"Yyyyyeee-esssss?"

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If you don't know who Frank Nelson was, you should. If you're a fan of classic radio and TV you've seen and heard him a thousand times or more. If you're older than me, you know him from the Jack Benny Show. People my age will remember his cameos on Sanford and Son, and those younger still may have seen a recurring Simpsons character modeled after his schtick. Frank Nelson's character popped up anytime the situation required sarcastic customer service with a veneer of sycophantic unctuousness. Watch the clips and then read another one of Mark Evanier's great Hollywood stories, reminiscences of working with Frank Nelson.

More videos below (or after the jump, if you're on the home page).

What got me thinking about Frank Nelson, and his years with Jack Benny in particular, was listening to an episode of "Hancock's Half Hour," a 1950s British radio sitcom that, like Jack Benny's show, featured an ensemble cast, made the title character the straight man, the butt of everyone else's jokes, and had a character that, like Frank Nelson's "yyyyyeee-esss" man, seemed to show up every episode, wherever it was set, to the annoyance of the star. In the case of "Hancock's Half Hour," the character actor was Kenneth Williams and his catchphase was, "'Ere, stop messin' about."

(Edited 2014/01/13 to update Mark Evanier link.)


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That was random, unexpected, and thoroughly enjoyable. Thanks for the fun break from politics and reality! I've not seen or thought about Nelson for years.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 12, 2010 11:47 AM.

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