Jack Benny

Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky, February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) was a comedian, vaudeville performer, film actor, and one of the most prominent early stars of American radio and television. Often cited for his impeccable comic timing, Benny was an influential comedy innovator, a major architect of the modern forms of standup comedy and situation comedy.

Jack Benny

Early career

Benny grew up in Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois. He began studying the violin, an instrument that would become his trademark, when he was six. By fourteen he was playing in local dance bands, as well as in his high school orchestra, until he failed school and left for a career in vaudeville. In 1911, he was playing in the same theater as the young Marx Brothers, whose mother was so enchanted with Benny that she invited him to be their permanent accompanist. The plan was foiled by Benny's parents, who refused to let their son, then seventeen, go on the road, but it was the beginning of his long friendship with Zeppo Marx.

The following year, Benny formed a vaudeville musical duo with pianist Cora Salisbury. This provoked famous violinist Jan Kubelik, who thought that the young vaudeville entertainer with a similar name (Kubelsky) would damage his reputation. Finally, Bejamin Kubelsky agreed to change his name to Ben K. Benny (sometimes spelled Bennie). He also found a new pianist, Lyman Wood. He left show business briefly in 1917 to join the Navy during World War I, but even then, he often entertained the troops. One evening, he was booed by the troops, so he began telling Navy jokes on stage. He was a big hit, earning himself a reputation as a comedian as well as a musician.

After the war, Benny returned to vaudeville and changed his first name to Jack. He had several romantic encounters, including with a dancer, Mary Kelly, whose devoutly Catholic family forced her to turn down Benny's proposal because he was Jewish. In 1922, he accompanied Zeppo Marx to a Passover seder in Vancouver, where he met Sadie Marks, whom he eventually married in 1927. As Mary Livingstone, she was his collaborator throughout much of his career.

Radio

Benny had been only a minor vaudeville star, but he became an enormously successful national figure with The Jack Benny Program, a weekly radio show which ran from 1932 to 1955, and was consistantly among the most highly-rated programs during most of that run. Benny's program centered around a fictional version of himself: a successful comedian who was cheap, petty, and vain. The program introduced a stable of colorful characters who made Benny their foil. Staples on the show were Eddie Anderson, who played Benny's African-American valet, "Rochester Van Jones" (and who became nearly as popular as Benny himself); rotund announcer Don Wilson, the butt of endless "fat" jokes; Mary Livingstone, Benny's real-life wife, who played his wisecracking lady friend on the show; bandleader Phil Harris, whose tales of drinking and womanizing were risqúe for the time (although in reality, the band was led by Malohn Merrick); and tenor singer Dennis Day, who portrayed a naïve, sheltered young man. Other cast members included Frank Nelson and the remarkably versatile Mel Blanc, who provided several characters' voices, as well as the famous sound of Benny's aging auto, an early century Maxwell that always seemed on the verge of collapse.

The show featured sketch-like "situations" from the fictional Benny's life (Jack hosts a party, Jack and Mary go Christmas shopping, and so on), with Harris and Day providing musical interludes. The program, which had been broadcast from New York, moved to Los Angeles in 1936, and its new show-biz locale allowed for frequent guest appearances by Benny's celebrity colleagues, including Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby and many others. Orson Welles guest hosted several episodes when Benny was unavailable. Ronald Colman and his wife Benita appeared frequently in the 1940s as Benny's neighbors.

In the early days of radio, the airtime was owned by the sponsor, and Benny made a point of incorporating the commercials into the body of the show; the sponsors were often the butt of jokes. His sponsors included Canada Dry Ginger Ale from 1932 to 1933, Chevrolet from 1933 to 1934, General Tire in 1934, Jell-O from 1934 to 1942 (Benny is largely credited for making "Jello" a household name), Grape Nuts from 1942 to 1944, and Lucky Strike from 1944 to 1955.

Benny was notable for employing a small group of writers, most of whom stayed with him for many years. This was very much in contrast to other successful radio or television comedians, such as Bob Hope, who would change writers frequently. Historical accounts (like those by longtime Benny writer Milt Josephson) indicate that Benny's role that was essentially that of both head writer and director of his radio programs, though he was not credited in either capacity.

