skip navigation
Overview for Jack Benny
Jack Benny

Jack Benny


TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (5)

Recent DVDs

TV's Lost... TV's Lost Christmas Shows Collection: Volume 2 contains some of the greatest TV... more info $5.95was $6.95 Buy Now

All-Star... This 1958 Christmas spectacular was produced by the USO for the entertainment of... more info $11.95was $14.95 Buy Now

The Meanest... After adopting a ruthless persona for himself, a kindly small town lawyer finds... more info $19.95was $19.98 Buy Now

50s Comedy TV... 45 hilarious television classics! more info $25.95was $32.98 Buy Now

The Jack Benny... 20 episodes on 5 DVDs from the classic "Jack Benny Show" television series. more info $20.95was $25.98 Buy Now

Also Known As: Benjamin Kubelsky,Ben K Benny Died: December 26, 1974
Born: February 14, 1894 Cause of Death: pancreatic cancer
Birth Place: Waukegan, Illinois, USA Profession: Cast ... comedian actor vaudevillian violinist


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.

Benny made very occasional films beginning with the coming of sound. He was at his busiest in the 1930s and early 40s, and films ranging from "Chasing Rainbows" (1930) to "Broadway Melody of 1936" (1935), "Artists and Models" (1937), and "The Meanest Man in the World" (1943) all gave him some good one-liners and comic situations, but somehow Hollywood films never quite suited him. His unique star persona rarely found the right vehicles, and it was up to radio and later TV to showcase him properly. Two memorable exceptions were the cross-dressing farce "Charley's Aunt" (1941) and especially Ernst Lubitsch's hilarious dark satire of Nazism, "To Be or Not to Be" (1942), with Benny in peak form as hammy Polish actor Joseph Tura outwitting the Gestapo.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute