Sunday, 24 September 2017

Doesn't Slow Down

Jack Benny had been around so long, and seen or heard so often by 1968, it must have been tough for national columnists to come up with something different to write about him. But they managed, though if you view them collectively, there’s a lot of repetition.

Jack hit the publicity circuit in early 1968 to push his latest TV special. Columnists usually got around to fleshing out their story—after all, an out-and-out plug would be a little unseemly—generally asking about his charity concert work or about his show-biz friends.

This story published March 8, 1968 has a few of the usual nuggets and a couple of other little things. Jack gets across some “cheap” and “39” one-liners; I suppose he was resigned to the fact it was expected of him.

Jack Benny, at 74, Refuses To Slow Down; Acts Like 39

North American Newspaper Alliance
HOLLYWOOD — Jack Benny is a man who acts like he really believes he's 39 years old. The way he bounces around the country, doing symphony concerts, personal appearances and now his own special on TV, you would think he has forgotten that he has been 39 since 1933.
"Take it easy?" asks Jack. "At my age?"
The fact is that Jack is having a ball. His closest friends realize that. Nobody enjoys life and movement more than Jack. This couldn't be more definitely projected than when he is doing a guest soloist spot with a major symphony orchestra, as he just did in Boston with Eric Leinsdorf and the Boston Symphony orchestra. Or when he is cavorting around in a TV comedy special.
"I have just finished a show which will be seen on NBC-TV March 20," he says with all the enthusiasm of a video newcomer, "and I think it's one of the best I've done in years. We've got a great cast, real pros like Lucille Ball and Johnny Carson. And Ben Blue and a combo called Paul Revere and The Raiders. "Sure thing," Jack chuckled, "somebody had to ask me if I played with the original group."
Some of his old buddies turned up, too, for what they called "cameos" — among them Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Danny Thomas, George Burns, The Smothers Brothers and the Dodgers' 100-grand-per-year pitching ace, Don Drysdale.
It is a historic fact in show business that Jack Benny is the best audience in the world. He laughs louder and longer than anybody. Oddly, although they've been pals and perennial trodders of the vaudeville boards for many decades, Benny and George Burns are each other's greatest fans.
"The guy can just walk into a room and he breaks me up," says Jack. When they appear on the same dais at stag events around Hollywood, the dialog is something to remember—and to shudder over. They are constantly contriving practical jokes.
Having attained the venerable age of 74 on Valentine's day, Jack is actually more occupied these days than in years past. He has made 60 appearances with major symphonies around the country at no fee to himself, raising close to $4.5 million for symphony funds in the process. He has racked up box office records all over the U.S. and in Canada. Next month he goes to London for several TV shows and concerts.
Also in March he will deliver to U.C.L.A. all the memorabilia of his show business career, which he began saving upon his first professional appearance (in Knickerbockers) in the pit orchestra of the Barrison theater in Waukegan, Ill., at age 16. He will donate all of his scripts, film, tape recordings, stills and clippings, and U.C.L.A. authorities are properly ecstatic over their coup.
Does Jack have any secrets of eternal youth? Nothing spectacular. "I've been blessed with good health and an ability to relax. I love to fiddle and I play the violin to keep myself amused during the long waits between television shots. Mainly, I love doing what I'm doing, I enjoy my work so much, I think I would do it for nothing . . . BUT DON'T PRINT THAT!" he screams.

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