Skip to comments.Jack Benny was born 120 years ago today!
Posted on 02/14/2014 10:31:11 AM PST by lowbridge
Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky; February 14, 1894 December 26, 1974) was an American comedian,vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist. Recognized as a leading American entertainer of the 20th century, Benny portrayed his character as a miser, playing his violin badly. In character, he would be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.
Benny was known for comic timing, and the ability to create laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated Well! His radio and television programs, popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a major influence on the sitcom genre.
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And he’s still 39!
"Dad, I said, WE have a problem. WE can't both be 39."
He looked at me with that familiar grin and said "You have a problem".
Jack Benny and Bill Cosby were the greatest at making you laugh with just a look on their face. Bill is still doing it.
*And hes still 39!*
“Now Don, cut that out!”
Hate to say this, but he died in 1974. I have to wonder how many people younger than me even remember who he was?
I have no idea.
He was old when I was young.
I have a copy of his show where Julie London was the guest...he was almost drooling! He was one of the best!
Strange. I can listen to an old Jack Benny radio program and get a number of solid, genuine laughs from it.
Yet, I can have my television turned on to the “Comedy Central” network for a full day... with its rotten movies, boorish Stewart/Colbert smarminess, and its roster of tiresome and crude late-night standup comedians... and not even get a single smile, much less an actual laugh.
“Train leaving on track five for Anaheim, Azusa and Cu-ca-monga!”
the best comedian ever
(Carol Burnett a good second...)
“Strange. I can listen to an old Jack Benny radio program and get a number of solid, genuine laughs from it.”
Yep ! The radio “walk” to Benny’s vault was one of the funniest things ever.
120 years? Wow. It took almost that long to get into his vault!
To Be Or Not To Be
a great film
and another great one
The Horn Blows at Midnight
To celebrate, I should probably get out my old VHS bootleg tape of the movie “Love Thy Neighbor” (1940), which starred Benny and Fred Allen, playing up on their old feud. Pretty funny movie.
Jack Benny - Your Money or Your Life
“Jello again. This is your host, Jack Benny.”
Carmichael the polar bear. The banter with Phil Harris. The quiet shots from Mary Livingston. All classic.
Yessss, Mr. Benny!
In addition to Rochester, Don Wilson, and Dennis Day, he had great supporting players around him such as Mel Blanc, Frank Nelson, and Benny Rubin.
I remember a Christmas episode where Mel Blanc played a clerk in a department store where Jack was shopping. Jack Benny bought a wallet as a gift for Don Wilson, which Mel Blanc gift wrapped for him. Benny kept bringing the wallet back to Mel Blanc to be re-wrapped, with Blanc becoming more and more upset each time. Benny had to turn away from the camera to keep the audience from seeing how he was cracking up because of the way Mel Blanc was carrying on.
Thanks for posting that. Jack and Groucho were two classics, among the best.
Personally, I spent a month in Rancho Cucamonga one weekend.
Thanks! That was wonderful.
A lot of his stuff really holds up well. And he was just hysterical to watch.
I wonder how many young comics even know of him.
Ditto that. I remember sitting with my dad listening to that. I was just a little kid and thought it was funny as hell.
“Modesty is my best quality”
I agree. I wish there were an official title of Comedian Laureate. Cos would be mine (works clean, isn't mean, is actually funny....)
"I'm thinking. I'M THINKING!!"
and arguably the greatest sketch writers and prop men ever.
yep... and hence you have Laurel & Hardy, who visited Britain after their career had ended...
and they met mobs in the streets... they were so touched. I’ve seen photos of them in tears which was their reaction to the love and respect that England showed them. This is from a biography I read about them, and I can’t for the life of me remember the title.
Stan Laurel was pretty much out of the lion share of his money and living in an apartment in Santa Monica in his later years.
strange thing about America...
And the scene alone:
Around 1997 I was talking to a young co-worker about movies and tv. I mentioned John Belushi. She asked me who he was. I began to wonder if any of the young people ever heard of or liked comedians much older than themselves.
As children from the fifties and sixties, we loved Jack Benny, Red Skelton, The Stooges, and any other comedians who made us laugh. The people we laughed at didn't have to be close to our age. Funny was funny.
Thanks for the Youtube links! Classic stuff!
Stream or download the episodes. Great stuff.
There were several Christmas episodes with Mel Blanc...on radio anyway. One year he was buying shoelaces for Don (couldn’t decide between metal tips or plastic tips). Another year it was gopher traps (lethal or non?)
And Mel as his violin teacher.....
And his perpetually annoyed next-door neighbor, Ronald Colman; some of the most hilarious scenes ever!
It’s easy to get Benny’s radio shows for a pittance from several companies, or on eBay. The first one, from 1932, with George Olsen and his Music, exists in its entirety. (It’s not funny.) There are fragments of shows from 1933-36, and from then on they are virtually complete.
Fibber McGee and Molly are also available, almost their entire radio career.
Also, “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.”
My three favorite OTR programs.
Why pay, even a pittance, when you can download them off many sites for free?
Never heard Benny’s first program, but I’ve long known it circulates. Didn’t know George Olsen’s band was present. Always liked Olsen’s 1924 recording of “Beale Street Blues,” but his early-30s music had gotten rather mellow for my tastes.
I love Jack Benny. His stuff is better than most of what is around today. Listen to shows almost daily.
I think my favorite Olsen is “I’m Bringing a Red, Red Rose.” I have a mint copy—sounds cleaner than a couple of reissues I have.
And I love the Hollywood stuff—1929-30. It’s hot, but has the “California sound.” Sounds like Leroy Shield, Gus Arnheim, Jimmie Grier.
On the fragments of Benny shows from 1933-34, you can hear Frank Black’s orchestra. Awesome. One of those big-budget, elephantine, but hot, hot radio orchestras. It’s maddening that only snippets survive.
Not familiar with Frank Black, but it does sound like something I might like. I am fond of that sort of full-blooded, bouncy, vibrant radio/studio orchestra sound, like in the vein of the 1936 Bill Challis radio transcriptions.
Plus, I do like the uniquely ‘lilting’ sound of 1920s California/West Coast bands, such as Herb Wiedoeft, Abe Lyman, Herman Kenin and such... the sort of breezy, laid-back style that’s reminiscent of what one hears in the old, early-30s Hal Roach comedy shorts.
One nice, later George Olsen record I have, and always particularly liked, is his version of “Big City Blues.” The 78rpm I have is in almost near-mint condition. I also really like his “Everybody Loves My Baby” recording.