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Take it From Me aired from November 1953 until January 1954 on ABC.

Stand-up Comedienne Jean Carroll stared as an "average" New York City housewife, complete with bumbling husband ( Alan Carney) and moppet daughter ( Lynn Loring), in this comedy. She opened each show with a monologue, then spiced the night's sketch with comic asides to the audience. Many of the stories involved her sly schemes to trick husband Herbie into doing whatever she wanted. The action took place in the couple's apartment and the surrounding neighborhood, which, though never identified, was presumably in Brooklyn or the Bronx. This New York orientation may have limited the show's appeal west of the Hudson River, and it lasted less than three months.

Also known as The Jean Carroll Show.

An Article from The New York Times

November 5, 2006
Milton Berle, With Charm and a Mink


WEARING a glittery cocktail dress and a mink coat, with her hand propped on her hip, the comedian Jean Carroll would take the stage of The Ed Sullivan Show and regale viewers with stories about her miserable idiot husband, her rotten kid and the women she met at Florida hotels who would sit around the pool telling lies.

Arguably America's first female stand-up star, the monologist with take-charge charm and bubbly delivery began doing solo comedy in the 1930s. She wrote most of her own material, and by 1949 she had become the first comedian to play the Copacabana, Paramount Theater and Capitol Theater in New York all within six months. One critic called her woman's answer to man's superiority. In 1953 she was starring in her own ABC comedy series, Take It From Me.

She retired 37 years ago, and many of her fans might have assumed she was gone by now. But at 95 she is a remarkably vibrant, Scrabble-playing grandmother who lives by herself in a Westchester County condominium and goes by her legal name, Celine Howe. She still does her own cooking, her own dusting and her own eye makeup.

Now a feature-length documentary, Jean Carroll: I Made It Standing Up, to be narrated by Lily Tomlin, is in the works for the 2007 film festival circuit.

On Monday fellow comedians will pay tribute to Ms. Carroll at a New York Friars Club toast in her honor. Set to appear are, among others, Ms. Tomlin and the event's host, Joy Behar. The proceedings will be filmed for the documentary.

Ms. Carroll, 5 feet 1 inch tall, has short silver hair and a hearty laugh that punctuates most of her conversation. Dressed in a striped sweater and taupe pants and seated at her round dinette table, she described one of the bridge games that typically take place there. One woman is 93 and is totally deaf. So she can't hear. I can't see. Another player is always quietly stoned. She falls asleep while we're waiting for her to bid: Hey! Wake up! It's your turn! We have a hilarious time.

During television's Golden Age, when female comedians like Lucille Ball, Imogene Coca and Martha Raye were doing sitcoms or sketches, Ms. Carroll strode onstage and, as herself, told funny stories and jokes. She painted word-pictures in a breezy, friendly style about her family or everyday folks going about their business.

Other women doing comedy were scatterbrained, fat or homely, said Ms. Tomlin, citing Ms. Carroll as a major comedic inspiration. Jean was very attractive. She was in control but not aggressive. She was her own person, and she was funny. Standing up and talking about their family was something you'd see only men doing. You never saw a woman comedian with that kind of command, but she was good-natured and light-hearted.

She was heralded as the female Milton Berle, a female Bob Hope and a distaff Joey Faye. In the 1950s Ed Sullivan signed her to an exclusive contract that paid $10,000 a show, almost inconceivable in those days.

Jean was ahead of her time, recalled the comedian Jack Carter, who was a close friend of Ms. Carroll in the 50s. She was the forerunner of woman stand-ups, very smart and sophisticated. You didn't see the joke coming.

Her most famous routines involved purchasing a mink coat wholesale and spending a day at the racetrack, and her husband jokes struck a special chord with women: The other night my husband came home it was novelty night. ...He's a wonderful man, a regular do-it-yourselfer. I say, Honey, help me. He says, Do it yourself! ... The thing that attracted me to my husband was his pride. I'll never forget the first time I saw him, standing up on a hill, his hair blowing in the breeze and he too proud to run and get it. One of her funniest riffs concerned a high-pressure saleswoman: It's stunning! It's gorgeous! That dress is you!

