Jack On TV

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Posted ByGerry O. on December 19, 2001 at 21:20:01:

In Reply to: Re: "Authorized" Benny Sites/Merchandise posted byLaura Leff on December 19, 2001 at 13:47:03:

: : There are several of the classic TV comedians (both living and deceased) who have web sites and merchandise for sale...and these are authorized by either the comedian himself or his family/estate. Sid Caesar, Bob Hope and Red Skelton each have their own authorized web site, and each site offers authorized videos of excerpts/sketches from their TV shows.

: : Does anyone know if there are any plans to offer authorized Jack Benny videos for sale? I particularly think that it would be great to offer material from Jack's color NBC-TV specials on video. Those old Public Domain kinescopes from the 1950's are fun to watch, but I would love to see a nicely-packaged "official" Jack Benny video set, with program material in pristine quality.

: The estate seems to prefer licensing the rights to other people who market the shows, images, etc. The television shows are a somewhat stickier issue, because there are only about 8 of them that are in the public domain. The rights to the rest of them are owned by MCA (who bought J&M productions), not the Benny estate. I have made some inquiries to MCA, but not received a response as yet. Although the majority of people seem to feel that Jack's best work was on radio, the television shows can be quite fun as well. Since they've only had limited exposure over the past 20+ years (except for CBN in the early 80s, a short run on TV Land, and the occasional independent that picked up the syndication package), Jack's television work seems to be the least-known media work. Would love to see a set that enables people to enjoy these treasures.

: --LL

Many people tend to dismiss Jack Benny as "not being as good on TV as he was on radio", but I don't think that that's the real issue...The REAL issue is that his SHOW wasn't as good on TV as it was on radio. There are several reasons for that....mainly the absence of a consistent cast of regulars. Most of the radio gang appeared on various episodes here and there, but there wasn't a "family" feel to the TV show like there was on radio. Plus, many of Jack's later TV shows were mainly showcases for guest stars...most of them musical. How funny can you be with Jack Jones, The Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary?
As for Jack himself, there were many aspects of his comedy style which actually IMPROVED with TV...Now the Benny fan could see the stares, the hand on the cheek, the pouty attitude, etc.
It's just my opinion, but I think that the "Si-Sy-Sue" routines with Mel Blanc were MUCH funnier on TV than on radio...Mel sitting there with that deadpan expression on his face and Jack biting his lower lip trying not to crack up just puts me away!
Jack was also great at visual comedy...One of the funniest sketches that he ever did was on one of his later NBC-TV specials (I believe that it was "Jack Benny's New Look", but I could be wrong). Jack's guest was Gregory Peck and the sketch had Jack going to Peck's house to ask him to be a guest on the upcoming Benny special. The two men were talking in Peck's den, but every time they got down to business Peck's phone would ring and Jack had to wait until Peck finished the call. Jack's visual routines during Peck's lengthy phone conversations were HILARIOUS...He sat on the sofa and swung his arms and legs around like a bored 4-year old, he stuck his hands under Peck's sofa cushions looking for loose change...He even got down on the floor and entertained himself by playing a game of jacks! That sketch was a Benny CLASSIC!

Sure, Jack did some "dog" programs on TV, but there were also many moments of brilliance!

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