Benny Goodman

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Please elaborate on this for ...

Jack Benny, The Jack Benny Show

Question: Please elaborate on this for my dad, who is a big fan of the late Jack Benny. Two of his biggest character traits were his cheapness and his bad violin-playing. Was he really that cheap? And was he really so bad on violin? Thanks.


Answer: You provided the answer in your question, Bill, when you used the term "character traits." Benny, who built a career via vaudeville and a popular radio show before launching TV's The Jack Benny Show, which kicked off on CBS in 1950 and finished 15 years later on NBC, played his stinginess to the hilt, played the violin poorly — and faked both well enough to become an entertainment legend. It was all part of the insecure, self-centered, no-talent character he invented and pulled off well enough to fool those who didn't know any better.

Of course, countering that image — one of the comic's most famous gags was facing down an armed robber who threatened, "Your read more

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