Jack Benny in Etiwanda

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Jack Benny’s radio show made Cucamonga famous as part of the train station announcer’s cry, “Train leaving on Track 5 for Anaheim, Azusa and Cuuuucamonga!” Supposedly — according to an article on an Anaheim history website – this line was first heard on his Jan. 7, 1945 broadcast and it became a running gag, continuing when Benny transitioned to TV.

The three tiny communities loved the attention. Benny was made honorary mayor of all three a year later. He visited Anaheim at least twice, in 1947 and again in 1963. He was made an honorary citizen of the three communities in 1965, in a ceremony held in Azusa.

But did he ever visit Cucamonga? I can’t answer that. But it seems he did visit Etiwanda.

The accompanying photo was taken in either 1966 or 1967 at the Regina Winery. Gino Filippi, who sent it to me, said it was given to him by Mr. C. Boesen of Alta Loma. “The white-haired man opposite Mr. Benny is Tip Browne, GM of the Regina Grape Products Company. I think the event was a promotional event for the grand opening of the Regina Winery Restaurant, ‘California’s first winery restaurant.’ ”

Anaheim, Azusa and Etttttiwanda!

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  • Jerry Title

    Morning, Dave. Speaking of Jack Benny and his ties to the IE, he and his wife, Mary Livingston, would stop occasionally at Ford Lunch while enroute to Palm Springs. My mom took my sister and me to Ford Lunch for dinner quite often, and one time we found ourselves behind the Bennys at the cash register.

    Jack was famous for smoking cigars, the 50-cent variety, which were quite an extravagance then. Well, Mrs. Ford was at the register, and Jack asked her for a cigar, but from a fresh, unopened box, not from the box on display. She refused to open a new box of cigars when one was already open in the case. Quite a discussion followed. Benny left without his cigar.

    I often wondered if he ever ate at Ford Lunch again.

    ["Oh, Don! Oh, Mary! To heck with Ford Lunch!" Thanks for the eyewitness account, Jerry. -- DA]

  • http://www.myspace.com/the_ron Ronald Scott

    I remember that same line being done on Looney Tunes cartoons as well.

    [Well, Mel Blanc did the Benny train announcements. -- DA]

  • Gino Filippi

    Dear Sir David,

    Thanks for sharing the pic with your readers. Since I am so much younger than you my most recent memory of Jack Benny was from the Warner Bros. color cartoons where he was characterized as a violin-playing mouse. One of my favorites! Ar ar ar.

    GF

  • mvarney

    What a wonderful picture. Thanks to Gino for sharing it! It’s always fun to read your blog.

  • Derek Christensen

    Hmmm…. Wonder if you or anyone else out there can verify?

    When I was little (early 1960s) my parents (both worked as local H.S. teachers) and I would eat dinner out often.

    Occasionally, we would dine at “Regina Restaurant,” but it was located on the N.W. corner of Etiwanda Avenue and Foothill Blvd.

    I think THAT restaurant burned down in the mid-’60s and was subsequently replaced by the restaurant located AT the east end of the Regina Winery property located on Baseline road.

    Does anyone remember a restaurant at Foothill and Etiwanda avenue, and was it the “Regina Restaurant”?

    [Can't say that I remember it, but people have told me about Regina's, and at that Foothill and Etiwanda location. -- DA]

  • Kent Crowley

    Actually (and I wish I had my notes here), when the campaign for the Jack Benny statue began, we found that Jack Benny visited Cucamonga on a couple of occasions.

    The first was to visit the Red Hill Country Club in the hopes that he could put together an Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga golf tournament. Benny met with the leaders of the Cucamonga Area Chamber of Commerce (now the RC Chamber) at the club who were in support of the effort. While the effort died because they found it would cost too much to bring the course up to the required tournament standard, a photo from that event sealed the deal for the Jack Benny statue.

    In addition, Benny returned to the area to play benefits for flood victims for the 1968-69 El Nino flooding. I believe one event was in Ontario and the other at Alta Loma High School.

    If you can find former mayor and district attorney Dennis Stout, I’m sure he can confirm these events.

    Also, the Benny writer who came up with the original line was Fred Baltzer, who used to pass through Cucamonga on his way to Palm Springs in the ’40s. Nice guy — he was there at the unveiling of the statue.

    Also, in 1989 when I interviewed Lita Grey Chaplin, great-great-granddaughter of Dona Merced and Jose Carillo of the Rains House, she told me that she remembered an old vaudeville gag from her childhood where comedians would rescue failed gags by staring balefully into the audience and intoning “well…it KILLED ‘em in Cucamonga.” She said it particularly impressed her because she knew early on of her connection to the Rains House and the Lugo family.

    If you have any old Rancho Cucamonga Times in the files, I’m pretty sure I mentioned it in the article I wrote in (May?) 1989. It’s worth looking up just for the killer photo that Nancy (I can’t remember her last name) took. Just for the heck of it — Lita’s shotgun marriage to Charlie Chaplin and her overprotective mother and Charlie provided the key characters for Nabokov’s “Lolita”…in fact, her real name was Lillita.

  • Art Shifrin

    Hi,

    Through my Dad & a friend of his I knew & spent much time with Raymond Scott. One of the few (my fault–dumb decision) of his perhaps thousands of disks that I transferred was a 16″ 33.33 lacquer (cut by Empire Studios…NYC). It has a fabulous 1/4 hour of what’s either a Benny show from his NBC series OR of a Lucky Strike Xmas special. Frank Morgan visits…Babe does Mary’s part due a a cold…running gag about Rochester’s potent eggnog…Dennis Day says he’s going to have a great Pesach…references are made to those who drank the eggnog the last Xmas would up play in the Rosebowl…at the end of the segment Jack calls the sponsor in NY…gets several wrong numbers first i,e, Lady Esther’s Tea Room.

    Does anyone recognize this & can cite the date?

    Please post your reply AND email me directly at ArtShifrin@Shifrin.net

  • Ian Browne

    Just a quick note. Brown should be spelled with an e. “Tip” Browne was my grandfather. I remeber going to the winery with him back in the late 1970′s.

    [I'll fix that, Ian. Thank you. -- DA]

  • Karen Loparco

    Thank you so much for the photo and information. My folks took me to the Regina many times in my young life. I am currently writing down some memories for my sons — I guess it’s technically a memoir, but that sounds much too grandiose– and I have been looking online for anything about the Regina and up until right now had not found anything. I have been calling it The Regina Inn, which is what I remembered it being… A switch to “restaurant” and up came your post. YAY!!! I was beginning to think that perhaps I had imagined the entire place!!!

    If anyone out there reading this has any exterior photos of the place I would love it if you would share them with me. I wrote to the Etiwanda Historical Society and never received a response.

    [Karen, glad to have been of service. -- DA]