Celebrating the great Jewish comedians: Jack Benny


Photo of Jack Benny and Eddie Anderson

Benny Kubelsky who was born in Waukegan, Ill., the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia who owned a saloon, would grow up to became of the world’s greates comedians, Jack Benny.

A show business institution, Mr. Benny carved out a reputation in vaudville, radio, motion pictures and television. His humor was not that of the sharp repartee or one-line jokes or even prolonged comedy situations, but rather his “Mona Lisa” smile, his long drawn out “Hm-m-m-m,” his deadpan delivery, his tightfisted way with money, and his scratchy and off-key violin playing. In a telegram to the comedian’s wife, Mary Livingstone (Sadye Marks), President Ford summed up the feeling of millions: “If laughter is the music of the soul, Jack and his violin and his good humor have made life better for all men.”

Despite his self-styled image as a tightwad, Mr. Benny was generous with his money in real life and was a contributor to many causes, including Jewish and Israeli causes. He made a trip to Israel in the early 1970s where he appeared at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv at a concert sponsored by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. He also toured the country visiting hospitals and army camps. He had visited Palestine briefly during World War II as part of the Overseas Armed Forces.

Benny died of stomach cancer in Beverly Hills, California, on December 26, 1974.

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Today’s Chuckle

Today we’re posting clip of The Jack Benny Show from 1957 in which Jack was conducting a talent show to give a break to new performers called the Landrews Sisters, obviously a take-off on The Andrews Sisters. Not believing what he’s seeing, Benny takes off his glasses, shpritzes “Gropff” onto the lenses, and proceeds to clean them.

The “sisters” were in reality three actress/comedians: Muriel Landers, Iris Adrian, and June Earle.