At the time Ms. Carroll was often accused of competing with male comics. It never occurred to me that only men were supposed to talk, she now said dryly, paging through a thick scrapbook of clippings. Some dated from the time she was still a vaudeville singer-dancer.

She pointed to a cheesecake shot taken when she was 29. That's my old nose. It wasn't too bad. I started doing comedy by saying what I was thinking. I'd tell the band, Wait! Wait! I've got something to tell the people. And I'd walk down to the footlights: You know what happened? I went into this restaurant, or whatever.

In the middle of the interview Ms. Carroll disappeared into her den and brought out another big album. She was looking for a Variety obituary of her husband, Buddy Howe, who died in 1981. In vaudeville the two worked as a comedy team. He was Ms. Carroll's straight man. When he was drafted into the Army, she carried on as a solo act. Upon his discharge, he refused to return to the act, insisting he'd only be holding her back.

He became a talent agent instead and rose to the title of vice chairman of International Creative Management. The pair had a somewhat rocky 45-year marriage, Ms. Carroll said. He was my soul mate, she admits, but he was a control freak. I couldn't stand his constantly criticizing me. Her relationship with Ed Sullivan had its rough spots too. During the term of her exclusive contract, she found him possessive. And she recalled, Just before I'd go on, he'd whisper in my ear to cut four minutes.

Born Celine Zeigman in Paris, she arrived in America at the age of 18 months after her father, a Russian political prisoner who had been jailed in Paris, found a bakery job in the Bronx. Ms. Carroll was 8 when she saw her father, an abusive alcoholic, hurl burning-hot food at her mother. She was up against the wall like a trapped animal. I thought: She's not fighting back because she has no place to go. He pays the bills. I have to grow up in a hurry and work, so I can take care of my mother. I decided that I'd never be beholden to a man.

At 11 she entered an amateur contest, then joined the vaudeville circuit. By the next year, a professional singer-dancer, she was supporting her family of seven. Eventually moving into comedy as a solo performer, she met Mr. Howe, a dancer, and the two teamed up onstage.

After 12 weeks of her own TV series, she recalled, she had an announcement for the network. I didn't want to do the show anymore, she said, because she felt that the actor playing her husband was badly miscast. I was making much more money, anyway, just doing my stage act. But all I really wanted was to stay home and be a wife and mother.

Mr. Carter remembered it simply: I don't think Jean was very happy with her success. Offstage she was kind of serious. She was always searching, it seemed.

Now, in her tenth decade, she said: I don't feel differently inside, like there's an old woman living in there. Who determines when you should stop enjoying life, that you should stop enjoying a raunchy joke or mixed company?

O.K., I look like they just dug me up for the poker game, which I think they will do when I'm gone: What do you mean you can't play tonight? Get up out of there, they'll say. And you know what? She burst out laughing. I'll get up!

Here is Jean Carroll's Obituary from The New York Times

Jean Carroll, 98, Is Dead; Blended Wit and Beauty

Published: January 2, 2010

Jean Carroll, a comedian of the 1940s and 50s whose ready wit, impeccable timing and unorthodox blend of glamour and humor made her one of the first female stars of mainstream stand-up comedy, died at a hospital in White Plains on Jan. 1. She was 98 and lived in Hartsdale, N.Y.

The death was confirmed by her daughter, Helen Tunick.

Though no longer a household name, Ms. Carroll was at midcentury a regular headliner in the country's best-known theaters and nightclubs. She appeared often on The Ed Sullivan Show and had her own short-lived sitcom, The Jean Carroll Show, also called Take It From Me, broadcast on ABC in the 1953-54 season.

A monologist who wrote nearly all her own material, Ms. Carroll found her humor in the stuff of everyday experience: clothing, shopping, social life and family.

The thing that attracted me to my husband was his pride, one of her best-known bits went. I'll never forget the first time I saw him, standing up on a hill, his hair blowing in the breeze and he too proud to run and get it.

Ms. Carroll, who began her career as a vaudeville dancer in the 1920s, is widely credited with having blazed the trail for legions of female stand-up comics who came after her, including Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Lily Tomlin.

