Jack Pearl, born Jack Perlman (October 29, 1894 – December 25, 1982), was a vaudeville performer and a star of early radio.
Vaudeville and early films
Born in New York, Pearl made an easy transition from vaudeville to broadcasting when he introduced his character Baron Munchausen on The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air in 1932. His creation was loosely based on the Baron Munchausen literary character. As the Baron, Pearl would tell far-fetched stories with a comic German accent. When the straight man (originally Ben Bard, but later Cliff Hall) expressed skepticism, the Baron replied with his familiar tagline and punchline: "Vass you dere, Sharlie?" This catch phrase soon became part of the national lexicon.
Typical of the dialogue:
- Hall: You seem to be effervescent tonight.
- Munchausen: Haff you effer seen me ven I effer vasn't?
Pearl played this character and others in musical revues of the 1920s and 1930s: The Dancing Girl (1923), Topics of 1923 (1923–1924), A Night in Paris (1926), Artists and Models (1927–1928), Pleasure Bound (1929), International Review (1930), Ziegfeld Follies of 1931, Pardon My English (1923) and All for All (1943).
The success of his first radio series brought him to the attention of MGM. He starred as his character in one feature film, Meet the Baron (1933) with Jimmy Durante, Edna May Oliver, ZaSu Pitts and the Three Stooges. He also appears in Ben Bard and Jack Pearl (1926), a film of their vaudevile act made in the DeForest Phonofilm sound-on-film process, and Hollywood Party (1934).
With the cancellation of his second radio series, Pearl found himself struggling for work. He continued in radio with shows like, Jack and Cliff (1948) and The Baron and the Bee (1952), a quiz show, but he never recaptured his mid-1930s fame.
In 1934, a juvenile novel, Jack Pearl as Detective Baron Munchausen, was based on his radio scripts. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his radio work. Pearl died in New York in 1982.
- "The Jack Pearl Show". OTRRpedia. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- Frank Rose, The Agency: William Morris and the Hidden History of Show Business, 1995, New York: Harper, p. 261.