Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 01-01-2009, 05:44 PM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 3,615
Any recordings of Jack Benny playing the violin seriously?

I'm told that Jack Benny was actually an accomplished violinist, and that he'd do benefit concerts where he'd play for real without hamming it up like he did in his comedy shows. Anybody know if there any recordings of these "serious" performances available?
Old 01-01-2009, 05:54 PM
Markxxx Markxxx is offline
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Chicago,IL
Posts: 14,962
Jack Benny was a decent violin player but not what anyone would call accomplished. Even his own daughter admits this in a bio she wrote (using the notes from his autobiography that was never published). She said he could hold his own on a violin.

He was no where near as bad as he pretended to be but he told Johnny Carson that if he could trade being a great violinst for his comedy career he'd do it.

He got famous because of a time he was entertaining and got boo'd. He and his partner started ad-libbing and got a lot of laughs. Eventually they put jokes in the act and they went over big while his music did not. So that was discontinued and made a joke of.

If you serach old time radio shows you can find a few places, I remember one from a Bob Hope show I listened to, where he played. I would look for old time radio and variety with him as a guest star.

Radio people were very careful to guard their on air images. For instance there is a show of Gracie Allen going on a quiz show and doing quite well. But George Burns didn't like the idea the public might get used to Gracie as anything but scatterbrained. Gracie, for instance, spoke differently in real life, something I read, she was greatful for as she could go unrecognized unlike Geroge and Jack (who were best friends in real life) who were immediately known for their voices.

Last edited by Markxxx; 01-01-2009 at 05:57 PM.
Old 01-01-2009, 05:57 PM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 3,615
Fair enough. Ignorance fought; thanks.
Old 01-02-2009, 05:46 PM
rowrrbazzle rowrrbazzle is offline
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicago
Posts: 8,542
He performed excerpts from Sarasate's "Ziegeunerweisen" when he hosted an episode of "Hollywood Palace". The arrangement is a duet for him and his violin teacher as opposed to the original for solo violin. He's playing as well as he can without his usual shtick of hilariously bad technique and intonation. The music starts at about 3:28, and you can hear him play a couple of somewhat challenging bars solo starting at about 7:10.
Old 01-02-2009, 07:45 PM
kunilou kunilou is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: Apr 1999
Posts: 22,983
When I was about 8 years old I saw Jack Benny play in a benefit with the Dallas Symphony. As an eight year old, I couldn't tell you if his performance was talented, average or mediocre. What I can remember is that he got a bigger ovation when he walked on stage than when he finished. Take that for what it's worth.
Old 01-02-2009, 07:53 PM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Pacific Northwest
Posts: 3,615
Got it. Thanks for the input and the link.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:03 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to:

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017