Thursday, December 6, 2012
AN AMERICAN TREASURE IN LIVING COLOR - THE JACK BENNY HOUR - NBC-TV - CIRCA DEC. 1, 1966
Chicago-born Benjamin Kubelsky was a violin virtuoso , a master comedian and a television pioneer.
Benjamin who, you ask?
You know, too.
Jack Benny was his stage name.
He was a celebrated and beloved comic presence in radio, vaudeville, films, nightclubs,theater , concert halls and, ultimately, on television.
If you read KINESCOPE HD,I will assume that you know enough to require only the cliff notes on the meticulous genius who cultivated loads of laughter from small, but sumptuous portions of nuanced comedy.
Jack Benny had timing that made the cesium clock at the US Naval Observatory jealous...on an hourly basis.
According to those who knew him, and have written long and well about him, Benny's on-stage persona of a vain, parsimonious, self-styled bon vivant and confiremd bachelor belied the warm, generous philanthropist and accomplished performer who loved music, comedy and the audience in almost equal measure.
Benny had the most popular radio program in America, in the late 1940's, when CBS Scion William Paley wrested him away from NBC.
The audience followed him around the radio dial.
Benny and his acclaimed writers are credited by many as having perfected the situation comedy format.
Every Sunday night, Americans tuned in as the self-involved cheapskate was assaulted by a comic cadre of eccentrics,who leveled a fusilade of foolishness upon him.
The versatile cast included naive singer, Dennis Day, con-artist butler, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, effervescent announcer Don Wilson, psuedo-alcoholic bandleader Phil Harris and Jack's wry, wisecracking, love interest, Mary Livingstone ( Benny's real-life wife ).
Plus a guest star of cosmic proportions joined Benny, each week, to add fuel to the funny.
He was among the first of the great radio performers to attempt television.
In 1950, Benny,seeing the value in video, agreed to do a regularly scheduled, television series on the Tiffany Network.
THE JACK BENNY PROGRAM was born.
The genteel performer wanted to appear only on a bi-weekly basis, guarding his surgically-honed material and concerned about blatant over-exposure, since he was still on radio , appearing in clubs and making feature films.
The revered performer was a mainstay of the CBS schedule from 1950 until 1964, when CBS cancelled him in cavalier fashion.
Benny went home to NBC for the 1964-65 season, sandwiched between his old friend,Bob Hope, and the volatile Jack Paar on Friday nights.
While the show was cancelled in one season, NBCexecutives ,wisely, knew the value of having Jack Benny on their air and signed him to do a few specials each season.
Jack Benny's place in the pantheon of television's greatest performers and as one of comedy's greatest practitioners is , in my estimation, unequivocal.
Here from THE GENERALARCHIVES YOU TUBE site, in LIVING COLOR and six parts is the December 1, 1966 JACK BENNY HOUR.
Guests include Phyllis Diller, Trini Lopez, The Smothers Brothers, ten beauty pageant contestants and the 1967 American Motors line-up.