Jack Benny

Comedian, Actor, Vaudevillian
Masterful, much-loved comedian and comic actor, an influential yet essentially inimitable staple of radio and later TV for half a century. Benny's star persona was famous for its cynical, worrisome, almost mean nature; ... Read more »
Born: 02/14/1894 in Waukegan, Illinois, USA

Filmography

Actor (42)

100 Greatest Stand-Ups of All Time 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)

Actor

That's Entertainment! III 1994 (Movie)

Song Performer (Actor)

More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Entertaining the Troops 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Going Hollywood: The War Years 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Swing Out, Sweet Land 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Annie and the Hoods 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)

Actor

A Show Business Salute to Milton Berle 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Benny's Second Farewell Show 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)

Actor

How to Handle a Woman 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Benny's First Farewell Show 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (02/08/73) 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

City vs. Country 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (11/07/71) 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Actor

Jack Benny's 20th Anniversary TV Special 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (12/07/70) 1970 - 1971 (TV Show)

Actor

The Man 1971 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Frank Sinatra Jr. With Family and Friends 1969 - 1970 (TV Show)

Actor

The Ann-Margret Show 1968 - 1969 (TV Show)

Actor

A Guide For the Married Man 1967 (Movie)

Guest Star (Actor)

The Jack Benny Special 1965 - 1966 (TV Show)

Actor

Have Girls -- Will Travel 1964 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

The Jack Benny Program 1950 - 1965 (TV Show)

Actor

It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World 1963 (Movie)

Man on Road (Actor)

The Jack Benny Hour 1962 - 1963 (TV Show)

Actor

Gypsy 1962 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

To Be or Not to Be 1941 (Movie)

Joseph Tura (Actor)

Artists and Models 1936 (Movie)

(Actor)

Broadway Melody of 1936 1935 (Movie)

(Actor)

Hollywood Revue of 1929 1929 (Movie)

Master of Ceremonies (Actor)

Charley's Aunt (Movie)

Babbs Babberley, Lord Fancourt (Actor)

College Holiday (Movie)

J. Davis Bowster (Actor)

George Washington Slept Here (Movie)

Bill Fuller (Actor)

Hollywood Canteen (Movie)

Guest (Actor)

It's in the Air (Movie)

Calvin Churchill (Actor)

It's in the Bag (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Big Broadcast of 1937 (Movie)

Jack Carson (Actor)

The Horn Blows at Midnight (Movie)

Athanael (Actor)

The Meanest Man in the World (Movie)

Richard Clark (Actor)
Producer (1)

The Lucky Stiff (Movie)

(Producer)

Biography

Masterful, much-loved comedian and comic actor, an influential yet essentially inimitable staple of radio and later TV for half a century. Benny's star persona was famous for its cynical, worrisome, almost mean nature; its miserliness; and for Benny's insistence on playing the violin (poorly) at social gatherings. (In real life Benny was actually a fairly accomplished violinist--hence his ability to butcher it so well.) Among many comic mannerisms Benny perfected were an effeminate walk and accompanying gestures; a highly deliberate, leisurely paced line delivery; and, best of all, a withering, long-suffering stare at the camera as he endured other characters' many intended or accidental insults. Among the loyal comic company he cultivated were announcer Don Wilson and singer Dennis Day, his real-life wife Mary Livingstone, and most memorable of all, Eddie Anderson as "Rochester", the valet with whom Benny shared a surprisingly intimate and complex relationship.

Relationships

Meyer Kubelsky

Father

Emma Kubelsky

Mother

Joan Benny

Daughter
adopted 1934 at two weeks of age

Mary Livingstone

Wife
married in January 1927 introduced to Benny by Zeppo Marx joined Benny's vaudeville act in 1927

EDUCATION

Waukegan High School

Waukegan , Illinois

Milestones

1949

Sole film as producer (did not appear in film), "The Lucky Stiff"

1932

Starred on own radio show

1929

Feature film debut in "Hollywood Revue of 1929"

1928

Film acting debut in short, "Jack Benny in Bright Moments"

1917

Joined Navy and tried to entertain sailors by playing violin; was booed; actor Pat O'Brien suggested he talk to audience instead

1911

Offered $15 a week to tour with the Marx Brothers; mother turned down offer

Ended extensive radio work to concentrate on TV

Learned to play violin; got first job with the pit orchestra in a Waukegan theater

Hosted TV's "The Jack Benny Program"

Changed name to Ben K Benny because there was a violinist named Jan Kubelik; later changed name to Jack Benny because there was a popular bandleader named Ben Bernie

Bonus Trivia

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Posthumously inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1988.

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"George [Burns] didn't have to do anything, and my father would laugh, because he knew he was about to be insulted. It was a Pavlov's dog kind of relationship, the kind that extended to my father's relationship with the audience. He had trained audiences over the years with the miserly character to the point that you only had to mention money, not even tell the joke, and they laughed. They were conditioned." --Joan Benny in New York Post, December 10, 1990.

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