The Jack Benny Program (TV Series 1950–1965) Poster


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A woven, recurring blend of comfortable, reassuring humor
jeffhill124 March 2002
In the early 1960's TV Guide critic Cleveland Amory started his review of "The Jack Benny Program" with "There are two kinds of jokes. Regular jokes and Jack Benny jokes." Regular jokes hit you, if you are lucky, only once. Jack Benny jokes hit you, if you are lucky, over and over. What Cleveland Amory at the time was referring to was the way a joke that popped up in the beginning of any given Jack Benny program episode was not an end in itself but a set-up for two, three, or four jokes that would emerge throughout he show.

Some time before I was born, Jack Benny started to use, but never milked, familiar masks: his awful violin playing, his stingy nature, his offense at being insulted by his patented pause followed with, "Well!", his insistence that he was thirty nine years old, and his recurring attempts to get a renowned musician to play his pitiful song, "When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano".

"Hello, Police Department? I want to report a lost wallet. It is brown leather. Inside there are three one dollar bills. And the serial numbers are......" Inside a sauna: "Gee. I haven't sweated this much since they closed the banks in 1934."

As Jack Benny delighted in telling later in life, sometimes the stories behind the jokes were even more funny than the jokes themselves. Jack would work with the writers in mid-week before any given show. As Jack told it, one week one of the writers thought up the scenario, "Jack is walking down the street and a thug comes up to him with a pistol and demands, 'Your money or your life!'" All readily agreed that that was a good premise for a joke. "But how is Jack going to respond?" All in the room were puzzled and when one writer got impatient by calling out, "Well?", Jack, still stumped for a good punch line, snapped back, "I'm thinking it over!" When the other writers started laughing, Jack asked, "What's so funny?" It took Jack Benny a few moments to get it that he had just invented the best joke of his career.

That Jack will forever be remembered as being forever thirty nine years old is now not a joke but an inspiration for us his fans and survivors to hold on to youth and humor for as long as he did.
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Character Comedy
bkoganbing3 April 2009
Jack Benny was unique among the great comedians this country has produced. Only his comedy was not the product of gags or situations, though he used them. His comedy arose out of an indelible character he created, the lovable tightwad who came into our homes via radio and television for over 30 years.

In real life Jack Benny was not a tightwad, in fact he was a generous man whose charitable giving was known if not publicized. That of course would have ruined the image and the image was the linchpin of his comedy.

Because we knew his character so well, the cheap gags followed. They would mean nothing to anyone else, but because it was Benny we laughed at a burglar saying your money or your life and Benny stalling with a reply of I'm thinking. The sounds of his Maxwell car were second nature, they brought laughs because Benny was too cheap to buy a new car. And his Social Security number, 000-00-0001 in deference to his age.

The Jack Benny Show took us inside the pretend world of tightwad Jack Benny. His announcer Don Wilson, real life wife Mary Livingston, butler Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, and the perpetual adolescent with the piping tenor Dennis Day all were part of that world. On radio Phil Harris as the brash band-leader was there, but he didn't make it to television, deciding to strike out on his own. All of these people bounced gags off Benny's tightwad character and all got generous laughs at his expense. But the laughs were coming for Benny's character, not necessarily out of anything he said necessarily.

Some his shows were classics and allowed people to really enjoy themselves. One of my favorites had Raymond Burr as a guest star who did courtroom sketch and broke into a song and dance before the jury. Burr looked like he was having a great time. Another show I remember had long time show business friends Bing Crosby and George Burns as guests, reminiscing about back in the days when the three of them were a vaudeville trio act.

His shows were welcome in millions of American homes including mine. Would that another Jack Benny would come on the scene today.
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The Jack Benny Program
rcj53654 February 2005
This was one of the great comedy shows of all time and one of the TV's Golden age of programs that begin in the early 1950's and continued onward into the mid-1960's. Jack Benny had been a regular network-radio personality since 1932. When he made his first tentative forays into television in 1950,it was mainly a series of specials that aired on a infrequent basis in what would eventually become his regular Sunday night-time slot(that ran from October of 1950,and ending in June of 1962). Ten of them aired during the 1950-1951 season and 1951-1952 seasons. From October 5, 1952,through the following January his show was televised once every four weeks,and when he returned again,on September 13,1953,it was an alternate-week basis that lasted through June of 1960. For his last five seasons,"The Jack Benny Show" aired every week. It was shown on two major television networks. First it ran on CBS-TV from October 28,1950 through September of 1964. Then the show switched networks,this time over to NBC-TV from September of 1964 through September of 1965,which lasted one season.