In Ms. Carroll's day, the world of stand-up comedy was thought to be no fit place for a woman. There were female entertainers before her, of course, but few specialized in the solo nightclub acts for which Ms. Carroll became famous. Minnie Pearl, for instance, inhabited a carefully cultivated stage persona. (Ms. Carroll, by contrast, was unabashedly herself.) Fanny Brice appeared mostly in burlesque houses and on radio. Sophie Tucker, though she spiced her acts with risque humor, was best known as a singer.

Perhaps only Moms Mabley, who began performing solo comedy routines in the 1910s, can be considered Ms. Carroll's true predecessor. But because of her race, Ms. Mabley was confined for much of her career to the network of black vaudeville houses familiarly known as the chitlin circuit, playing to wider audiences only late in life.

Genteel by today's standards, Ms. Carroll's humor was radical in its day radical, that is, in the hands of a lone woman with a microphone in front of her and an audience at her command. For a female comic to wield that sort of power was unheard of then, especially in the smoke-filled universe of nightclubs.

When Ms. Carroll came to prominence, no woman was expected to sustain a comedy act by herself; traditionally (think of George Burns and Gracie Allen), a woman had a straight man beside her as a counterweight. Nor was she supposed to be hugely attractive: The combination of feminine wit and beauty seemed too potent a cocktail to foist on the American public. Many 20th-century female comics, like Ms. Diller, Lucille Ball and Totie Fields, cultivated public personas that were variously frazzled, madcap or disarmingly dowdy. What was more, they often used their looks as the butt of self-deprecating jokes.

Ms. Carroll did none of these things. Extremely attractive, she appeared alone onstage in a shimmering evening dress, dripping diamonds and mink. That in itself was subversive, as were her monologues about being driven crazy by spouse and children, a time-honored staple of male comics. As appropriated by Ms. Carroll, however, the subject discombobulated some audience members.

I used to do that routine about my daughter being a hippie with the dirty sneakers and dirty blue jeans, but why a beard? Ms. Carroll said in an interview in Funny Women: American Comediennes, 1860-1985 (McFarland, 1987), by Mary Unterbrink. And you know, people would actually come to me and say, Does your daughter really have a beard? I'd say, No, I made her shave it, but I let her keep the mustache.

Ms. Carroll was born Celine Zeigman in Paris on Jan. 7, 1911, and came to the United States with her family at 18 months. Reared in the Bronx, she began her career in her early teens after a talent agent spotted her dancing in an amateur show. Soon after, she joined the vaudeville circuit as part of a two-boy, two-girl dance act. A natural verbal clown, she later joined the act of the comedian Marty May.

In the early 1930s, Ms. Carroll met Buddy Howe, an acrobatic dancer. Joining forces as Carroll and Howe, they toured the country with a dance act punctuated by humorous patter written by Ms. Carroll. The couple married in 1936 and spent the next three years touring Britain. After the United States entered World War II and Mr. Howe was drafted, Ms. Carroll continued as a solo comic, to wide acclaim. On his discharge from the Army, Mr. Howe was prudent enough to realize that the act was better without him and became a talent agent instead.

Mr. Howe, who became chairman of the Creative Management Agency, died in 1981. Ms. Carroll, who was known in private life as Celine Howe, is survived by Ms. Tunick of Carmel, N.Y., and two granddaughters, Susan Hamilton of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., and Andrea Ramos of Carmel.

Ms. Carroll's comic gifts were perhaps nowhere more evident than they were one night in May 1948 at the old Madison Square Garden, when she performed at a benefit for the United Jewish Appeal. Israel had been declared a state that month, and after hearing impassioned speeches and the playing of Hatikvah, most of the audience was in tears. Then came Ms. Carroll's turn.

It was a delicate spot for a comic to be in, as Mr. Howe recounted in interviews afterward. Unfazed, Ms. Carroll leaned into the microphone. I've always been proud of the Jews, but never so proud as tonight, she said. Because tonight I wish I had my old nose back.

For an episode guide go to

For a Biography of Jean Carroll go to

For a page dedicated to Jean Carroll go to

To watch clips of Jean Carroll go to and

To listen to Jean Carroll go to
Date: Sat June 21, 2008 � Filesize: 33.3kb � Dimensions: 380 x 255 �
Keywords: Jean Carroll, 1953


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