense Omahans and visitors to the city are promised during the Golden Spike Days celebration.
In a followup to the coverage of Gracie's Omaha event, the Gallup Independent posted this in its May 16th 1940 edition:
Gracie Allen In 'Fireside Chat'
OMAHA. Neb., May 16 (AP) Gracie Allen, the Surprise parly's candidate for president, indulged in a fireside chat last night, and if all her listeners didn't warm up to her ideaswell, you know Gracie.
Good-humored, portly Irish Dan Butler, mayor of Omaha, fed Gracie her gags in a nationwide (CBS) radio broadcast, witnessed by several thousand Omahans at the Ak-Sar-Ben coliseum as a feature of the Golden Spike Days celebration.
For his reward the mayor got a kiss and a promise that if elected, Gracie would appoint him secretary of the interior "so we can have some X-ray pictures taken together."
She spurned his offer to call him Dan "because you can't say Dan over the radio."
Gracie promised, if elected, to put up a few jars of "federal reserves" and scrub floors to prove she can manage the house of representatives.
Instead of treaties with Europe and Asia, she will substitute "treaties with sugar and cream," and because she likes Mayor Butler so well she will decline any new proposals from Senator Wagner.
About that time the mayor asked for an aspirin, and got the kiss.
Tonight Omaha witnesses a torchlight parade on behalf of Gracie's campaign, and the convention proper will be held Friday night.
The celebration ends Saturday night with grand ball.
Given the current political landscape it would appear that Gracie Allen launched her Presidential campaign about 71 years too early. We're willing to bet that anyone who could perfectly channel Gracie Allen this election cycle would run away with the election. Of course as noted above, America was in debt only $48 Billion in 1940 as compared to the $65 Trillion of America's current long-term indebtedness. Even adjusting for inflation, that would be $625 Billion as compared to $65 Trillion.
Even more ironic, Gracie Allen herself would unquestionably be taken more seriously today than the likes of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, or Herman Cain. Gracie was definitely onto something--simply seven decades ahead of her time. But given today's toxic political climate, George Burns' own legal problems of 1939 and 1940 might well have derailed a Gracie Allen run for the Presidency today. Within weeks of each other during 1939, George Burns and Jack Benny were under a grand jury indictment for trafficking in smuggled jewelry, and Burns was under investigation by the I.R.S. for tax evasion. No doubt the welcome diversion of Gracie's 'Presidential run' helped to distract from George's legal misfortunes of the era.
It would appear that not everyone enjoyed Gracie Allen's brilliant parody of a race for the White House. Here's a countervailing critique from the July 3rd 19 edition of the Oakland Tribune:
CURTAIN CALLS: BAD TASTE
OF GAG DAWNS ON GRACIE
At Its Worst in Phony
Campaign for President
By WOOD SOANES
It took some time for the light to penetrate, but Gracie Allen has finally become aware of the bad taste involved in her gag campaign for president.
Not, to be sure, before she had collected a great deal of free publicity on a Coast-to-Coast tour and managed to write a book on the subject of her candidacy.
At any rate Miss Allen called the gentlemen of the press together the other day and observed:
"I've carried the joke far enough. Fun is fun but the sacred right of franchise under the American Constitution is nothing to be trifled with.
"This is a presidential year and we are on the eve of selecting a President in the gravest period of our history. Every American should consider casting his 1940 presidential vote the greatest privilege of his life.
"Nowhere else in the world would a comedy treatment of a presidential campaign be permitted. No one knows better than I that in Europe such a mock race would have landed me and my husband in serious trouble. Thank God that America still has its democracy--and its sense of humor."
I'm afraid that America's sense of humor isn't quite as elastic as Miss Allen hopes.
There was a good deal of resentment about the gag from the very first. I know that I treated the plan with considerable rancour in these columns and found, to my astonishment, that more people were in agreement than I suspected.
Other writers, too, pointed out the bad form involved, but Paramount or Miss Allen's radio sponsors persisted in pursuing the idea. I don't know who was actually responsible. It may even have been Miss Allen who seems to be taking the blame as she originally took the credit.
This seems quite unlikely, however, since radio and screen actors do pretty much what they are told, and they are uniformly eager to do anything from a handstand at Hollywood and Vine to the tedious business of reading a book if it will guarantee them an extra inch of space in the newspapers.
Yet even if they viewed the rages of the drama commentators as sour grapes, both Miss Allen and her husband, George Burns, should have been able to detect a feeling of resentment in the reception of their idea on the tour which was anything but a successful good will tour.
However, it is all over now, and it is to be hoped that Hollywood and the radio people have learned something from the contretemps.
There are still a great many citizens left in these United States who can't see anything funny in a travesty on the office of President. It is their inalienable right to disagree with the incumbent and his policies, but they separate the man from the position in their mind's eye.
Many of us, too, are irked by the business of professional flagwaving, a trick evolved by George M. Cohan in his salad days as a song-and-dance man to bring audiences to their feet as he finished his turn. The original idea was seized upon and expanded until it grew out of all proportions.
Perhaps the topper of the flagwaving schemes will come tomorrow when Gene Autry, the singing cowboy of the films, takes to the boulevards of Hollywood wearing a suit contrived of American flags.
If that isn't the height of bad taste, then my sense of values is distorted.
Going back to Miss Allen and her observation that nowhere else in the world would a comedy treatment of a presidential campaign be permitted, she is right for once. But I don't attribute it, as she did, to the democracy of the United States as much as to our National tolerance of stupidity.
One of the more caustic and Conservative columnists of the era, Wood Soanes was one of the isolationist 'America First' proponents of the era, vehemently opposed to America's entry into World War II. As must be apparent from his other bylines in this series of articles, Soanes was not a great fan of Progressives or Progressive artists of the era. What remains obvious from all of Soanes' critiques of the era is that he was no fan of Burns and Allen. Nor, apparently, was he possessed of either a sense of irony or sense of humor. If Eleanor Roosevelt herself could appreciate the irony and cleverness of Gracie's run for prez, we find it somewhat silly of Soanes to have savaged Gracie's efforts in the manner presented.