In 1937 Benny began his famous radio "feud" with rival comedian Fred Allen, who complained about the way Benny played violin. In fact, the two were close friends. A typical Benny and Allen episode, in this case on Fred's radio show, was a satire of "Queen for a Day" re-titled "King for a Day". In it, Allen plays host and eventually showers Benny with a ton of worthless prizes in honor of him being named King for a Day. The grand prize is a pants pressing from a local dry cleaning company. The hilarity builds as Jack's shirt is being taken off. Then, his pants are pulled off to the shock of the audience. The laughter was so loud and chaotic at the chain of events that Fred's announcer, Kenny Delmar, was cut off the air amidst the wild laughter while trying to read the credits—Fred's show had ran over-time yet again!

Benny was famous for his carefully timed pauses; one of the most famous laughs in radio came when he was accosted by a robber who demanded, "Your money or your life!" After an extended pause, the gunman reiterated the threat. Benny, ever the cheapskate, snapped, "I'm thinking it over!"

During his early radio show, Benny adopted a medley of "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Love in Bloom" as his theme song, opening every show. The song later became the theme of his television show as well.

Television

The Jack Benny Show ran on television from October 28, 1950 to 1965. The show appeared infrequently during its first two years on TV, then ran every fourth week for the next two years. From 1955 to 1960 it appeared every other week, and from 1960 to 1965 it was seen weekly. When Benny moved to television, audiences learned that his verbal talent was matched by his assortment of facial expressions and physical gestures. The program was similar to the radio show—many radio scripts were recycled for TV—with the addition of visual gags.

CBS dropped his show in 1964, and he went to NBC in the Fall, only to be out-rated by Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on CBS. NBC dropped his show at the end of the season, though he continued to make periodic TV specials into the 1970s.

Benny also acted in movies, including the Academy Award-winning The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and notably, Charley's Aunt (1941) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). The failure of one Benny vehicle, The Horn Blows at Midnight, became a running gag on his program.

Toward the end of his career, Benny returned to film, appearing in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in (1963). He also continued to perform live as a stand-up comedian. He was cast in the film version of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, but was forced to give up the role (ultimately played by Benny's close friend George Burns), when he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. He died in 1974. He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California.


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He was interred in the Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. Academy Awards and nominations are noted:. He died in 1974. It was later revealed that he died at UCLA Medical Center of lung failure. He was cast in the film version of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, but was forced to give up the role (ultimately played by Benny's close friend George Burns), when he was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. The cause of Brando's death was intentionally withheld, with his lawyer citing privacy concerns. He also continued to perform live as a stand-up comedian. On July 2, 2004, his lawyer confirmed that Marlon Brando had died the day before, July 1, at age 80.

Toward the end of his career, Benny returned to film, appearing in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World in (1963). On the other hand, most other actors found him generous, funny and supportive. The failure of one Benny vehicle, The Horn Blows at Midnight, became a running gag on his program. He also earned a reputation for being difficult on the set, often unwilling or unable to memorize his lines and less interested in taking direction than in confronting the film director with odd and childish demands. Benny also acted in movies, including the Academy Award-winning The Hollywood Revue of 1929 and notably, Charley's Aunt (1941) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). Brando's notoriety, his family's troubled lives, his self-exile from Hollywood, and his obesity, unfortunately attracted more attention than his late acting career. NBC dropped his show at the end of the season, though he continued to make periodic TV specials into the 1970s. She was only 25 years old.

CBS dropped his show in 1964, and he went to NBC in the Fall, only to be out-rated by Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on CBS. The tragedy was compounded in 1995, when Cheyenne, said to still be depressed over Drollet's death, committed suicide by hanging herself in Tahiti. The program was similar to the radio show—many radio scripts were recycled for TV—with the addition of visual gags. Afterward, Drollet's father said he thought Marlon Brando was acting and his son was "getting away with murder.". When Benny moved to television, audiences learned that his verbal talent was matched by his assortment of facial expressions and physical gestures. I'm prepared for the consequences.". From 1955 to 1960 it appeared every other week, and from 1960 to 1965 it was seen weekly. If I could trade places with Dag, I would.

The show appeared infrequently during its first two years on TV, then ran every fourth week for the next two years. .. The Jack Benny Show ran on television from October 28, 1950 to 1965. He commented softly to members of the Drollet family: "I'm sorry. The song later became the theme of his television show as well. Before the sentencing, Marlon Brando delivered an hour of rambling testimony in which he said he and his ex-wife had failed Christian. During his early radio show, Benny adopted a medley of "Yankee Doodle Boy" and "Love in Bloom" as his theme song, opening every show. He was sentenced to 10 years.

