BENNY, JACK (formerly Benny Kubelsky; 1894–1974), U.S. vaudeville, film, radio, and television entertainer. Benny won virtually every award in the entertainment industry, including an Emmy as television's outstanding comedian. Benny portrayed an unyielding skinflint, an atrocious fiddler, and a demanding boss. A steady cast of characters, including his wife, Mary Livingstone (née Sadye Marks, 1909–1983), and valet, Rochester (Eddie Anderson), ran through his shows. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Benny was raised in Waukegan, a place he made reference to during his entire career. Although   there is now a school named after him in Waukegan (Jack Benny Junior High School), Benny's education consisted of one term at Central High School. He worked in his father's haberdashery shop, then at age 16 he got a job playing violin in the pit of the town's Barrison Theater. After spending several years on the road with various partners in piano-violin duos he joined the Navy, where his talent for stand-up comedy was revealed. After his naval stint he created a solo vaudeville act, which ultimately got him noticed by the film industry. In 1928 he appeared in the short film Bright Moments and in 1929 headlined in the films Hollywood Revue of 1929 and Chasing Rainbows, and in Medicine Man (1930). With this national exposure in film, Benny became a star. In 1932 Benny hit the radio waves, featured on his friend Ed Sullivan's talk show. Two months later, Benny was the host of his own radio program. Over the next eight years, he became one of the biggest names in radio with his weekly half-hour comedy show. According to Benny, comedy was based on seven principles: the joke, exaggeration, ridicule, ignorance, surprise, the pun, and the comic situation. Fine-tuning those principles as he went along, Benny added a regular cast to his show. In addition to Rochester and his wife, Mary, they included Phil Harris, Dennis Day, and Don Wilson. In 1950 Benny advanced to television. The Jack Benny Show entertained 18 million viewers for 15 years. Some of the classic recurring themes were his stinginess, his vanity about his supposed age of 39, a basement vault where he kept all his money, and a feigned ineptness at playing the violin. Added to Benny's famous pregnant pause and exasperated "Well\!" were a mincing walk, an affected hand to the cheek, and a sustained look of disbelief when confronted by a problem. During that time he starred in several films as well: The Big Broadcast of 1937, Buck Benny Rides Again (1940), Love Thy Neighbor (1940), Charley's Aunt (1941), To Be or Not to Be (1942), and Who Was That Lady? (1962). When his TV show ended in 1965, the perennial 39-year-old was 71. But he did not retire from his beloved show business. He appeared in the films: It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1967), A Guide for the Married Man (1967), and The Man (1972). He returned to NBC once a year to do a TV special, performed with symphonies, and made numerous live appearances in theaters in the U.S. and abroad. Although the character he portrayed on radio and tv was as miserly as they come, the real Jack Benny was extremely generous. And at age 60, he began to take violin lessons to perfect his craft. He played benefit concerts to sell-out audiences to raise money for musicians and concert halls. In 1961 his benefit concert helped save New York's Carnegie Hall from being demolished. In addition, he raised $20,000 for the construction of a music center near Waukegan, and $838,000 for a conservatory at the University of Hartford. In 1974, his final year, he was working on his third TV Farewell Special for NBC and preparing for his first starring role in a film in 30 years. He was to co-star with Walter Matthau in the comedy The Sunshine Boys. However, when the movie was completed, Benny's best friend George Burns played the part in his place. In 1989 Jack Benny was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. With his daughter, Joan, he co-wrote his memoirs, entitled Sunday Nights at Seven, which was published posthumously in 1990. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Fein, Jack Benny: An Intimate Biography (1976); M. Josefsberg, The Jack Benny Show (1977). (Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Benny, Jack — (1894 1974)    Comedian Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky to a Russian immigrant father and Lithuanian mother in Chicago. He began his career in vaudeville at the age of 18 as Ben K. Benny. During World War I, Benny served in the navy and… …   Historical Dictionary of the Roosevelt–Truman Era

  • Benny, Jack — orig. Benjamin Kubelsky born Feb. 14, 1894, Chicago, Ill., U.S. died Dec. 27, 1974, Beverly Hills, Calif. U.S. comedian. He took up the violin as a boy and played it in vaudeville from 1912. After discovering a talent for comedy while in the navy …   Universalium

  • Benny, Jack — orig. Benjamin Kubelsky (14 feb. 1894, Chicago, Ill., EE.UU.–27 dic. 1974, Beverly Hills, Cal.). Comediante estadounidense. Durante su infancia comenzó a estudiar el violín y, en 1912, se inició en el vodevil como instrumentista. Después de… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Benny,Jack — Ben·ny (bĕnʹē), Jack. Originally Benjamin Kubelsky. 1894 1974. American comedian known for his delayed comic delivery and for his shows on radio (1932 1955) and television (1950 1965), which featured sketches based on his fictitious miserliness,… …   Universalium

  • Benny, Jack (Kublesky, Benjamin) — (1894 1974)    American comedian. Born in Waukegan, Illinois, he studied violin and entered vaudeville. His first film appearance took place in 1929, but he gained success on radio and later on television …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Jack Benny — Jack Benny, 1958 Nombre real Benjamin Kubelsky Nacimiento 14 de febrero de 1894 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jack y su gran show de música — es un programa de televisión para niños que está siendo emitido en la cadena de televisión Nick Jr. La serie se estrenó en la misma red (llamada Noggin) el 12 de septiembre de 2005. Jack y su gran show de música fue nominado para un Premio Emmy… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jack Lescoulie — Nacimiento: 17 de noviembre de 1912 …   Wikipedia Español

  • Jack Benny — Infobox Radio Presenter name = Jack Benny imagesize = caption = 1942 portrait photograph of Jack Benny. birthname = Benjamin Kubelsky birthdate = birth date|1894|2|14|mf=y birthplace = Waukegan, Illinois deathdate = death date and age… …   Wikipedia

  • Jack Benny — Harry Truman et Jack Benny Jack Benny est un acteur, humoriste et producteur américain né le 14 février 1894 à Chicago, Illinois (États Unis), décédé le 26 décembre 1974 à Holmby Hills (Los Angeles) …   Wikipédia en Français

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.