In September 1954, CBS premiered Chrysler's Shower of Stars co-hosted by Jack Benny and William Lundigan. Then in their minds I become a real character.”. Both television shows often overlapped the radio show. CBS dropped the show in 1964, citing Benny's lack of appeal to the younger demographic the network began courting, and he went to NBC, his original network, in the fall, only to be out-rated by CBS's Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. He was 89. It started with a guest shot on Ed Sullivan's radio show and before the year was out, he had his own program on the National Broadcasting Company network. He followed with specials and guest appearances. The cartoon ends with a classic Benny look of befuddlement. Jack Benny was one of William Paley’s main targets in the famous CBS Talent Raids of 1948-49. Often as not, Benny would sign off the radio show in such circumstances with the line "Well, good night, folks. The critics said the show had little visual attraction, that it relied too heavily on the radio tradition. The boy was soon giving concerts at the town's Barrison Theater. Minnie, their mother, enjoyed Benny's violin playing and invited him to accompany her boys in their act. He began, more than ever, to play nightclubs, the Sahara in Las Vegas, the Waldorf‐Astoria's Room here. Life became the customary round of one‐night stands in the Midwest, and the young performer was not, at least not yet, the man to startle the vaudeville bookers. After the war, he embarked on the highly competitive career of the ad libber, where his greatest asset soon proved to be his instinct for proper timing. Two holidays figured prominently in his life: Born on St. Valentine's Day, 1894, he died on the day after Christmas, Boxing Day, 80 years later. Benny, Mary Livingstone, Hilliard Marks, & Marcia Borie. He died of heart disease in February 1977 at the age of 71. Benny often parodied contemporary films and genres on the radio program, and the 1940 film Buck Benny Rides Again features all the main radio characters in a funny Western parody adapted from program skits. Granted, not everything’s quite accurate; he is relying on 30-year-old radio memories in an age where you couldn’t go line and listen to the old Benny shows for as long as you wanted. A pause could set up a joke—or bury it. When Benny moved to television, audiences learned that his verbal talent was matched by his controlled repertory of dead-pan facial expressions and gesture. Mary Livingstone finally retired from show business permanently in 1958, as her friend Gracie Allen had done. Jack Benny, original name Benjamin Kubelsky, (born February 14, 1894, Chicago—died December 27, 1974, Beverly Hills, California, U.S.), entertainer whose unusual comedic method and expert timing made him a legendary success in U.S. radio and television for more than 30 years.. Benny Kubelsky was reared in Waukegan, Illinois, a small city north of … That same year, Benny was playing in the same theater as the young Marx Brothers. herd the family into their home's library every Sunday night to hear the Jack Benny show on radio. The celebrated comic who brought laughter to America for 40 years passed away in 1974 at age 80 from cancer. In a telegram to the comedian's widow, President Ford said. Minnesota Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Phil Harris, the bandleader who became famous by portraying himself as a flashy, hard-drinking musician on the old Jack Benny radio show, died late Friday. “There is no tranquilizer like a prepared script,” he once explained. March made an appearance on Benny's show the same year. At first dubious about the viability of radio, Benny grew eager to break into the new medium. As a result, he was often the butt of his second bananas, who devastated him with their barbs. Silence punctuated with laughter from the audience. Benny was able to attract guests who rarely, if ever, appeared on television. Holiday,” “Artists and Models,” “Transatlantic Merry‐Go‐Round,” “Buck Benny Rides Again,” “Charley's Aunt,” “To Be or Not to Be,” “George Washington Slept Here,” The Meanest Man in the World” and “The Horn Blows at Midnight.”, Several years ago, when an interviewer asked him why he was making television commercials, Mr. Benny replied: “Show business has changed. He said that while the ratings were still very good (he cited a figure of some 18 million viewers per week, although he qualified that figure by saying he never believed the ratings services were doing anything more than guessing, no matter what they promised), advertisers were complaining that commercial time on his show was costing nearly twice as much as what they paid for most other shows, and he had grown tired of what was called the "rate race". This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. Mr. Benny, who died at 11:32 P.M. (2:32 A.M. Friday, New York time), is survived by his widow, an adopted