It amazingly ran for an impressive fifteen seasons on prime-time television. 1950-1965.

The format of the show,and the personality of its star,so well honed in two decades on radio,made the transition television almost intact. Jack's stinginess,vanity about his supposed age of 39,basement vault where he kept all his money,ancient Maxwell automobile,and feigned ineptness at playing the violin were all part of the act-and were,if anything,bolstered by their visibility on the TV show. Added to Jack's famous pregnant pause and exasperated "Well!" were a rather mincing walk,an affected hand to the cheek and a pained look of disbelief when confronted by life's little tragedies. The show also made some headway into the relationship between employer and employee and "The Jack Benny Program" was the only show on television where you could see individuals of different races and backgrounds working with each other. The two regulars that were with Jack throughout his television run were Eddie "Rochester" Anderson,as his valet and Don Wilson as his announcer and friend. Appearing on a more irregular basis were Dennis Day,Artie Auerbach,Frank Nelson,Mary Livingstone(Mrs. Jack Benny),and Mel Blanc,all veterans from the radio show. Blanc,the master of a thousand voices for several cartoon characters(including Bugs Bunny as well the voice of Barney Rubble on "The Flintstones",and Mr. Spacey on "The Jetsons"),was both heard as the engine of Jack's Maxwell and seen as Professor LeBlanc,his long-suffering violin teacher.

Jack's underplayed comedy was as popular on television as it has been on the radio. After fifteen years as more or less regular television performer,he cut back his schedule to an occasional special and continued to appear until his untimely death in 1974. But it wasn't until 12 years after "The Jack Benny Program" went off the air,CBS brought back several episodes of "The Jack Benny Show",originally filmed in the early 1960's,for a limited run in August of 1977. CBS had also aired repeats of this series on weekday afternoons from October of 1964 to September of 1965 as "The Jack Benny Daytime Show",and on Sunday afternoons from October of 1964 to March of 1965 as "Sunday with Jack Benny"
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bring it back!
dtucker8617 October 2002
I loved The Jack Benny Show. I am so shocked that there were only two comments in your index about it. Yes some of the episodes are almost fifty years old and probably will never see the light of day again, but look at the dreck on tv right now. This show would be just as good as ever. Jack was such a wonderful comic because he always took it so seriously. He didn't even realize how funny he was I don't think. George Burns once said Jack was funniest when he wasn't saying anything. I loved everything about the show and would love to see it again.
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Jack Benny a Comic Genius!
Kalaman8 November 2003
I have to disagree with the other user who said Jack Benny blew. What? Benny is a comic genius and one of the funniest comedians ever. I saw his classic TV show, "The Jack Benny Program", last night and I must admit I loved it, it is very, very funny. Keep in mind this is early 50s TV variety show and yet it is still hilarious. Jack brings back his radio performers to perform his comic acts and sketches. It was awesome! I will be watching it again.
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Jack Benny visits Walt Disney
sandiego-417 January 2001
I just finished watching an hour-long JACK BENNY SHOW from 1965 with perhaps the best guests ever assembled: Bob Hope, Elke Sommer, The Beach Boys (introducing some now very classic songs), and Walt Disney! The first skit was a parody of popular shows of that era (The Munsters, The Addams Family, Bewitched, My Mother the Car, The Fugitive, and Peyton Place), but the best skit was an Italian film style version of Mary Poppins with Elke Sommer in the title role, Bob Hope as a chauffeur, and Jack Benny as the father. There is also a great skit with Benny visiting Disney's office asking for free tickets to Disneyland for 110 guests. Lots of music from the Beach Boys and Elke Sommer (who manages to steal every scene, even up against Hope and Benny!). If you find this at an on-line auction somewhere (that's how I found it) it is well worth the investment. A classic the entire family will love.
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Behind the Scenes
pkarnold29 June 2009
Jack Benny is my most missed comic from the 60s. Yes, Bob Hope and Johnny Carson were hilarious and well worth watching. I enjoyed Dean Martin and George Gobel. But of all the comedians of early television, Jack Benny's timing was unbelievable. I don't think any modern comedian can match his subtlety or his timing.

And while Jack Benny could deadpan a gag, usually he was on the receiving end of it, a few shows could give you insight into how much he enjoyed comedy, his show, and perhaps comedy in general.

