At one time it was the most famous automobile in America. Everybody - and I mean everybody - knew of this car. It lived in fame from a radio show that was one of the most popular shows ever put on the air. I’m sure there are a few out there who remember both the show and the car. But if not, let me tell you about it.
Jack had a gimmick, a shtick. He was cheap! A miser! Jack would hold on to a nickel until it grew mold. Now in reality, Jack was a very generous and loving man. But his radio persona was that of a notorious cheapskate. One time on a television program, he was confronted by a mugger who demanded his money or his life. There was a long pause as Jack had to think about it.
Well, Jack also had a car - a Maxwell, which even then was over 40 years old. And he refused to sell it or get a new car. Of course, it was always breaking down and sounded like it was constantly on its last mile, but Jack hung on to that Maxwell. On the radio you could hear the car sputter and cough and struggle to make even simple trips to the store.
And as you might guess, with an audience numbering in the millions, that old Maxwell became famous. Jokes were made every day on the streets of America whenever a clunker of a car came along. “It sounds like Benny’s Maxwell,” people would say. Yes, Jack Benny’s Maxwell was a clunker and also the best-known automobile in America. So when World War II came along, and folks were asked to give up things for the war effort, it was decided that Benny’s famous Maxwell had to go. That was like asking Groucho Marx to give up his moustache!
But it was decided that the Maxwell should be sent to the recycling yard. They played it up big time on the radio program. Jack even did a piece where he said he had a dream that his Maxwell became a B-29. So off it went to the scrap pile. And of course everyone knew it.
But a hitch developed. After that little publicity event, whenever pilots started having mechanical problems with their bombers, they said that it must have been made from Benny’s old Maxwell and that’s what was wrong with the airplane. It got to the point in one squadron that several pilots were actually refusing to take certain airplanes into the air. Such things were happening in more than a few places around the Army Air Corps. It was getting out of hand.
When word of this reached Hollywood, the producers knew that something had to be done. The truth had to be told. You see, It’s a Little Known Fact that the most famous car in America, Jack Benny’s Maxwell, never existed at all. That’s right! It was all a figment of radio imagination created by the voice of Mel Blanc, who was more famous for the voices of Bugs Bunny and Porky Pig. He made all those car noises. It was not an automobile at all. When the show producers finally admitted the car never existed, the stories of airplanes being made from the Maxwell ceased. But, that’s when the gremlins started, of course!