Jack Eigen Fired by WBKB for Lengthy Kiss

According to a February 17th, 1954 article in The Chicago Daily Tribune by Anton Remenih, comedian Jack Eigen was fired by Chicago television station WBKB (Channel 7) after a long kiss with an actress on his Monday, February 15th broadcast [1]. Eigen’s program, The Jack Eigen Show, ran from 11:10PM-11AM local time. Remenih reported that the kiss “brought protests from hundreds of women viewers” despite the fact that WBKB’s switchboard closed at 11PM, before Eigen’s show went on the air [2].

Irate viewers did reach the station’s traffic department and apparently called employees at home. And the following day, the station was “inundated by calls” that denounced Eigen for “vulgarity,” “coarseness” and “bad taste” [3]. To fire Eigen, WBKB’s vice president Sterling Quinlan sent him the following telegram:

Regret to inform you that due to extreme poor taste exhibited in telecast of Monday night in putting on a kissing exhibition that under no circumstances can be considered acceptable television fare in the homes of our viewers, we must terminate your services with the program of Monday, Feb. 15. [4]

Cleo Moore was his guest on the night in question, promoting her new movie Bait. Eigen, curious at how kissing took place in Hollywood, locked lips with Moore for “more than two minutes” and then compared her kiss to those from his wife. Said Eigen, “I have no guilty conscience. I have been happily married for 18 years, and my wife knew what I had planned for the program. If she had thought there was anything unladylike or rude in it, she would have told me” [5].

An article in The Los Angeles Times about the incident quoted Miss Moore as saying she had been “taken a bit aback” when Eigen proposed the kissing test, but that she “tried to be a good sport. I’m sorry that all this came about, because I wouldn’t want anyone to lose his job. It certainly wasn’t meant to be offensive” [6]. Moore would repeat the stunt a year later with WSMB’s Scott Muni in New Orleans during his late-night radio program Scott’s Shangri-La. Only this time the kiss reportedly lasted 11 minutes and one second according to Billboard, beating her kiss with Eigen by five minutes [7].

Eigen and Moore would later repeat the kiss at a Chicago restaurant according to a photograph published in the February 18th issue of The Chicago Daily Tribune [8]. The Jack Eigen Show was replaced by The Guest House, an interview/talk/variety program hosted by Fran Allison and Burr Tillstrom, beginning Monday, February 22nd. It ran from 11:15PM-12AM local time and went off the air in June.

Works Cited:

1 Remenih, Anton. “Fire Jack Eigen for Long Kiss on TV Program.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 17 Feb. 1954: 16.
2 Ibid.
3 Ibid.
4 Ibid.
5 Ibid.
6 “Comedian Jack Eigen Fired Over Long TV Kiss.” Los Angeles Times. 17 Feb. 1954: 5.
7 Bundy, June. “Vox Jox.” Billboard. 30 Apr. 1955: 20. (Read online at Google Books).
8 “Kiss That Cost Job Re-enacted.” Chicago Daily Tribune. 18 Feb. 1954: 3.

7 Comments

  • Barry I. Grauman says:

    Jack Eigen was originally a disc jockey and interviewer (holding court in a restaurant with famous celebrities sharing the mike at his table) in the late ’40s, and Fred Allen was one of his biggest fans (he liked to toss Jack’s name in several of his radio sketches). No one really remembers him today…but then, whoever heard of “Tex & Jinx”?

  • A. P. says:

    Well, My family remembers Jack Eigen today. Jack was my great uncle. I met him a few times when I was a kid. It’s a little piece of interesting history in my family.

  • Hello A.P.
    My father, Anton Hafner Remenih, wrote this artical while working as a reporter for the Chicago Tribune. Dad passed away in 2000 but how interesting to discover his work on the internet.
    Anton Myers Remenih
    Lake Tahoe ca.

  • A.P. says:

    Your dad’s article will be a part of collection of Jack’s life history that my family will treasure for years to come. Thanks for sharing. A.P.

  • Bob Bulmash says:

    Back in 1952, while growing up in Chicago, I remember listening to his show from the Chez Parie while I was in bed. My parents were big fans, and my uncle Irving was even interviewed by Jack when he came in from California. I kinda felt the sleepy-time-blues when Jack went off the air. Somehow, his pratter captured my interest – even as a preteen.

  • Larry G says:

    I went to several of this radio shows in Chicago, making my dad drive to Chicago. My mom heard my dad laugh in the background when a stripper came on to be interviewed.

    Jack interviewed the producer of Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Russ Meyer that evening.

    I listened to Jack on my little transistor radio as a kid. I went through a lot of 9-volt batteries listening to him.

    His theme song was “I’ll see you in my dreams”.

    I recorded some of his shows but I lost the tapes years ago.

    He liked a dish called Chicken in a Pot.

  • I have recently had a tape cassette tape put onto CD format.. On the cassette/CD is a priceless one off recording of my late dad, Major George Willcocks being interviewed and recorded on the Jack Eigan show on NBC? I think.. I believe it was at the Hotel Sherman in New York City . Would have been around December time..Probably long before chat shows were popular here in UK.. Well , I listened to this new CD today , It is still everso scratchy and of poor quality recording by today’s standards, but it is there for posterity and I thought I google Jack Eigan.!
    Never realised that Jack Eigan was someone of note / “a name in the USA ” and I’m quite proud to think that Dad was on his show…Jack did ask some very pointed and quite political questions to which my Dad was very Englishly descreet and diplomatic.. he even tells the American people how to make a decent cup of tea at one point…all very nostalic and rather quaint.. RIP both of these men.
    David Willcocks ,Cheshire, England , uk

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