Benny, ever the cheapskate, snapped, "I'm thinking it over!". After a heavily publicized trial, Christian was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and use of a gun. Benny was famous for his carefully timed pauses; one of the most famous laughs in radio came when he was accosted by a robber who demanded, "Your money or your life!" After an extended pause, the gunman reiterated the threat. Christian, 31, claimed the shooting was accidental. The laughter was so loud and chaotic at the chain of events that Fred's announcer, Kenny Delmar, was cut off the air amidst the wild laughter while trying to read the credits—Fred's show had ran over-time yet again!. In May 1990, Brando's first son, Christian, shot and killed Dag Drollet, 26, the Tahitian lover of Christian's half-sister Cheyenne, at the family's hilltop home above Beverly Hills. Then, his pants are pulled off to the shock of the audience. The number of children he had is still in dispute, although he recognized 11 children in his will; they were:.

The hilarity builds as Jack's shirt is being taken off. All three wives were pregnant when he married them. The grand prize is a pants pressing from a local dry cleaning company. The hotel on Tetiaroa was eventually built, although it went through many redesigns due to changes demanded by Brando over the years, and is still in operation. In it, Allen plays host and eventually showers Benny with a ton of worthless prizes in honor of him being named King for a Day. Teriipia became the mother of two of his children. A typical Benny and Allen episode, in this case on Fred's radio show, was a satire of "Queen for a Day" re-titled "King for a Day". Tahitian beauty Tarita Teriipia, who had appeared in the film as Fletcher Christian's love interest, became his third wife after he and Castaneda were divorced.

In fact, the two were close friends. He took a 99-year lease on part of an atoll island, Tetiaroa, which he intended to make part-environmental laboratory and part-resort. In 1937 Benny began his famous radio "feud" with rival comedian Fred Allen, who complained about the way Benny played violin. The "Bounty" experience affected Brando's life in a profound way: he fell in love with Tahiti and its people. Historical accounts (like those by longtime Benny writer Milt Josephson) indicate that Benny's role that was essentially that of both head writer and director of his radio programs, though he was not credited in either capacity. He was blamed for a change in directors and a runaway budget though he disclaimed responsibility for either. This was very much in contrast to other successful radio or television comedians, such as Bob Hope, who would change writers frequently. A remake of Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962, with Brando as Fletcher Christian, seemed to bolster his reputation as a difficult star.

Benny was notable for employing a small group of writers, most of whom stayed with him for many years. In 1960 he married a Mexican actress, Maria "Movita" Castaneda, at least 16 years his senior, who had appeared in the first Mutiny on the Bounty in 1935, some 27 years before Brando's own version was released. His sponsors included Canada Dry Ginger Ale from 1932 to 1933, Chevrolet from 1933 to 1934, General Tire in 1934, Jell-O from 1934 to 1942 (Benny is largely credited for making "Jello" a household name), Grape Nuts from 1942 to 1944, and Lucky Strike from 1944 to 1955. She was revealed to be Welsh, and they separated a year later. In the early days of radio, the airtime was owned by the sponsor, and Benny made a point of incorporating the commercials into the body of the show; the sponsors were often the butt of jokes. He married actress Anna Kashfi in 1957, believing her to be East Indian. Ronald Colman and his wife Benita appeared frequently in the 1940s as Benny's neighbors. So did his romances and marriages.

Orson Welles guest hosted several episodes when Benny was unavailable. Brando's crusades for civil rights, the American Indian and other causes kept him in the public eye throughout his career. The program, which had been broadcast from New York, moved to Los Angeles in 1936, and its new show-biz locale allowed for frequent guest appearances by Benny's celebrity colleagues, including Frank Sinatra, James Stewart, Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby and many others. Despite announcing plans to retire—which he made good on for most of the 1980s—he subsequently gave interesting supporting performances in movies such as A Dry White Season (for which he was again nominated for an Oscar in 1989), The Freshman in 1990 and Don Juan DeMarco in 1995. The show featured sketch-like "situations" from the fictional Benny's life (Jack hosts a party, Jack and Mary go Christmas shopping, and so on), with Harris and Day providing musical interludes. Moreau", earned him some of his most uncomplimentary reviews of his career. Other cast members included Frank Nelson and the remarkably versatile Mel Blanc, who provided several characters' voices, as well as the famous sound of Benny's aging auto, an early century Maxwell that always seemed on the verge of collapse. Other later performances, such as "The Island of Dr.

