Three of the most famous – and funny – comedians of the 20th Century were George Burns, Jack Benny and Bob Hope. They and their wives adopted all their children.
For more than 50 years, comedian Jack Benny was a star of radio, the stage and screen. His radio show, The Jack Benny Program, was a forerunner of the sitcom genre.
Jack Benny was born on February 14, 1894 in Chicago, Illinois. Benny came of age during WWI. He developed an ear for music and played the violin. He enjoyed entertaining people and in the 1920s became a successful vaudeville player with a knack for comedy. By the late 1930s, he had become the king of radio with his own show, The Jack Benny Program. In 1950, he started appearing on a television version, which alternated weekly with his radio show. The TV show ended 15 years later, after which Benny made guest TV appearances until he died, on December 26, 1974 in Beverly Hills, California.
His first radio program was in 1932; his last television program was 1965. Always with good to excellent ratings. Such a 33-year run seems unimaginable today.
From the blog “A Shroud of Thoughts” – http://mercurie.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-120th-birthday-of-jack-benny.html
Jack Benny would leave behind a legacy that only a very few other comedians could match. The Jack Benny Program was pivotal in the development of the situation comedies of radio and television, evolving from the sketch and variety format familiar from vaudeville into the sitcom format we recognize today. What is more, it is one of the few radio sitcoms that successfully made the transition from radio to television, running for fifteen years on the new medium.
Jack Benny would also have a lasting impact on future generations of comedians. The influence of Jack Benny can be seen in comics and actors as diverse as Johnny Carson, Phil Hartman, Eugene Levy, Kelsey Grammar, and Jerry Seinfeld.
Of course, Jack Benny’s greatest legacy may well be the works he left behind. His radio show is still widely available, on CDs, in digital form, and through streaming media on the internet. His television show is also widely available, with possibly the entire run available on DVD and many episodes available through streaming media. While many classic radio and television stars have long been forgotten, Jack Benny remains recognizable even to people who were born long after his death. One hundred and twenty years after his birth, Jack Benny is still regarded as one of the greatest comics of all time.
Actually, Jack Benny left two legacies: his comedy and his daughter.
Joan Benny was born in 1934 as Joan Naomi in New York City. She was adopted by Jack Benny and his wife Mary Livingston at the age of three months in September of that year. They decided to adopt after Mary’s second miscarriage. From Joan’s book Sunday Nights at Seven, 1990, Warner Books:
“I became curious and asked the obvious questions: Who were my real parents? Why didn’t they want me? (My adoptive parents answered) “We don’t know who they are, we don’t know where they are now, and they couldn’t keep you because they couldn’t afford a baby and wanted you to have a good home … Besides, you are luckier than other children – most parents can’t pick the child they want, but we chose you and we wanted you very much.”
“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.
Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.
WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor
WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!
WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival!
Copyright 2016 Michael Curry