, and actor for radio
, and film
. Widely recognized as one of the leading American entertainers of the 20th century, Benny played the role of the comic penny-pinching miser, insisting on remaining 39 years old on stage despite his actual age, and often playing the violin badly.
Benny was known for his comic timing
and his ability to get laughs with either a pregnant pause or a single expression, such as his signature exasperated "Well!" His radio and television programs, tremendously popular from the 1930s to the 1960s, were a foundational influence on the situation comedy
Bob Crosby: That's like keeping the smog and throwing away Los Angeles.
Don Wilson: I don't think you know how much it means to me to do the commercial. After all I'm not a funny man. I can't sing or dance. I don't lead a band. What are you paying me for?
Jack: Don, you're hanging yourself.
Jack: I believe in being honest with myself. If there's one thing I hate it's when a comedian is great and won't admit it. I've never met one like that, but if I did, I'd hate them.
Jack: When another comedian has a lousy show, I'm the first one to admit it.
Jack: When they laugh at one of my jokes... it just gets me right here. [Puts hand on heart]
Rochester: Yes, that's the spot all right. You almost had a heart attack when they laughed at Bob Hope. ---- [At Liberace's House]
Liberace: What do we have for dinner?
Cook: We have some breast of flamingo and gazelle steaks.
Jack: Breast of flamingo and gazelle steaks?