JACK BENNY by Mary Livingstone & Hilliard Marks with Marcia Borie Benny

JACK BENNY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Quotation marks reign supreme in this Bennydiction of eulogies and anecdotes and trivia--a family affair, lightly laced over a chronological framework by widow Mary Livingstone (nÉe Sadie Marks) and Mary's brother Hickey (a writer-producer for Jack), with additional testimony from sister Florence, adopted daughter Joan (""we were very close--as long as it wasn't anything personal""), the grandchildren, Dennis Day, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Gregory Peck, Mrs. Gregory Peck, and a host of others, including Jack himself, who set down some memories of Waukegan and vaudeville before his death at 80 in 1974. Except for the death of co-star Carole Lombard, there's no drama or tension to speak of in Benny Kubelsky's slowish but steady rise from the violin half of a music duo to solo act to Mr. Radio & Television. So there's no reason not to interrupt the story for Mary's confession of ""mike fright"" and jealousy of Ann Sheridan, for descriptions of Jack's house, wardrobe, and diet, for radio scripts, Jack's wartime diary, or a dozen different tries at defining the Benny genius. Carson: ""People liked him."" Burns: ""He had this tremendous talent, but he looked like he didn't."" The only surprise here is Mary's importance as his professional guide and co-perfectionist as well as second banana and 50-year romance--and everyone's emphasis on his attractiveness to women. The rest, told more warmly than in Irving Fein's equally unfocused 1976 bio, is as expected--effusive and loving and proud (""Daddy died on top--still a star!"") as Jack's most fervent fans would want it to be.

Pub Date: Feb. 3rd, 1977
Publisher: Doubleday