daughter, Joan Blumoff, and several grandchildren. Jack had not remembered their earlier meeting and instantly fell for her. The next year, Benny formed a vaudeville musical duo with pianist Cora Folsom Salisbury, a buxom 45-year-old divorcée who needed a partner for her act. By 1921, the fiddle was more of a prop, and the low-key comedy took over. Soon he went on to Hollywood, and in 1932, he found his most durable niche: radio. The stamp designs were drawn by caricaturist Al Hirschfeld. Is Jack Benny still alive? He was one of the most famous names in show business for more than 50 years and was an eminent star of radio, the stage and screen. “The sound intoxicated me. But his batting average is pretty good and his sentiments will be on the mark in the minds of Benny fans reading it. He still sawed away at his violin, and his never‐completed rendition of “Love in Bloom” became a hallmark of the show. The next film, Chasing Rainbows, did not do well, and after several months Benny was released from his contract and returned to Broadway in Earl Carroll's Vanities. Benny went into a coma at home on December 22, 1974. Benny was so impressed with MacKenzie's talents that he served as co-executive producer and guest starred on her 1957–1958 NBC variety show, The Gisele MacKenzie Show. He was … It was not the words that brought the house down. The Jack Benny Program, which starred no less than Jack Benny himself, was a comedy series than went on-air for more than 30 years in both radio and television.It premiered on NBC Blue on May 2, 1932, and had its last episode on CBS radio on May 22, 1955, producing a … When Salisbury left the act, Benny found a new pianist, Lyman Woods, and renamed the act "From Grand Opera to Ragtime." He was a dreamer and poor at his studies, and was ultimately expelled from high school. Pictured on one of five 29¢ US commemorative postage stamps celebrating famous comedians, issued in booklet form 29 August 1991. But Mr. Benny somehow came out ahead. I have everybody's faults. At rehearsal, Mr. Benny would be sober‐faced and worried about details. We are unaware of information about Jack's immediate family. [42] Its motto matches his famous statement as "Home of the '39ers". He was born on February 14, 1894. "[21] He wrote in a later column, "I think you're right."[22]. Jack Benny passed away on December 26, 1974 at 80 years old. Postal Service had issued a stamp depicting Benny in 1991 as part of a booklet of stamps honoring comedians; however, the stamp was issued at the then-current rate of 29 cents. The program was similar to the radio show (several of the radio scripts were recycled for television, as was somewhat common with other radio shows that moved to television), but with the addition of visual gags. Jack Benny's very special talent for the comic was, according to his own analysis, an ability to mirror the failings people recognized in themselves or their acquaintances. For the 1953–1954 season, half the episodes were live and half were filmed during the summer, to allow Benny to continue doing his radio show. [41], Jack Benny Middle School in Waukegan is named after Benny. From the fall of 1954 to 1960, it appeared every other week, and from 1960 to 1965 it was seen weekly. That's all I can say. Graduating from Manhattan College, he first had designs on a law career and starting singing in order to earn money for tuition. O.K., there were some men who may have been a little "light in the loafers" as well, but the important point is that NONE OF THEM WAS HAVING SEX … Work with Jack Benny. He prevailed upon his longtime best friend, George Burns, to take his place on a nightclub tour while preparing for the film. Benny began studying violin, an instrument that became his trademark, at the age of 6, his parents hoping for him to become a professional violinist. He did radio shows and briefly formed a duo with Reg Varney, but it was his talent for comic timing and for impressions that got him his first break on television with the show, "Hi There" in 1949. They worked together for five years and slowly integrated comedy elements into the show. She was working in the hosiery section of the Hollywood Boulevard branch of the May Company, where Benny courted her. A frequent guest was the Canadian-born singer-violinist Gisele Mackenzie. In 1953, both Marilyn Monroe and Humphrey Bogart made their television debuts on Benny's program. Her older sister Babe would be often the target of jokes about unattractive or masculine women, while her younger brother Hilliard would later produce Benny's radio and TV work. The strength and promise of his lilting tenor was first discovered while performing with his glee club at St. Patrick's Cathedral High School. Joan, 86, has vivid memories of the man she still “absolutely” adores. His daughter, Joan, opened up about the comedian earlier this week. His silence was eloquent and his double‐takes were the envy, of