I saw a you-tube film of him on the Carson show, with Mel Blanc and the "Si gag." And the very thought of Mel Blanc doing an English Horse whinny, or "Si" just cracked him up.

I also saw a video of Foster Brooks roasting Jack Benny, and Benny couldn't help but laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. And if you see the show where Groucho Marx is doing a "Say the Magic Word" skit or was it really on the Who Do You Trust set, it is just hilarious to see what lengths Benny would go to to win that $100 prize.

Another insight was from What's My Line, the game show where the celebrity panel was blindfolded and Benny signed in as Heifitz. He couldn't help but play a gag or two on the host and the panel, admittedly while answering in a falsetto "uh, huh" or "uh, uh." The crowd roared when he entered on the show, and roared at every single comedy gag he came up with.

So while I lament that the Jack Benny show is no longer on the Comedy Channel, any time you can get a hold of an episode of the Jack Benny Show, please do so because this man was truly a master at work. And the main reason was because the guy was genuinely funny, understood comedy, and was as happy to be the butt of a joke as to deliver a punchline.
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Benny's radio shows remain great entertainment.
bill-6881 August 2008
Jack Benny's radio shows remain among the very best that Old Time Radio has to offer. Hundreds of hours of this programming are available from any one of several dealers around the country. Most of them sound as they were being broadcast at that moment! Listening to the shows as they were presented week-in and week-out, one gets to know the players while developing a real appreciation for the lines, delivery and timing. In particular, the World War II shows are among my favorites; broadcast from various military bases and always with the best talent of the day. Sadly, it appears that present-generation America doesn't remember Jack Benny or the little group that every week helped him become one of America's all-time great showmen.
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"Your money or your life!" (LONG PAUSE) "I'm thinking!"
gazzo-23 November 1999
He was one of a kind; a great performer, and you can also enjoy all the routines-the 'lousy' fiddle playing, his huge vault in the cellar, etc. The surrounding cast-Rochester Anderson, Frank Nelson(Yessss?!!!) and Mel Blanc were screams. Definately worth your time if you get a look-see on TV somewheres along the line....
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An Appreciation
dougdoepke2 November 2010
I think one reason Benny is so beloved by fans is that he comes across as a genuinely likable guy beneath all the funnyman routines. Unlike many comedians, there's nothing of the "smart Alec" or "wise guy" about him. Not that these are disqualifying traits—Bob Hope, for one, made an immensely successful career as a wise guy. But the thing with Benny is that no matter how vain or cheap he appeared in his stage act, there was always an air of underlying likability. So when he tipped the sweating waiter a nickel or preened as the world's best comedian, fans laughed and forgave him.

Consider that his show lasted an amazing 15 years on a medium with a reputation for devouring funnymen. Much of that success is due to a cast of well-honed regulars that the writers skillfully blended into the program whether live or on film. Basically, we knew what to expect from each—a wise-cracking Rochester, a jovial Don Wilson, a sensible Mary Livingstone, a dazed Dennis Day, and, of course, Jack's two perennial nemeses Mel Blanc and Frank Nelson. The latter two furnished many of the petty annoyances that were the basis of much of Jack's comedic schtick. Speaking of style, it also looks like Jack was mainly a "reactive" comedian— that is, his humor grew out of exasperated, low-key reactions to life's many petty annoyances, which were also ones the audience could relate to.

My favorite routines were the spoofs of popular movies, like Gaslight or Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It was the latter, I believe, where dressed up as the fearsome Hyde, Benny attacks this feeble old lady who, nevertheless, proceeds to flip him in six different directions before he slinks away, a totally defeated Hyde. I don't know how they did it, but the contrasting appearances and unexpected outcome were hilarious.

