Johnny Wayne (1918-1990) was born John Louis Weingarten in Toronto to Sarah and Charles Byron Weingarten. He was married to Beatrice Lokash and they had three children: Michael, Jamie and Brian.
Frank Shuster (1916-2002) was born to Bess and Jack Shuster in Toronto. The family moved to Niagara Falls where Jack Shuster ran a local theatre called the Colonial Theatre. Married in 1947, Frank and his wife, Ruth Burstyn, had two children named Rosalind and Steve. Frank's cousin, Joe Shuster, was the creator of the Superman comic strip.
Wayne and Shuster met in the tenth grade at Harbord Collegiate in Toronto. Both studied English literature at the University of Toronto.
In 1941, they started a show called Wife Preservers for the radio station CFRB, after which they started writing and performing a comedy show called the Wayne and Shuster Show for the CBC's Trans-Canada Network. In 1942, they both joined the infantry and performed for the Army Show, travelling across Canada to different military bases. They took the show to Normandy after D-Day and wrote a fifty-two-week series for veterans. They also spent six weeks entertaining the Commonwealth Division in Korea. In 1946, they returned to the CBC, performing the Wayne and Shuster Show on the radio. In 1958, they appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show in the United States; in fact, they became a regular feature on Ed Sullivan, breaking the record for the number of appearances for any one guest. Wayne and Shuster created numerous hour-long television shows for the CBC, beginning with the Wayne and Shuster Hour in 1954, which aired once a month during the early years. It was later reduced to four shows per season.
Wayne and Shuster's comedy has been described as literate slapstick. They used classical, or Shakespearean, settings and characters as the backdrop for their comic skits. In 1999, they were inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
Henry Karpus was a former freelance writer, who wrote much of the material for the CBC's Happy Gang Show, with his partner, Russ Bradley. The pair also wrote some material for Wayne and Shuster's radio show in the early years, as well as for other CBC radio personalities. By 1950, Henry Karpus had also started writing for advertising agency Ronalds-Reynolds & Co. and later became speech writer for Prime Minister John Turner. He is currently chairman and chief executive of the Foote, Cone and Belding ad agency.
Scope and Content
This series consists of comedy scripts written by Johnny Wayne, Frank Shuster, Henry Karpus and Russell Bradley for several CBC radio and television comedy shows, including the Wayne and Shuster Show. In many cases, the scripts represent the working drafts of the writings and contain handwritten annotations and corrections. Also included are examples of skeleton or master key lists and joke-pot lists, which contain formulaic one-liners. These keys allowed the writers to use the same jokes repeatedly by simply substituting a few words.
The series has been arranged and described to the file level.
Associated material note: Library and Archives Canada has the Frank Shuster fonds, R4610-0-3-E. The CBC archives also has a small collection of Wayne and Shuster radio programs along with tapes of their television specials.