Jack Benny

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Jack Benny in 1964

Jack Benny (February 14, 1894December 26, 1974), born Benjamin Kubelsky, was an American comedian, vaudeville performer, and radio, television, and film actor. He was one of the biggest stars in classic American radio and was also a major television personality.


The Jack Benny Program (Radio: 1932-1955)[edit]

  • Mugger: Your money or your life.

(long, awkward pause)

  • Mugger: Look bud. I said, your money or your life.
  • Jack: I'm thinking it over!
    • Broadcast on Jack Benny radio program, 28 March 1948. Sourced from audio recording.

The Jack Benny Program (Television: 1950-1965)[edit]

The following selections are from "The Jack Benny Program" (1950).

  • Bob Crosby: That's like keeping the smog and throwing away Los Angeles.
  • Don Wilson: I don't think you know how much it means to me to do the commercial. After all I'm not a funny man. I can't sing or dance. I don't lead a band. What are you paying me for?
  • Jack: Don, you're hanging yourself.
  • Jack: I believe in being honest with myself. If there's one thing I hate it's when a comedian is great and won't admit it. I've never met one like that, but if I did, I'd hate them.
  • Jack: When another comedian has a lousy show, I'm the first one to admit it.
  • Jack: When they laugh at one of my jokes... it just gets me right here. [Puts hand on heart]
  • Rochester: Yes, that's the spot all right. You almost had a heart attack when they laughed at Bob Hope.

[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.

  • Marilyn Monroe: What about the difference in our ages?
  • Jack: Oh, it's not that big a difference. You're twenty-five and I'm thirty-nine.
  • Marilyn Monroe: I know, Jack. But what about twenty-five years from now when I'm fifty and you're thirty-nine?
  • Jack: Gee, I never thought of that.

[on trial for murder, Jack has Perry Mason defending him]

  • Jack: I can't understand it. On your show you always win.
  • Perry Mason: Maybe my writers are better than yours.

  • Jack: What do you think of this card I wrote for Don? "To Don from Jacky, Oh golly, oh shucks. I hope that you like it, It cost forty bucks.
  • Rochester: It would've been hard to rhyme a dollar ninety-eight.

  • Jack Benny: We're a little late, so good night, folks.

  • Jack Benny: Where's that big glass star I told you to pack away last Christmas?
  • Rochester: You mean that shiny one with the three points on it?
  • Jack Benny: That star has five points.
  • Rochester: Well, it went down two points this last year.

  • Thug: This is a stickup! Now come on. Your money or your life.
[long pause]
  • Thug: [repeating] Look, bud, I said 'Your money or your life.'
  • Jack Benny: I'm thinking I'm thinking!

  • Thug: You're gonna give us $10,000, or we're gonna break both your legs.
  • Jack Benny: Does it have to be both?

[Jack picks up a jar from the dresser]
  • Jack: Hey, wait a minute. What kind of make up is this?
  • Rochester: Well, you said you wanted something to make you look nice and tanned.
  • Jack: I know, but peanut butter?
  • Jack: I want to look tanned, not lumpy.

[Jack decides to have a shave]

  • Rochester: [checking his equipment] Shaving cream, brush, razor, smelling salts.
  • Jack: Smell?... What do I want with smelling salts?
  • Rochester: That's for me. I can't stand the sight of blood.

[Rochester has started shaving Jack]
  • Rochester: Oh oh.
  • Jack: What's the matter?
  • Rochester: I think I cut you.
  • Jack: What do you mean, you think? Can't you tell?
  • Rochester: It would help if you bleed a little.

  • Bob Hope: [on being on a CBS show] I feel like Zsa Zsa Gabor at a P.T.A. meeting.

  • Bob Hope: By the way, this is where Bing did his last show and I think they've done very nicely. They've gotten most of it out of the curtains.

  • Bob Hope: [finding some coins tied with string in Jack's trousers] When you ask this kid for a loan, and he says his money is tied up, he isn't kidding. This is an obstacle course for pickpockets.

[Bob walks on carrying Jack's trousers]
  • Bob: Welcome to the Lucky Strike Program. In just a few minutes, you'll see our star, Gypsy Rose Benny.
  • Jack: [poking his head through the stage curtains] Bob, will you please give me my pants back?
  • Bob Hope: Put your head back through there, or I'll start handing out baseballs to the audience.
  • Don Wilson: [Poking his head through the curtains] Bob, Bob, quick, give me Jack's pants!
  • Bob Hope: Why do you want Jack's pants?
  • Don Wilson: Because I had to give him mine.
  • Hope: You mean, Jack's actually wearing your pants?
  • Jack: [out of shot] Darn right I am.

  • Bob: This is rather strange for me, I'm on the major network. [mouths ABC]

  • Bob: [about Bing Crosby] He's up in Nevada looking over Boulder Dam - his piggy bank is filled. He's so loaded, you know, he uses Howard Hughes for a bell boy.

[Our heroes enter a jungle clearing carrying a tiger on a pole]
  • Jack: These last 2 miles were rugged, weren't they?
  • Clyde: I knew as soon as we got off the freeway, we'd run into trouble.
  • Jack: It's really dangerous, here in the jungle.
  • Clyde: You're telling me. What about those first three nights, we had to light fires to keep the animals away.
  • Jack: Yeah, then we ran out of water. For three weeks we couldn't even take a bath.
  • Clyde: Then the animals lit fires to keep us away.
  • Jack: [Pointing to the tiger] He must have gone to a veterinarian in Denmark.
  • Clyde: I wondered why he had his hand on his hip when I shot him.
  • Jack: What kind of tiger is that - Siberian or Bengal?
  • Clyde: General Electric.

[our heroes have been captured by a tribe on cannibals, and are standing in a large pot]
  • Jack: I'm scared, I'm frightened.
  • 'Clyde:' Frightened. Why, you yellow-belly. Do you want to live forever?
  • Jack: No, I just want to reach 40.
  • Clyde: Oh, we're not going to make that trip again, oh no.

  • Jack: [pointing a pistol at Bob's trousers] I'm going to blow your brains out.
[Bob adjusts Jack's gun arm, so that the pistol is now pointing at Bob's head]
  • Bob Hope: Let's not do any jokes we didn't plan on, eh.

About Jack Benny[edit]

  • For a man who was the undisputed master of comedy timing, you'd have to say that this was the only time when Jack Benny's timing was all wrong. He left us much too soon. He was stingy to the end. He only gave us eighty years and it wasn't enough.
    • Bob Hope at Jack Benny's memorial service; reported in William Robert Faith, Bob Hope: A Life In Comedy (2003), p. 392.
  • Throughout Jack's violin solo at the Hollywood Bowl, the audience was glued to their seats. That was the only way he could get them to sit down.
    • Zubin Mehta in Irving Fein, Jack Benny: an Intimate Biography (1976), Volume 2, p. 154.

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