I doubt the show would succeed with today's hyper-energized audiences, where much of the humor is more obvious and more over-the-top. Jack's era was, of course, a period of tight restrictions on what could be said or shown. But his show under-played that tight framework like a virtuoso, week-in and week-out. I guess these few words amount to my little appreciation of a program that gave me so many pleasurable moments. So, the time spent trying to think this out is time well spent. Thanks, Mr. Benny. In my book, you are an enduring classic.
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the template for transposition from vaudeville to TV
A_Different_Drummer23 October 2013
Shocking as this may sound there was a time when TV was a brand new medium and the producers, mainly interested in selling soap and cigarettes (literally) did not know what to do with it. So they tried to re-cycle tried and true formulas for entertainment, which meant grabbing anything still twitching from vaudeville (and post-vaudeville, which included radio and the musical movies) putting it in front of camera and sound-stage, and then watching to see if the audience went for it. More often than not they did, and sometimes it worked so well that the audience got addicted (this show, the Gleason show, the Sullivan show). These were experiences today's generation will never know, especially since, with 500 channels, no one is really re-broadcasting these classics. The Benny show is as a good as it gets, better even than Burns, which is saying something. Jack Benny was not merely an actor, he was an entertainment machine, and each show plays to this. Astonishing example of the lost art of star-based comedy. With hindsight, each show was based on nothing -- which was precisely the formula that Seinfeld used a half-century later to entrance audiences all over again
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The king of comic timing in a show that is timeless
calvinnme10 April 2011
The Jack Benny Program was a variety show in which Jack played a lovable cheapskate version of himself in one or two comedy skits per show and he also might have a musical guest that would make a solo performance - I remember in particular Peter, Paul, and Mary appearing. In the early days of the show Jack's wife Mary would play his girlfriend, and one of the funniest shows is where Jack dreams of life if he married Mary. In that particular show Jack's daughter appeared also playing herself. Later though Mary succumbed to terrible stage fright and therefore no longer appeared on the show. Just about every star of the 50's and 60's showed up on Jack's show, and as was common during the early days of TV, the commercials were often embedded into the show itself. There was usually just a single sponsor, and in the case of the Jack Benny Program the first ten years of the show were sponsored by Lucky Strike cigarettes. I remember watching reruns during the 70's and thinking how ironic it was to see Humphrey Bogart plugging cigarettes during an episode in which he appears just a few years before the same product takes his life.

Especially fun are the guest appearances by Mel Blanc and Bob Hope - Benny just can't resist breaking up during their routines. Then there was an episode entitled "Jam Session" in which a number of stars including Kirk Douglas, Fred MacMurray, Dan Dailey, and Dick Powell join Jack in his living room for an impromptu musical session. The group, in need of refreshment, find a number of vending machines placed throughout the room to dispense cold apples and soft drinks at a price, of course. They've obviously been to Jack's house before.

There is also a running gag through the shows about the failure of Jacks's 1940's film "The Horn Blows at Midnight". I don't know if it failed in the 40's, but if you ever get a chance to catch it on TV, give it a try - it really is pretty good, just not what you're probably expecting from a Jack Benny performance.

As for the controversy over Rochester, I'd say his role in TV was groundbreaking. Benny treats Rochester more as a member of the family than a servant, and several times Rochester's ingenuity and wisdom save Benny from himself. More importantly, Rochester's ingenuity saves himself from Benny's cheapskate ways more than once, and when that's not possible at least Rochester gets off a wisecrack at Benny's expense. It's not at all the painful portrayal of racial stereotypes you see in some of the films of the 1940's and before.

This show is currently widely available on public domain DVD packages, but there is no restored complete release. That's a shame because if poor quality reality TV shows rate a DVD release, classic comedy like this should find a sponsor somewhere. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to see the king of comic timing at his best, a classy guy who didn't mind who got the laughs as long as people were laughing - Jack Benny.
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My father and Jack Benny are forever united in my mind.
TxMike14 December 2004
Jack Benny is an American entertainment icon. Born in 1894, he had a very long career in radio, TV, live performances, and the movies. In his 1950s and 1960s TV show that we used to watch, he always had his violin. Benny was quite an accomplished violinist, but as part of his comedy act he usually played it like a beginner might. My dad loved Jack Benny. My dad also played a violin.

Benny always played a borderline sad sack, when something in a skit didn't go his way, he might stand and look directly at the audience, with a frown, playing for sympathy. But Benny needed none, he was one of the "in crowd" with Bing Crosby, George Burns, and all the other entertainment giants of the first half of the 20th century.

I also had the pleasure of seeing Jack Benny live, in 1968, when he performed on my college campus. Even though he was in his 70s by that time, he was still the same old Jack Benny. His musical guest for that performance was Lainie Kazan, a singer I had never heard of, but she was marvelous. We were so impressed, we bought several of her LP music albums, and she inspired us to name our first daughter 'Lainie'. Although she has not been a working singer for years, Kazan still is a popular actress, often in the role of a big Jewish or Italian NYC mother.
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Who owns the TV shows?
dantiger0210 September 2004
To me "The Jack Benny Show" was a classic and the man himself a genius. He

was the absolute king of timing. He would always start a skit so optimistic and calm.. Then little by little his innocent world would begin to unravel. Lines that were not really funny became classic such as "Oh Rochester, oh Rochester?