his profession. CBS aired repeat episodes from 1956 to 1958 as The Best of Benny. [26], In October 1974, Benny cancelled a performance in Dallas after suffering a dizzy spell, coupled with numbness in his arms. But Mr. Benny made the grade with his third telecast the next April when he drastically altered his old routines and caused one critid to observe, “Mr. The show continued on Blue for six months until October 26, moving to CBS on October 30, now airing Thursdays and Sundays. Benny also was caricatured in several Warner Brothers cartoons including Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur (1939, as Casper the Caveman), I Love to Singa, Slap Happy Pappy, and Goofy Groceries (1936, 1940, and 1941 respectively, as Jack Bunny[23]), Malibu Beach Party (1940, as himself),[24] and The Mouse that Jack Built (1959). On March 28, 1954, Benny co-hosted General Foods 25th Anniversary Show: A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein with Groucho Marx and Mary Martin. [40], When the price of a standard first-class U.S. postal stamp was increased to 39 cents in 2006, fans petitioned for a Jack Benny stamp to honor his stage persona's perpetual age. No one was ever excused from listening. Thus, after some three decades on radio and television in a weekly program, Jack Benny went out on top. He was absolutely serious about his work, in a way that many other comedians were not. It stayed there for the remainder of its radio run, ending on May 22, 1955. In 1929, Benny's agent, Sam Lyons, convinced Irving Thalberg, American film producer at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, to watch Benny at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles. “I soon discovered that telling jokes was not a breeze, after all,” he reminisced. Betty Sue Lynns death wasnt until July 29, 2013. When he “retired,” he found himself almost as busy as ever, on television and in personal appearances. ... Jack was 80 years old when he died in 1974 from pancreatic cancer. His radio and television programs, popular from 1932 until his death in 1974, were a major influence on the sitcom genre. He was known for his comic timing and the ability to cause laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!". Mary Livingstone, his wife, Don Wilson, the announcer, and Phil Harris, the orchestra leader, also shared in the laugh lines. [33][34] Benny had commented, "If it isn't a $30,000 Strad, I'm out $120. I'm changing with it. By himself, he … [11], Benny's long radio career began on April 6, 1932, when the NBC Commercial Program Department auditioned him for the N. W. Ayer & Son agency and their client, Canada Dry, after which Bertha Brainard, head of the division, said, "We think Mr. Benny is excellent for radio and, while the audition was unassisted as far as orchestra was concerned, we believe he would make a great bet for an air program." He loved the instrument, but hated practice. Under legal pressure, Benjamin Kubelsky agreed to change his name to Ben K. Benny, sometimes spelled Bennie. Jack Benny, born as Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, and actor. It was not so much in his lines and in his delivery that he Scored successes. The U.S. In 1911, he began playing the violin in local vaudeville theaters for $7.50 a week (about $210 in 2020 dollars). A statue of Benny with his violin stands in downtown Waukegan.[43][44]. Benny may have had an uncredited cameo role in Casablanca, claimed by a contemporary newspaper article[19] and advertisement[20] and reportedly in the Casablanca press book. One of his most famous bits had him being held up by bandit who demanded “your money or your life.” Silence. We know that Jack Benny had been residing in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California 90212. When asked in his column "Movie Answer Man", film critic Roger Ebert first replied, "It looks something like him. Zolotow, Maurice. He continued to make occasional specials into the 1970s, the last one airing in January 1974. "[28] Benny was interred in a crypt at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. See the article in its original context from. Benny had some romantic encounters, including one with dancer Mary Kelly,[2]:23–24 whose devoutly Catholic family forced her to turn down his proposal because he was Jewish. ... Bert Lahr and Mr. Burns's closest friend for a half-century, Jack Benny. [32] Benny also donated a Stradivarius violin (purchased in 1957) to the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. Adopting the stage name Mary Livingstone, Sadie collaborated with Benny throughout most of his career. reported that, The coroner concluded he fell from his horse while crossing the stream, struck his head, was rendered unconscious and drowned. In his unpublished autobiography, I Always Had Shoes (portions of which were later incorporated by Jack's daughter, Joan Benny, into her memoir of her parents, Sunday