1894–1974, American comedian, b. Waukegan, Ill., as Benjamin Kubelsky. His shows on radio (1932–55) and television (1950–65) made famous his miserliness, reproachful silences, and violin. His films include To Be or Not to Be (1942).
Benny, Jack (1894–1974)
the king of penny pinchers. [Radio: “The Jack Benny Program” in Buxton, 122–123; TV: Terrace, 402]
(1894–1974) comedian; born in Chicago, Ill. He dropped out of high school to play violin for vaudeville companies, and discovered his own talent for comedy while appearing in U.S. Navy shows in 1918. Combining his violin with his comic routines, in the 1920s he toured in vaudeville and made a few movies. In 1927 he married Sadye Marks, a clerk in a retail store; she adopted the name Mary Livingstone and became a foil for his comic routines. He went on to become an American institution on radio, first with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) (1932–48), then with CBS (1948–55), where his own character—a mildly neurotic, self-important tightwad—and a regular supporting cast managed to milk laughs from endless variations on a few themes. He made occasional appearances on television in the early 1950s before settling into the Jack Benny Show (1955–65), where to his famous radio shticks—the pregnant pause and the perfectly timed, "Well!"—he added the slow take and the piqued stare. Over his career he had made a score of movies, the most notable being To Be or Not to Be (1942). After giving up his regular television show, he continued to appear on television specials, and he made a new career playing his violin in benefit concerts with the nation's symphony orchestras. In real life he was said to have the very opposite of his comic persona—generous, modest, and considerate.