Sixty years later…the dialogue is eerie

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The Feb. 5, 1944, episode of "Pabst Blue Ribbon Town," a radio show sponsored by the former Pabst Brewing Co., was broadcast live from the Milwaukee Auditorium.

The episode, which aired for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and was broadcast locally on WISN-AM, was devoted to Pabst’s 100th anniversary, according to research by Wayne Boenig, contributor to, an Internet site devoted to the careers of the Marx Brothers.

The 30-minute show featured Marx and a cast of guests, including Gene Tierney, Fay McKenzie, Leo Gorcey, Ken Niles, Robert Armbruster and his Blue Ribbon Blenders.

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In a recording of the broadcast given to Small Business Times by Boenig, a loud and raucous Milwaukee crowd welcomes Groucho’s introduction at the beginning of the show.

The dialogue is classic Groucho schtick.

Co-star Fay McKenzie says to the host, "Oh Groucho, look, there’s Lake Michigan! My, it’s choppy today. See all the whitecapsω"

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In his trademark sarcastic tone, Groucho replies, "Yes, isn’t it wonderfulω You get near the place where they make Pabst beer, and even the lake has a head on it."

The crowd erupts in laughter and applause.

Announcer Durward Kirby then interrupts the skit to promote Pabst and its 100-year anniversary, in a pitch that seems eerily ironic today, given the brewer’s demise a half-century later.

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"We don’t want to get too serious at our 100th anniversary celebration here at Milwaukee. It’ll be a long, long time before our next 100-year party. But there’s one thing we do think we ought to say. For a full century, our company has grown and prospered because we’ve always brewed and sold quality beers. Beers that were honestly made. Beers that were honestly sold. Premium beers that have made fast and loyal friends all over the world," Kirby tells the audience. "Today you enjoy beer that all our 100 years of brewing skills can produce. Pabst Blue Ribbon, a delicious blend 33 fine brews with a smooth, satisfying flavor that only full-flavor blending can achieve. And now, as we enter our second hundred years, we want to reaffirm our pledge and our promise, that whenever you buy Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, wherever you buy it, it will continue to be the finest beer we know how to make. Rich and smooth and mellow. A master blend of fine ingredients and a century of skill. A beer to order with confidence and served with pride. That is Pabst Blue Ribbon."

Click here to listen to broadcast: MP3 (6.3 MB)

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