Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Jack Benny was a household name when I was a kid. Jack went from vaudeville to radio to television. He even made some movies in between. I remember him for his television show that aired in the 50's and 60's.

Jack actually started out as a violinist - and was quite good. The Marx Brothers at one time wanted to use Jack to play violin for their act. Minnie Marx really adored Jack and wanted to take him on the road with her sons. Unfortunately Benny's parents didn't want their 17 year old son traveling in a vaudeville act. It was during that time that Zeppo Marx befriended Jack. They became life long friends.

Jack really wanted a career as musician - but fate wouldn't have it that way. While entertaining during WWII, he was booed by the troops. To keep from surrendering the stage - he put aside his violin and ad-libed a comedy routine. He found his calling - Jack was a natural. He once said that he never really pursued his career - he was fortunate that every fortune just happened to him.

After a long successful career - he told Johnny Carson that "if God came to me and said, 'Jack, starting tomorrow I will make you one of the world's great violinists, but no more will you ever be able to tell a joke', I really believe that I would accept that."

Jack had incredible comic timing and still to this day fun to watch. I love the whole cast of the old television show. I've got a collection of his shows on DVD - and I've been enjoying them this past week. This isn't the funniest episode of his show, but it's great to see Bing Crosby and George Burns in this episode.

Some of these episodes are can be viewed on YouTube. If you happened to watch a few more - look for Mel Blanc. You'll remember Mel as the voice of all those classic Warner Brother cartoon characters. Mel was a regular on the Jack Benny Show. Good stuff!

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