His dates with Mary were a favorite of mine. He was so well intentioned and

seemed to always loose control of the situation. I am so sad that great shows like this are not there for my son and

grandchildren. I can not imagine growing up without "Laurel and Hardy" or "The Little Rascles." Who owns these shows and how dare they not make them

available to a world that so badly needs laughter?
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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!
John T. Ryan20 April 2008
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.

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The Jack Benny Program : The original "Seinfeld"
happipuppi1320 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
If you think that Jerry Seinfeld was the first man ever to play a comedic,alter-ego version of himself on'd be wrong of course.

That slice of genius was originally served up to us by Mr. Jack Benny and cast. Not just on TV from 1950 to 1965 but on his radio show that ran for over 20 years,starting in 1932.

I noticed there had not been a review here since 2013,so I thought a new perspective was needed. I know most here are happy to see that Mr. Benny's show is on ME-TV and has been restored to almost a near perfection.

ME-TV is the kind of home this show deserves,a network that truly cares about classic television. This,coming after years of cable TV hogging our favorite programs to themselves. (An inconvenience to those of us who don't wish to have cable/satellite etc.)

But....Along with the re-runs,I also watched a few on a low-budget DVD set that had 4 discs w/ about 11 shows each. (Some are not this program but are a newsreel,a short subject & an episode of Bing Crosby's Show. If you come across this set,be forewarned,the films are straight off VHS tape and are of poor quality.

One thing's true here,the quality certainly didn't take away from the comedy. Jack,as we know,presents himself comically as a penny pincher,an egotist and a very demanding boss (to the point of almost being unreasonable.)

Of course,everyone's in on the joke and Rochester,Mary,Dennis Day and Don Wilson & guests play it to the hilt. Especially pot-shots taken at Jack's expense. You think you're tuning in to a typical variety show but it's only the first step into the comedy Twilight Zone of Jack Benny's fictional world.

Which for the 1950s,is something one could almost call "radical" & "unconventional". There's literally times when it seems all are trying to see how far they can push the envelope in the face of 1950s censors. The funniest 3 of all I've seen are :

#1. Jack's Maxwell Is Stolen - A crazy look into the Beverly Hills Police Dept. #2. Jack & Bob Hope in a manic "In the jungle & captured by cannibals" sketch. (With the 2 breaking up on live TV,through almost every moment of it. #3. Jack can't sleep and decides to play the violin in the middle of the night,waking up most of Beverly Hills & southern California to boot.

One thing that's also great is that yes,Rochester is Jack's butler but he's also his friend. While not stated out loud,it came through loud and clear to me in the 1961 New Year's Eve episode where (*Spoiler*) in the end,Rochester ends up staying home with him,so he wont be alone at midnight.

Given the racial feelings at the time,it's great to see Rochester living so freely,as if there's no such thing as racism. Benny & he mix words sometimes,but it's never about his color.

The only thing that's off putting, is the cigarette advertisements. Not just the separate ones but the one's that are slipped into the entertainment. This and jokes about Don Wilson's weight and a somewhat disturbing hillbilly sketch,where Jack's hill character points to a 9 year old girl and says,"This is my wife". (Commentary on the age girls from the hills,sometimes,wed then.)

But...don't let the politically incorrect things ruin your enjoyment of the show. That's what the times were 50 to 60 years ago.

That's my only reason for taking one point away,otherwise it would surely be ten stars all the way.

What do think Jack? - "WELL!" > (END)
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He Was The Best
shlbycindy26 June 2016
There will never be another Jack Benny. He was absolutely the best. My parents always watched his TV show and even when I was just a young kid I thought he was hilarious. His timing is impeccable, the jokes are truly funny, and the cast is the perfect foil for his jokes. The jokes were never dirty and the only time they were mean was when they were directed at Benny. He could make an audience laugh just by looking at them. My favorite episodes are the ones with Rochester played by the truly wonderful Eddie "Rochester" Anderson. Even though Jack was the boss, Rochester always got his way and sometimes you wondered who was actually the boss. It's hard to say which episode is my favorite, because I love them all, but I do always look forward to seeing his Christmas episode, "Jack Goes Shopping". Mel Blanc is perfect as the harried clerk. I have several DVD's of his show and they are also currently being shown on Antenna TV if anyone is looking for them.
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Benny TV Show Reruns
adamshl28 March 2016
The images may often be a bit on the slightly blurred side with the stock showing its age, but there are laughs galore to compensate. Thanks to Jewish Life Television (JLTV) the historic Dinah Shore and Jack Benny TV shows are being regularly programed in 2016.

