JACK BENNY: An Intimate Biography by Irving Fein

JACK BENNY: An Intimate Biography

Email this review


Jack deserves better. Benny was the first of America's truly gifted comedians to use the relatively new medium of radio to plant his characters (and their hilarious trajectories) in the family living room as firmly as the upright piano. He has become part of American folk myth. ""Your money or your life!"" demands the thief. There follows the potent Benny-sustained pause. Finally, ""I'M THINKING IT OVER!"" ""Your age?"" The pause, and then carefully, ""Thirty-nine ."" Then there's the Maxwell, Mary's ""Oh, shut up!"", Rochester's Saturday night, the vault in the basement, and so much more. And the fine tuning with the excellent cast: while Benny fumes waiting to buy a ticket, a Glocca Morra-bound customer asks the ticket agent, ""How are things in Glocca Morra?"" ""Fine."" ""And is the little brook still leaping there?"" etc., etc. The welcome script excerpts will help you remember. But as for Benjamin Kubelsky, the man, there's not much, except a very brief rundown of Benny's seemingly effortless glide from Waukegan high school dropout to a local theater orchestra and so into show biz. With minor exceptions, good critical material on Benny's technique is also lacking. This is mainly a collection of creaking celebrity anecdotes by Benny's manager and producer, with some thousand-told tales in George Burns' introduction. Read it for a refresher course on the long gone days of ""Jello again!"" and exit with Saroyan's estimate: ""He stood straight and walked kind of sideways as if he were being shoved by a touch of genius. . . .

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 1975
Publisher: Putnam