Project Description

Jack Benny born Benjamin Kubelsky; February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974 was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, began to study the violin at the age of six, and a notable violinist. Recognized as a leading American entertainer of the 20th century, Benny portrayed character roles as a miser, and playing the violin badly. In character, he would be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age at the time.
Benny was known for comic timing, and ability to create laughter with a pregnant pauses or 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.
Benny quit school and joined vaudeville. In the same theatre that Benny was working with were the very young The Marx Brothers. Their mother, Minnie Marx, wanted Benny to go on the road with them. However, this plan was foiled by his parents who would not let their 17-year-old son on the road.
Having a successful vaudeville career, Benny also had a greater career on radio for “The Jack Benny Program”. The show was one of the few successful radio programs that also became a successful television show.
Benny also starred in several movies, including The Hollywood Revue of 1929 (1929), Broadway Melody of 1936 1935, The Horn Blows at Midnight 1945 and George Washington Slept Here 1942, although he had much greater success on radio and on TV than he did on the big screen.
He was good friends with Fred Allen, with whom he had a long-standing comic “feud”.
Diagnosed with diabetes type 1 he died the day after Christmas in 1974, at his home in Los Angeles, California, of pancreatic cancer. He and his wife had an adopted daughter, Joan Naomi Benny.