Benny Kubelsky was born in Chicago, Illinois, on February 14, 1894. He grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, and would later become Jack Benny.
As a young boy, he was encouraged by his Jewish immigrant parents from Poland to achieve respectability as a violinist. He showed enough talent to hit the vaudeville stage, where he played popular songs, adopted a suave-but-fragile personality, and told self-deprecating jokes.
When columnist/broadcaster Ed Sullivan invited Benny on his program on March 19, 1932, the persona was effective. Benny got his own twice-weekly show later that year on CBS. His career also included a long stay at NBC and a return to CBS through his final program on May 22, 1955.
An all-star supporting cast including Benny’s wife Mary Livingstone, Eddie (Rochester) Anderson, Mel Blanc, Dennis Day, Phil Harris, Frank Nelson and announcer Don Wilson, took to ribbing and verbally jabbing the star.
Highly polished scripts kept hammering away on Benny’s portrayal of himself as a stingy and vain man, concerned about his receding hairline and adamant that he was no older than 39.
Benny’s immense popularity on radio led to his successful transition to television.
Jack Benny died on December 26, 1974.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1989.