Staples on the show were Eddie Anderson, who played Benny's African-American valet, "Rochester Van Jones" (and who became nearly as popular as Benny himself); rotund announcer Don Wilson, the butt of endless "fat" jokes; Mary Livingstone, Benny's real-life wife, who played his wisecracking lady friend on the show; bandleader Phil Harris, whose tales of drinking and womanizing were risqúe for the time (although in reality, the band was led by Malohn Merrick); and tenor singer Dennis Day, who portrayed a naïve, sheltered young man. His career afterwards was uneven: in addition to his iconic performance as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now and his intensely personal performance in Last Tango in Paris, Brando has also played Jor-El, Superman's father, in the first Superman movie—a role he agreed to only on condition that he did not have to read the script beforehand and his lines would be displayed somewhere offscreen. The program introduced a stable of colorful characters who made Benny their foil. Despite the controversy, Brando was again nominated for an award. Benny's program centered around a fictional version of himself: a successful comedian who was cheap, petty, and vain. The actor followed with one of his greatest performances in Last Tango in Paris, but it was overshadowed by an uproar over the erotic nature of the Bernardo Bertolucci film. Benny had been only a minor vaudeville star, but he became an enormously successful national figure with The Jack Benny Program, a weekly radio show which ran from 1932 to 1955, and was consistantly among the most highly-rated programs during most of that run. She was booed as she denounced Hollywood's portrayal of her people.

As Mary Livingstone, she was his collaborator throughout much of his career. Scott for Patton.) Brando boycotted the award ceremony, sending Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather (nee Maria Cruz) to state his objections. In 1922, he accompanied Zeppo Marx to a Passover seder in Vancouver, where he met Sadie Marks, whom he eventually married in 1927. Brando turned down the Academy Award, the second actor to refuse an Oscar (the first being George C. He had several romantic encounters, including with a dancer, Mary Kelly, whose devoutly Catholic family forced her to turn down Benny's proposal because he was Jewish. Brando was voted the Academy Award for Best Actor for his intelligent performance; once again, he improvised important details that lent more humanity to what could otherwise have been a clichéd role. After the war, Benny returned to vaudeville and changed his first name to Jack. Francis Ford Coppola was electrified by Brando's characterization as the head of a crime family, but had to fight the studio in order to cast him.

He was a big hit, earning himself a reputation as a comedian as well as a musician. Brando once again had to beg for a part, forcing a screen test in which he did his own makeup. One evening, he was booed by the troops, so he began telling Navy jokes on stage. His performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather in 1973 changed this. He left show business briefly in 1917 to join the Navy during World War I, but even then, he often entertained the troops. Nonetheless, his career had gone into almost complete eclipse by the end of the decade thanks to his reputation as a difficult star and his record in overbudget or marginal movies. He also found a new pianist, Lyman Wood. Though even at this professional low point, Brando still managed to produce a few exceptional films; such as One-Eyed Jacks, a western that would be the only film Brando would ever direct.

Benny (sometimes spelled Bennie). Brando's star sank even further in the 1960s as he turned in increasingly uninspired performances in Mutiny on the Bounty and several other forgettable films. Finally, Bejamin Kubelsky agreed to change his name to Ben K. Army in postwar Japan in The Teahouse of the August Moon; as an Air Force officer in Sayonara, and a Nazi officer in The Young Lions. While he won an Oscar nomination for his acting in Sayonara, his acting had lost much of its energy and direction by the end of the 1950s. This provoked famous violinist Jan Kubelik, who thought that the young vaudeville entertainer with a similar name (Kubelsky) would damage his reputation. Brando followed that triumph by a variety of roles in the 1950s that defied expectations: as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls, where he managed to carry off a singing role; as Sakini, a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. The following year, Benny formed a vaudeville musical duo with pianist Cora Salisbury. He improvised much of his dialogue with Rod Steiger in the famous, much-quoted scene with him in the back of a taxicab.

The plan was foiled by Benny's parents, who refused to let their son, then seventeen, go on the road, but it was the beginning of his long friendship with Zeppo Marx. Under Kazan's direction, and with a talented ensemble around him, Brando used his method training and improvisational skills to produce a performance that continues to display new facets on each viewing. In 1911, he was playing in the same theater as the young Marx Brothers, whose mother was so enchanted with Benny that she invited him to be their permanent accompanist. Brando finally won the Oscar for his role of Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront. By fourteen he was playing in local dance bands, as well as in his high school orchestra, until he failed school and left for a career in vaudeville. He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for that role, and again in each of the next three years for his roles in Viva Zapata! in 1952, Julius Caesar in 1953 and On the Waterfront in 1954. He began studying the violin, an instrument that would become his trademark, when he was six. He made a much larger impression the following year when he brought his performance as Stanley Kowalski to the screen in Kazan's adaptation of "Streetcar" in 1951.

