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Jack Benny was among the most beloved American entertainers of the 20th Century. He brought a humorously vain, yet simultaneously self-deprecating, persona honed in vaudeville, radio, and film to television in 1950, starring in his own television series, The Jack Benny Show.
Born Benjamin Kubelsky to a Polish-Jewish father and Lithuanian-Jewish mother, Benny was raised outside of Chicago in Waukegan, IL. Initially slated to run as five specials, The Jack Benny Show slowly but surely expanded, becoming one of the most popular television shows of the 1950s and 60s. Benny played a fictional version of himself, Jack Benny the television star, and his myriad shortcomings were mercilessly exposed every week by his supporting cast.
The Jack Benny Show crossed boundaries by being the only program for decades that consistently portrayed Americans of mixed races living and working side by side, most often with Jack Benny's ever-present butler, Rochester (portrayed by Eddie Anderson).