Posted ByGerry O. on November 05, 2001 at 21:08:07:
In Reply to: John L. C. Saboni (Savoni?) posted byChris B on November 05, 2001 at 20:29:05:
: I was just hanging around the house, I wasn't doing anything, I didn't feel like doing anything... I was wondering, where did the character for John L. C. Saboni come from? I get the impression that the audience was already familiar with him (maybe from an appearance on another program?) judging from the raucous laughter he got with each line. Also who was the actor?
Mr. Savoni was played by Frank Fontaine, who in the early 1960's gave the Savoni character the name "Crazy Guggenheim" and became a popular character in Jackie Gleason's "Joe The Bartender" TV sketches.
The reason for the loud audience laughter on the Benny show is probably that Fontaine was playing Sivoney the same way that he played Guggenheim...with the STUPIDEST facial expression that you've ever seen! He would stare out at the audience with this wild, half-cross eyed look and wide, silly grin...and knowing Jack Benny, it was probably a case of Jack doing everything he could to keep from completely breaking up!
One more thing about Frank Fontaine...As funny as his "Sivoney" voice was, he was also a serious singer with a rich baritone voice. On the Gleason show, they would always end the "Joe The Bartender" sketch with Frank going out of his "Guggenheim" voice and singing a sentimental old ballad in his real singing voice, while Gleason (as the bartender) leaned on the bar and listened.