Jack Benny, born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor.
Widely recognized as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, Benny played the role of the comic penny-pinching miser, insisting on remaining 39 years old on stage despite his actual age, and often (although an accomplished violinist) playing the violin – poorly!
Benny was known for his comic timing and ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature wave of the hand with an exasperated “Well!”
His radio & television programs, tremendously popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a foundational influence on the situation comedy genre. Dean Martin, on the celebrity roast for Johnny Carson in November 1973, introduced Benny as “the Satchel Paige of the world of comedy.”
Benny had been only a minor vaudeville performer, but he became a national figure with The Jack Benny Program, a weekly radio show which ran from 1932 to 1948 on NBC and from 1949 to 1955 on CBS. It was consistently among the most highly rated programs during most of that run.
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