Great moments in Jewish comic history: Jack Benny on Laugh-In


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 greatest 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.”

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was one of the most popular TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s. One of their regular segments was Story Time. In this segment, Jack Benny is asked to tell a story for a Scandinavian audience. When he protests that he can’t speak Scandinavian, the hosts provide him with a Scandinavian translator played by hilarious comedian Arte Johnson.