And so began the radio career which lasted over 23 years and created one of the all time favorite and timeless radio comedies. All based on the somehow loveable character who was a vain, argumentative, cheapskate who loved his money more than anything else and was a self-proclaimed, but often incorrect, expert.
Jack Benny once noted, "I played a character who embodied all the faults and frailties of mankind." Yet, America fell in love with him in part because it was clear that Benny was playing a part that was the complete opposite of his true self.
Although Jack Benny was the star of the show, just about every joke was at his expense. This combined with Benny's character flaws provided his writers and supporting cast, which included his wife Sadye Marks as Mary Livingstone and Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, an unlimited supply of hilarious material which propelled them to the top of the ratings. Jack Benny also paved the way in leading radio away from the Vaudeville style of stand up, slapstick comedy towards character based relationship comedy. In the process, they created the first situational comedy.
Over the years, Jack Benny and his team created a number of gags and trademark lines including a parody of The Whistler called The Fiddler, the hidden basement bank vault surrounded by a moat with a guard who hasn't seen daylight since the Revolutionary War, a 12 year long on the air "feud" with the Fred Allen Show. But his most notable gag was where a crook would corner Benny and demand "Your Money or Your Life?" After a long pause, the impatient crook would demand an answer. An annoyed Benny would respond, "I'm thinking about it!"
It wasn't long before the answer to the original question of "Who cares?" became, "His millions of friends and fans care!"
Jack Benny Neighbors 8 CDs by Jack Benny
Ronald and Benita Colman made 20 guest appearances on The Jack Benny Program, including some of the most hilarious entries in the series. The Colmans' refined personaes played an excellent "grand opera" to the "ragtime" of Jack's mercenary enterprises.
In this set, y ... read more
Jack Benny Picture Parodies: Classic Radio Comedy by Jack Benny
Lights! Microphone! Action!
Hilarious Hollywood spoofs were a beloved feature on many classic Jack Benny radio shows. Regular cast members and guest stars alike were recruited to send up cinema classics like Casablanca, High Noon, and Sunset Boulevard. Celebrities co ... read more
Jack Benny The Gang's All Here 10 CDs by Jack Benny
Jack Benny's supporting cast - his "gang" - was the heart, soul, and success of his radio program. Mary Livingstone, Don Wilson, Phil Harris, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Dennis Day, Frank Nelson, Mel Blanc, Artie Auerbach, and Ronald and Benita Colman delivered many of the bes ... read more
The Feud: Jack Benny vs. Fred Allen (10 CDs) by Jack Benny
Among radio comedy's most enduring features were its running gags - and few gags ran longer, or more hilariously, than the legendary feud between two of its great masters: Jack Benny and Fred Allen. For nearly twenty years the mere mention of Benny on an Allen program was gu ... read more