Sunday, 14 October 2018

Commercials, Golf and Yet Another TV Special

Gaggles of reporters—or whatever a plurality of reporters is—tended to descend on Jack Benny around St. Valentine’s Day every year to chat with him about his birthday, which fell on the same day. In 1969, it coincidentally fell around the time of one of his TV specials, giving another reason to do a column on him.

Here’s what the Associated Press’ Cynthia Lowry had to say about him in her daily piece on February 13, 1969. It’s another example of Jack talking to the media while wearing a bathrobe. There are no real surprises here, other than some comments about the Texaco spots he (and his Maxwell) did. Incidentally, none of the specials he did after this fell near his birthday.

Jack Benny to Note 39th Birthday Again

NEW YORK (AP) – By mid-afternoon Thursday, the world's youngest 39-year-old violinist had been so busy answering telephone calls and being interviewed by relays of journalists that he was still in pajamas and dressing gown. The debris of a late breakfast still occupied a table in the living room of his hotel suite.
Jack Benny, born in Waukegan, Ill., on Feb. 14, 1894, will be celebrating his 39th birthday again on Friday. The birthday is a milestone but since Jack has an NBC special coming up Monday, it seemed less important than making sure Benny fans would tune in.
"When you do a few specials as I do—like one a year," explained Jack, with his own brand of earnest, blue-eyed salesmanship, "you’ve got to make sure that they—the audience—remember when you are on. It's different, of course, when you have a weekly or even a monthly show."
Frets About Appearance
The comedian, after 75 years mostly spent in show business, still frets about his appearances on television as much as a kid with his first booking. "What are you doing in all those gasoline commercials?" was a question asked by several interviewers.
"When it comes that way I know they are after something," said Benny with utter seriousness. "I just ask them why they don't ask me what Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and I are doing in all those commercials. I'll tell you this: It was a fabulous offer and the company was interested in a lot of things. I wouldn't have touched them unless the company had been interested in sponsoring my special. Besides, I love doing them—they relate to me and they make people laugh. So?"
Looks About 50
Benny looks like a man in his 50s. He works, he estimates, about six months out of the year on TV shows, charity concerts, club dates, and even an occasional tour. The rest of the time he spends playing what he calls "dreadful golf" in Los Angeles or Palm Springs. His wife, Mary, accompanies her husband on his many trips only when he expects to be away from home for a prolonged period. They moved into an apartment several years ago but "Mary felt cooped up," and they expect to move back into a Beverly Hills house again soon, they also have a home in Palm Springs. His health is excellent.
Jack will fly back to Los Angeles today for a small birthday gathering at home, followed on Saturday by a bash thrown by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences—not for his birthday but for his 20th anniversary in TV.

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