By Ken Foote

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite days of the year! So, being the old soul that I am, the late comedian Jack Benny came to mind.

First off the bat, Benny was actually born on Valentine’s Day 1894 in Waukegan, Illinois. Secondly, his longtime theme song was a popular hit during the 1930s, called “Love In Bloom.” With music by Ralph Rainger and lyrics by Leo Robin, it was first published and performed in 1934 as part of a Paramount Pictures movie “She Loves Me Not” starring Bing Crosby, Miriam Hopkins and Kitty Carlisle. Crosby recorded the song on July 5, 1934. The song was intended to be a ‘signature’ theme song for Carlisle but, as it happened, Benny was the one who the song ‘attached’ itself to when he would play it… off key!

Other artists who performed the song included Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra (Whiteman had a long association with NBC Radio, then moved to CBS Radio before ending up on ABC Radio). Another great version is one sung by Al Bowlly with Lew Stone and his Orchestra. Even The Platters recorded the song in 1959 for an album released that year.

The lyrics go like this (beginning with stanza two, that has the familiar music):

Can it be the trees that fill the breeze
With rare and magic perfume?
Oh, no, it isn’t the trees, it’s love in bloom
Can it be the spring that seems
To bring the stars right into this room?
Oh, no, it isn’t the spring, it’s love in bloom

Prior to his death in 1974, Benny appeared on “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson. At that time, he told Carson and the audience that he never really liked his theme song (although we don’t know for sure if he really felt that way or not, or just setting up the punch line). So, then he recited the lyrics above on the air and said, “Now, what the h— does that have to do with me?” Carson, his other guests and the audience just howled. Classic Jack Benny, whose comedy was based on the frailties of mankind!

I hope everyone has a very Happy Valentine’s Day!