had been a regular network-radio personality since 1932. When he made his first
tentative forays into television in 1950, it was with a series of specials that
aired on an infrequent basis in what would eventually become his regular Sunday
nighttime slot. Ten of them aired during the 1950-1951 and 1951-1952 seasons.
From October 5, 1952, through the following January his show was televised once
every four weeks, and when he returned again, on September 13, 1953, it was on
an alternate-week basis that lasted through June of 1960. For his last five
seasons, The Jack Benny Show aired every week.
The format of
the show, and the personality of its star, so well honed in two decades on
radio, made the transition to television almost intact. Jack's stinginess,
vanity about his supposed age of 39, basement vault where he kept all his money,
ancient Maxwell automobile, and feigned ineptness at playing the violin were all
part of the act and were, if anything, bolstered by their visibility on the TV
show. Added to Jack's famous pause and exasperated "Well!" were a rather mincing
walk, an affected hand to the cheek, and a pained look of disbelief when
confronted by life's little tragedies.
regulars who were with Jack throughout his television run were Eddie "Rochester"
Anderson as his valet and Don Wilson as his announcer and friend. Appearing on a
more irregular basis were Dennis Day, Artie Auerbach, Frank Nelson, Mary
Livingstone (Mrs. Benny), and Mel Blanc, all veterans from the radio show.
Blanc, the master of a thousand voices (including Bugs Bunny), was both heard as
the engine of Jack's Maxwell and seen as Prof. Le Blanc, his long-suffering
underplayed comedy was as popular on television as it had been on radio. After
thirteen years as a more or less regular television performer, he cut back his
schedule to an occasional special and continued to appear until the year of his
death, 1974. CBS brought back four episodes from The Jack Benny Show,
originally filmed in the early 1960s, for a limited run in August 1977.
CBS had also
aired reruns of this series on weekday afternoons from October 1964 to September
1965 as The Jack Benny Daytime Show and on Sunday afternoons from October
1964 to March 1965 as Sunday with Jack Benny.