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Jack Benny

Jack Benny

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Jack Benny (1894-1974), an enormously successful regular network radio personality in the 1930s, made a smooth transition to television.  The weekly TV show The Jack Benny Program aired from 1950 to 1965 and its comedy revolved around the Benny persona, which had been developed over two decades of performing.  His radio and TV shows consisted of a continuing sketch comedy, where he played the role of a vain, well-mannered and stingy (eternally “39”) bachelor, stoically suffering life’s little tragedies, surrounded by a zany entourage. Benny has been characterized as, “not one who said funny things but one who said things funny.”

Benny’s family donated to UCLA his personal, professional and business papers, as well as a collection of his television shows.  The comedian’s film and television careers are widely represented in the Archive collections.  They include seven films made for Paramount in the 1930s and 1940s: College Holiday, The Big Broadcast of 1937, Artists and Models, Artists and Models Abroad, Man About Town, Love Thy Neighbor and Buck Benny Rides Again.  There are more than 220 episodes of The Jack Benny Program, including the debut program and several specials broadcasts after the series ended its regular run.

The UCLA Library Special Collections holds the Jack Benny papers.  The collection includes 900 radio scripts and electrical transcriptions from 1932 to 1955, and 296 television scripts for The Jack Benny Program.  There are also scrapbooks, business correspondence, photographs and production stills for the years 1929-1940.

To arrange onsite research viewing access, please contact the Archive Research and Study Center (ARSC).

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