Benny grew up in Chicago and Waukegan, Illinois. True to his method, Brando spent a month in bed at a veterans' hospital to prepare for the role. Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky, February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) was a comedian, vaudeville performer, film actor, and one of the most prominent early stars of American radio and television. Often cited for his impeccable comic timing, Benny was an influential comedy innovator, a major architect of the modern forms of standup comedy and situation comedy. Brando's first screen role was the bitter crippled veteran in The Men in 1950. Williams recalled that he opened the screen door and knew, instantly, that he had his Stanley Kowalski. Brando sought out that role, driving out to Provincetown, Massachusetts where Williams was spending the summer to audition for the part.

He achieved real stardom, however, as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire in 1947, directed by Elia Kazan. Critics voted him "Broadway's Most Promising Actor" for his role as an anguished, paraplegic veteran in Truckline Cafe, although the play was a commercial failure. He was expelled from his acting school in Sayville but was discovered in another play there and then made it to Broadway in the bittersweet drama, I Remember Mama, in 1944. Brando used his method acting skills in summer-stock roles in Sayville, New York.

Brando left Illinois for New York City, where he studied at the American Theatre Wing Professional School, New School, and the Actors' Studio. His father was largely critical of his son, but encouraged him to seek his own direction. Brando had a tumultuous childhood, in which he was expelled from several schools. Brando was a gifted mimic from early childhood and developed a rare ability to absorb the tics and mannerisms of people he played and to display those traits dramatically while staying in character.

His mother, a kind and talented woman with a drinking problem, was involved in local theater, and this first interested him in stage acting. He was of Dutch, French, English and Irish stock; the original family name was Brandeau. In 1937 his parents reconciled, and the family moved to Libertyville, Illinois, north of Chicago. In 1935 his parents separated, and his mother moved with her three children to Santa Ana, California.

Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His acting style, combined with his public persona as an outsider uninterested in the Hollywood of the early 1950s, had a profound effect on a generation of actors, including James Dean and Paul Newman, and later stars, including Robert De Niro. Marlon Brando (April 3, 1924 - July 1, 2004) was an American actor who brought the techniques of method acting to prominence in the films A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, both directed by Elia Kazan in the early 1950s. Big Bug Man (2006).

The Score (2001). Moreau (1996). The Island of Dr. Don Juan DeMarco (1995).

Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992). The Freshman (1990). A Dry White Season (1989) - Nominated: Best Supporting Actor. The Formula (1980).

Apocalypse Now (1979). Roots: The Next Generations (1979) - TV mini-series; won Emmy Award. Superman (1978). The Missouri Breaks (1976).

Last Tango in Paris (1972) - Nominated: Best Actor. The Godfather (1972) - Winner: Best Actor (declined; accepted privately in later years). Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967). A Countess from Hong Kong (1967).

The Chase (1966). Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). One-Eyed Jacks (1961). The Young Lions (1958).

Sayonara (1957) - Nominated: Best Actor. The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956). Guys and Dolls (1955). Desirée (1954).

On the Waterfront (1954) - Winner: Best Actor. Kurtz in Coppola's Apocalypse Now was arguably his last great role. . The Wild One (1954) Brando's role as Col. Julius Caesar (1953) - Nominated: Best Actor.

Viva Zapata! (1952) - Nominated: Best Actor. A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) - Nominated: Best Actor. The Men (1950). Timothy (10).

Myles (12). Nina Priscilla (15). by his maid Christina Maria Ruiz:

    . Raiatua (23).

    Maimiti (28). mother not publicly known:

      . Petra Brando-Corval (32), daughter of Brando's assistant Caroline Barrett. by adoption:
        .

        Cheyenne (died 1995 at the age of 25). Rebecca Brando Kotlinzky (38). Simon Teihotu (41). by his marriage to Tarita Teriipia:

          .

          Miko (43). by his marriage to actress Movita Castaneda:

            . Christian (46). by his marriage to actress Anna Kashfi:
              .

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