Nights at Seven), Benny said that he, not NBC, made the decision to end his TV series in 1965. He was in character, dressed in what he would wear on television and playing the violin. Benny made one of his final television appearances on January 23, 1974, as a guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,[25] the day before his final television special aired. Lucky Strike was the sponsor. Before the cat can devour the mice, Benny himself awakens from his dream, then shakes his head, smiles wryly, and mutters, "Imagine, me and Mary as little mice." He appeared in many special telecasts. "Stars Shine Best When Polished: a B-T Interview with Jack Benny," Broadcasting-Telecasting, 15 October 1956, 122. Their first meeting did not go well when he tried to leave during Sadie's violin performance. He received more comedy spots in the revues and did well, earning a reputation as a comedian and musician. Day appeared sporadically, and Harris had left the radio program in 1952, although he did make a guest appearance on the television show (Bob Crosby, Phil's "replacement", frequently appeared on television through 1956). By 1926, he had a part in a Broadway musical, “The Great Temptations.”. Everything he told them was completely made up. He carefully developed a performing character as a tight‐fisted, somewhat pompous fellow who walked with a mincing, almost effeminate gait, and often ex‐I pressed exasperation merely by resting his chin in his hand and making his blue eyes stare, martyrlike, at his viewers. His stars for television and motion pictures are located at 6370 and 6650 Hollywood Boulevard, respectively, and at 1505 Vine Street for radio. Even earlier, however, he had made the acquaintance of the new medium, television. In 1970, it was estimated that he had raised $5‐million in 14 years. [2]:30–31 They met again in 1926. He and Livingstone also appeared in Ed Sullivan's Mr. Broadway (1933) as themselves. After Joan, his wife of 69 years, died in July 2017, he … Although it was widely known that he possessed a ready wit and a wonderful humor, which he often demonstrated in off‐the‐cuff observations on off‐the‐air occasions, he never—well, almost never—deviated from the, script his highly paid writers had created for him. Other comedians projected their own personalities into stage situations that made an audience laugh. Recalling the experience in 1956, Benny said Ed Sullivan had invited him to guest on his program (1932), and "the agency for Canada Dry ginger ale heard me and offered me a job."[12]. The last of these is probably the most memorable: Robert McKimson engaged Benny and his actual cast (Mary Livingstone, Eddie Anderson, and Don Wilson) to do the voices for the mouse versions of their characters, with Mel Blanc—the usual Warner Brothers cartoon voicemeister—reprising his old vocal turn as the always-aging Maxwell, always a phat-phat-bang! It gave a performer close-up exposure that, week after week, threatened his existence as an interesting entertainer."[2]:279. The network dropped Benny at the end of the season. He chose Jack Benny. Benny's television program relied more on guest stars and less on his regulars than his radio program. Mr. Benny was meticulous in preparation. At 14, Benny was playing in dance bands and his high school orchestra. Jack died on July 24, 1984, at just 34 years old, while attempting to ford the Duck River at the Lynns family ranch. The real reason that the supposition that Jack Benny was gay is so ludicrous is the simple fact that no one had sex before 1974 any way! Lee's final few years were tumultuous. It was rumored that Benny requested that, in lieu of monetary compensation, he receive a copy of the finished film. The university established the Jack Benny Award for Comedy in his honor in 1977 to recognize outstanding people in the field of comedy. He was tireless in performing at benefit concerts on behalf of musical causes whether to save Carnegie Hall or to keep an orchestra afloat. “The audience laughed,” he later recalled. Other times you had to ride it hard. Authorities say he most likely struck his head on a … On Easter Sunday morning in 1992, just two hours after he had been speaking to a television producer about yet another comeback, and five days after being released from hospital after a heart-scare, seventy-five- year-old Frankie Howerd collapsed and died. With Canada Dry ginger ale as a sponsor, Benny came to radio on The Canada Dry Program, on May 2, 1932, broadcast on Mondays and Wednesdays on the NBC Blue Network, featuring George Olsen and his orchestra. He died in Los Angeles and buried in Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery . After word Thursday, that Mr. Benny had terminal Cancer, Gov. He started out as a serious musician, before he discovered he could make people laugh. 1934). Television, 1950-65: The Jack Benny Show, in which his character was forever 39 years old.