Focusing on the Benny show, here's a man that was downright hilarious. However, behind the scenes a lot of work went into the final product. A small cadre of writers headed by George Blazer contributed to great comedic writing (with Benny an impeccable editor). Then there was as fine a supporting cast as one could hope for. Eddie Anderson, Mary Livingston, Don Wilson, Dennis Day and Mel Blanc, together with guest stars, all constituted a dream company.

Situational comedy skillfully blended with musical interludes, all displaying masterful timing and rhythm. What a wonderful way to start the day viewing these delightful shows. Thank you, Direct-TV for offering these classics from the Golden Age of Comedy.
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"From Hollywood..., The Jack Benny Program"
classicsoncall6 January 2018
Warning: Spoilers
On the occasion of my son's thirty ninth birthday earlier this week, I called and wished him a Happy Birthday, and in chatting I was reminded of television's perennial thirty nine year old - Jack Benny. I asked my son if he knew who Benny was and he replied that he didn't. Thinking about that, I found it a little sad that so many folks of the generations that grew up after the 1960's probably fall in the same boat, having missed out on some of the greatest comedians of all time. Not only Benny, but entertainers like Bob Hope, Milton Berle, Red Skelton, George Burns, Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett and so many, many others. Contrasted with modern day comics with their televised specials on venues like HBO and Netflix, one can only shudder at the offensive language and liberal use of the 'F' word that crops up in their stand-up routines; I've turned off more than one attempting to find some humor on a slow evening.

Not so with the Golden Age entertainers like Jack Benny. Having over time recently watched approximately seventy five of his TV programs that ran from 1950 through 1965, it's amazing to see how the man could get laughs from an audience just by standing there on stage or during one of his sketches. Jack Benny was probably the best at non verbal humor in the way he mugged his way through a bit and allowed his body language to convey a funny response to whatever situation he found himself in. Some of my favorite bits occurred with good friends like Bob Hope and Red Skelton, when the humor of their sketch overwhelmed even them, and they would crack up over the silliest situations. Of course that made the audience response even greater, taking a while for the comedians to get their act under control.

The Jack Benny Program featured a number of regular recurring characters, led by the show's announcer Don Wilson, who appeared in almost all of the series' episodes, closely followed by one of my all time favorites, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson as Benny's personal valet and housekeeper. Rochester gave as good as he got trading barbs with his boss, proving that Benny wasn't afraid to let his co-stars upstage him for a gag. All of his favorite players would get in on that band wagon, including singer Dennis Day, real life wife Mary Livingstone, voice artist Mel Blanc and hilarious 'yeeesss' man, Frank Nelson. To this day, I still delight in one of my favorite bits, with Mel Blanc doing a Mexican gag with the Si/Sy/Sue routine. Mel and Jack did it a number of times throughout the series, so if you've seen it, you know what I mean, and if you haven't, well, you haven't lived till you make it up to yourself.

In the early days of Jack's show, Lucky Strike cigarettes was the prime sponsor, in fact, in some of those early shows, Benny himself referred to it as The Lucky Strike Program. In a separate review on this site, I've gone into detail about the show in which Humphrey Bogart appeared as the special guest. It was 1953, and Baby Face Bogart was brought into a police precinct for questioning about a murder by Detective Benny. During this time frame, it wasn't unusual for the show to incorporate their main sponsor directly into one of their sketches, and it's hilarious to watch Bogey bouncing his chair in rhythm while he sings the Lucky Strike jingle. Sounds corny I know, but you just have to admire how these celebrity greats got along and got together to give their fans a good time. I think that era ended when the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts came to a close some time in the Seventies. Man, those were the days.

I guess I could go on and on about what you'd consider the 'old days', but for me they were a great time to grow up in, and sadly, those old time shows are missed, even if available in compilations and cable offerings like Antenna TV. Jack Benny was one of the all time greats, and if you have a few minutes, just take a look at the cast list on this site of everyone who's ever appeared on his TV program. It''s more than a 'Who's Who' of television stardom, as just about anyone you can think of from that era appeared at least once on his show. And to think, he remained thirty nine years old throughout the entire series run.
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