Vaudevillians found a natural home on Radio: Jim and Marian Jordan (Fibber McGee and Molly), Jack Benny, Bob Hope, Fred Allen, and Ed Wynn, just to name a few. Even this list of big Radio names can't begin to compare with the showbiz success.
Ed Wynn had become an "Over-Night" Radio star on The Fire-Chief in 1932, however his personal life and popularity began to implode by 1935. To replace their failing star and preserve their Tuesday evening slot, the Oil Company adopted a serialization of a Broadway extravaganza, Jumbo. The show was performed at the Hippodrome in New York City, and featured the elephant nightly placing his foot on Jimmy Durante's head (Jimmy Durante and Eddie were long time friends, having met in 1910, while Durante was a honky-tonk piano player and Eddie a singing waiter). Two weeks before the curtain went up, the serialized version came to the radio as The Jumbo Fire-Chief Program. The Broadway production of Jumbo folded after just 233 performances. On the radio the program became The Fire-Chief Concert with the same cast and orchestra (less Durante and the elephant). The radio show was dedicated weekly to a different location, with Texaco's home state of Texas saved for last. The Fire Chief Concert would eventually transform into The Texaco Star Theatre, musical variety shows with different hosts, eventually becoming vehicle for Fred Allen, and laterMilton Berle on television.
In the mean time the Jumbo cast was coming to the end of its usefulness was able to fill the bill. The show got a new orchestra, but kept Jimmy Wallington, who was the announcer since the Chase-Sanborn days. Another regular that came to the new show from the old was the garbled Greek of Harry Einstein's "Parkyakarkus" ('Park your Carcus,' or "Sit Down!")
Additions to the new show's company were child stars Bobby Breen and Deanna Durbin. Breen was born Nov 4, 1927, making him almost nine ; his voice and professionalism were far beyond his years, however.He played the part of Eddie's son, and in the tradition of Junior sidekicks, usually got the best of Eddie before launching into his song. Deanna Durbin came to the attention of Universal Studio's exec Rufus LeMaire. He felt that radio exposure would help Deanna's first movie Three Smart Girls. Eddie was impressed with her singing, but only agreed to put her on the premier of Texaco Town after LeMaire offered to pay her fees. She became a regular after listeners sent in more than 4,000 letters asking to hear the young girl with the operatic voice sing again. Her young age, the demands of her movie career, and the need to travel coast to coast for the broadcasts were an incredible burden on the young talent, but she remained good friends with Eddie and his family, and has had a long and successful movie and singing career. Durbin has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1722 Vine St, but does her best to avoid the spotlight these days.
Texaco Town is filled with the zaniness that the Variety Shows of former Vaudeville players are known for. Eddie adopted the plastic fireman's helmet used by Ed Wynn. The Texaco association would run until March 23, 1938. Eddie then moved on to Camel Cigarettes. In the fall Texaco Star Theater would have Adolph Menjou and John Barrymore as stars.