The Jack Benny Program (1950–1965)

TV Series  -   -  Comedy
8.3
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The comic misadventures of the skinflint comedian and his friends.

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15   14   13   12   11   10   9   8   7   … See all »
1965   1964   1963   1962   … See all »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 7 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete series cast summary:
...
 Jack Benny / ... (256 episodes, 1950-1965)
Don Wilson ...
 Don Wilson / ... (239 episodes, 1950-1965)
...
 Rochester Van Jones / ... (176 episodes, 1950-1965)
Dennis Day ...
 Dennis Day / ... (143 episodes, 1950-1965)
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Storyline

Jack Benny was a regular on his own radio program since 1932. He brought the program, with his underplayed humor, to TV along with his radio regulars. Jack, who remained 39-years-old, kept his money in his basement and drove his old Maxwell car just as he had done on the radio. Written by J.E. McKillop <jmckillo@notes.cc.bellcore.com>

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Comedy

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Release Date:

28 October 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Jack Benny Show  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the early years this was originally titled "The Lucky Strike Program" after the show's sponsor, Lucky Strike cigarettes, which had also sponsored Jack Benny's radio program. The 16mm television syndication prints had the title cards replaced with ones that gave the title as either "The Jack Benny Program" or "The Jack Benny Show". Footage of Benny welcoming the audience to "The Lucky Strike Program" remained intact. See more »

Quotes

[At Liberace's House]
Liberace: What do we have for dinner?
Cook: We have some breast of flamingo and gazelle steaks.
Jack: Breast of flamingo and gazelle steaks?
Liberace: Would you like to stay for dinner, Jack?
Jack: Well, only if you have enough. I'd hate for you to run out to the zoo just for me.
See more »

Connections

Spoofed in The Hollywood Palace: Episode #2.16 (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Love In Bloom
(theme song)
by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
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User Reviews

 
Narcissistic, Miserly and Self-Centered '3rd Rate Violinist' created by Kindly, Decent and Humble man, known for his Generousity & a habit to literally Fall Down Laughing!
20 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Jack Benny brought his long standing and carefully developed world to television following a long and highly successful run on the Radio Networks. Between 1932 and 1955, Benny & Company campaigned in the Laugh Wars under various banners such as 'The Grape Nuts Show', 'The Canada Dry Show', 'The Jello Show' and The Lucky Strike Program'. These were indeed the days of very strong sponsor identification; and indeed the various commercial establishments did indeed "own" the various air-time slots that carried whatever program that pleased the company suits. It was a prime example of Capitali$m or Free Enterpri$e, if you will, flexing its 'evil' muscle, throwing a collective tantrum and having its own way with the Airwaves and the American Peoples.*

Mr. Benny and his troupe of repertory supporting players spent that 1932-55 Radio Period bouncing back and forth between the NBC and CBS Networks. His regulars included Announcer Don Wilson, Band Leader Phil Harris, Singer Dennis Day, Girlfriend Mary Livingstone (the real life Mrs. Benny), Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, multi-voiced talent Mel Blanc, "Yessssssss Man" Frank Nelson, Dialectician Supreme Benny Rubin and others. They all had been assembled one by one as they appeared on the show only to become regulars or recurring players portraying any one of many various characters as called for by the stories.

Once on TV the various sponsor named shows' titles were jettisoned for good. From then on it was THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM (1950-65, CBS until '64, the last season of 1964-65 on NBC). After that, Jack and the gang did a number of hour long specials on NBC, such as the aptly titled "Jack Benny's 40th Birthday" (1969). One very important part of the Jack Benny comedic persona and central to his supposedly being given to major bouts of vanity is his ever claiming to be 39 years old.

Although we always think of Jack as having a fine comedy-variety show in the same tradition as Sid Caesar, Jackie Gleason, Bob Hope, Red Skelton, Danny Kay, Carol Burnet and even Tom & Dick Smothers; it was that and something else too. Jack's show was highly complex and hence was not all so easily classified. Read on, Schultz!

In a typical season of THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM featured two different sorts of half hours. The first was In Studio, On Stage, with a Studio Audience and done at first truly "Live" then later (after 1958) via the wonders of Video Tape. As far as we can tell, Jack did maybe a half-dozen of these per season; yet they are the ones that have made the most lasting affect to our collective memory.

The second type was filmed episodes that went far beyond the stage; often getting us glimpses of what Jack's life was in the "real" world. These often began at the Stage during a fictional presentation of the Show; but followed the action after the "Show's" conclusion; or began at Jack's home and followed the storyline in such subjects as "The Beverly Hills Beavers" (Jack's kids' club.) or the Jack Benny Fan Club, which was composed of Females who were as enthusiastic as any of Elvis' followers; albeit not as youthful.

But there was one thing that all of Jack's shows had and that is plenty of laughs. Jack was obviously very unselfish and not at all a vain man as his miserly character; his famous cheapness being another comical invention. Mr. Benny didn't care who got the laughs as long as there were laughs. He very often made himself the object of the joke; and in doing so, established all of his regulars as first rate comedians in their own right.

And any installment of THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM was masterfully constructed. The slow, deliberate pacing was an outgrowth of the Great Comedian's own Stage Personality. The jokes in the monologue always fit him like a well tailored suit. The gags were always slowly and meticulously developed and milked for all they were worth. And, most usually, a gag introduced early in the proceedings would be referred to once again later; often time being the shows ultimate "punch line."

All of this seemingly simple formula did was to make Jack Benny a household word for two separate and distinct generational types. The first being on the Radio with the children of The Great Depression-World War II Generation and of their kids in the Post War Baby Boomer period via the magic of Television. **

NOTE: * C'mon, Schultz, I was just funnin' ya! Whatever our complaints about the price of this or the cost of that, our way sure beats any Socialist way of having the State owned Television deciding what we're to view and hence think. Can you say "PBS" or "NPR"?

NOTE ** We haven't even mentioned Jack's Film career. And just remember, NONE of his movies were as bad as he always makes us believe that THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT (Warner Brothers, 1945) was. It was just another example of the now famous Jack Benny self deprecation.

POODLE SCHNITZ!!


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