"Rubbing alcohol," Mortimer Snerd once observed, "doesn't improve its flavor." Snerd, of course, was a dummy, but the Jim Beam Distilling Company didn't hold that against him or his pal Charlie McCarthy in 1976 when it issued a pair of collectible china decanters in the image of the two wooden stars of Edgar Bergen's Charlie McCarthy Show. Bruce DuMont, host of WLS's Beyond the Beltway and founder of the Museum of Broadcast Communications, isn't sure how a set ended up in the museum's collection, but says Bergen's widow requested that they not be displayed. So the hooch--which collectors don't advise drinking, as aging it in ceramic doesn't do wonders for the taste either--is going on the block at the garage sale and auction the museum's holding this Saturday to help fund completion of its new home at State and Kinzie.
When the museum closed its doors at the Cultural Center in December, DuMont took inventory and pulled out a lot of memorabilia that wasn't going to make the move. He culled posters, photos, banners, autographed books and exhibit signs, furniture, TV monitors, graphics, plaques, and boilerplate commemorating broadcasters or great moments in broadcast history. McCarthy himself is not for sale, but in addition to the booze there are some singular items to be had: a set of water skis from the Ricki Lake Show, a pair of Bozo dolls signed by the show's final cast, props from Ali--portions of which were filmed at the museum--and decorative pieces from the Jack Benny vault, including the stuffed, rifle-toting guard who used to snooze on a stool next to the door. DuMont says he's seen better days.
The sale's open to the public from noon to 8 PM on Saturday, March 6, at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington. There's a suggested donation of $5; call 312-629-6019 or see www.museum.tv.