Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky; February 14, 1894 – December 26, 1974) was an American comedian, vaudevillian, radio, television, and film actor, and violinist. Recognized as a leading American entertainer of the 20th century, Benny portrayed his character as a miser, playing his violin badly. In character, he would be 39 years of age, regardless of his actual age.
Benny was known for comic timing, and the ability to create laughter with a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!" His radio and television programs, popular from the 1930s to the 1970s, were a major influence on the sitcom genre.
In October 1974, Benny canceled a performance in Dallas after suffering a dizzy spell, coupled with numbness in his arms. Despite a battery of tests, Benny's ailment could not be determined. When he complained of stomach pains in early December, a first test showed nothing, but a subsequent one showed he had inoperable pancreatic cancer. Choosing to spend his final days at home, he was visited by close friends including George Burns, Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Carson and John Rowles. He died on December 26, 1974.
George Burns, Benny's best friend for more than fifty years, attempted to deliver a eulogy. He broke down shortly after he began and was unable to continue. Bob Hope also delivered a eulogy in which he stated, "This is the only time Jack's timing was all wrong. He left us much too soon." He was interred in a crypt at Hillside Memorial Park Cemetery in Culver City, California. Benny's will arranged for flowers, specifically a single long-stemmed red rose, to be delivered to his widow, Mary Livingstone, every day for the rest of her life.
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