About Jack Benny
Benjamin Kubelsky (February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974), known professionally as Jack Benny, was an American entertainer, who evolved from a modest success playing violin on the vaudeville circuit to one of the leading entertainers of the twentieth century with a highly popular comedic career in radio, television, and film. He was known for his comic timing and the ability to cause laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated “Well! ”.
His radio and television programs, popular from 1932 until his death in 1974, were a major influence on the sitcom genre. Benny often portrayed his character as a miser who obliviously played his violin badly and ridiculously claimed to be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.
In 1911, he began playing the violin in local vaudeville theaters for $7.50 a week. That same year, Benny was playing in the same theater as the young Marx Brothers. Minnie, their mother, enjoyed Benny’s violin playing and invited him to accompany her boys in their act; it was the beginning of his long friendship with the Marx Brothers, especially Zeppo Marx.
Benny had been a minor vaudeville performer before becoming a national figure with ‘The Jack Benny Program’, a weekly radio show; it was among the most highly rated programs during its run. After making his television debut in 1949 on local Los Angeles station KTTV, the network television version of ‘The Jack Benny Program’ ran from October 28, 1950, to 1965. Learn More…