Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky)

Jack Benny

Jack Benny

Actor, Producer, Comedian. He is best remembered for his comically inept violin playing (he was actually a very good violin player), his carefully constructed image as a penny-pincher, and for never being older than 39. His most famous joke was as a man confronted by a robber who demands “Your money or your life!” to which Jack pauses for an extremely long silence, then replies “I’m thinking it over!” Born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago, Illinois, he was raised in Waukegan, Illinois, (the Jack Benny Middle School’s football team is called the 39er’s, in his honor). He began in Vaudeville as a violin player after serving in the US Navy during World War I. He appeared in a number of movie shorts, getting his movie breakthrough in MGM’s “The Hollywood Revue” (1929), and got the lead role in “The Medicine Man” (1930) (both films did not do well). Although he continued to appear in a number of movies during the 1930s and 1940s, he made his name known on radio, where he established himself as a comedian, portraying himself as a wisecracking, penny-pinching, tightwad. His self-depreciating humor style quickly found a wide audience. His real life wife, Sadye Marks, whom he married in 1927, worked with him under the stage name of Mary Livingstone. From 1950 to 1965, he had his own television show “The Jack Benny Show,” which was a hit throughout its run. In 1962, Jack appeared on the game show “The $64,000 Question” when after answering the first question (worth $64), he quit and took home the money, rather than risk losing it on a second question (his category was violins). He died the day after Christmas 1974, at his home in Los Angeles, California, of pancreatic cancer. He and his wife had an adopted daughter, Joan Naomi Benny.

Born

  • February, 14, 1894
  • Chicago, Illinois

Died

  • December, 26, 1974
  • Bel Air, Los Angeles

Cause of Death

  • Pancreatic cancer

Cemetery

  • Hillside Memorial Park
  • Culver City, California

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