Friday 8 March 2024

Jack Benny (1894 – 1974) – American entertainer

Born Benjamin Kubelsky on 14th February 1894 in Chicago, he was the son of Meyer Kubelsky (1864–1946), who was from Poland, and his wife Emma Sachs Kubelsky (1869–1917), who was from Lithuania.  The family lived in Waukegan, an industrial suburb of Chicago, Illinois, USA.  Benny began studying the violin when he was six years old.  

However, he was a dreamer and poor at his school studies, and was expelled from high school.   In 1911, he began playing the violin in local vaudeville theaters.

Benny left show business briefly in 1917 to join the United States Navy during World War I, often entertaining fellow sailors with his violin playing. One evening, his violin performance was booed by the sailors, so with prompting from fellow sailor and actor Pat O'Brien, he ad-libbed his way out of the jam and left them laughing. He received more comedy spots in the revues and did well, earning a reputation as a comedian and musician.

HJack Benny's radio and television programmes, 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 played his violin badly and ridiculously claimed to be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.

Jack Benny died on 26th December 1974.