The Jack Benny Program

The Jack Benny Program is a lighthearted comedy show that revolves around the life of the famed entertainer Jack Benny. This 30 minute program usually opens with Mr. Benny delivering a monologue. The monologue is followed by a comedic plot that stars Mr. Benny and several regular cast members. The program also always features a guest star, many of whom are singers.

Many of the episodes center on Jack Benny's violin playing and his penny-pinching frugality. The program is set in the Beverly Hills, California area. The guest stars on each episode normally play a role in the episode's comedy sketch. If the guest star is a singer, a song is usually performed.

The on-air announcer on the Jack Benny Program, Don Wilson, plays a prominent role in most episodes. Mr. Benny frequently jokes with Don Wilson about the announcer's weight and his love of food.

Eddie Anderson, who plays Mr. Benny's live-in valet on the show, also figures prominently in most episodes of the Jack Benny Program.

Other cast members on this program include Dennis Day, Mary Livingstone and Mel Blanc.

CBS
15 Seasons, 258 Episodes
October 28, 1950
Classic TV, Comedy
8.6/10
Cast: Jack Benny, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Isaac Stern, Margaret Whiting
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The Jack Benny Program
Episodes

The Jack Benny Program Full Episode Guide

  • The Smothers Brothers introduce the show trying to sing "Love in Bloom." Later, they sing "Boil that cabbage down" and "I never will marry." The sketch is set in London in 1944, after an air raid. Jack has been trapped under an unexploded bomb, and the Smothers Brothers play the bomb defusing squad.

  • Jack picks up his new, expensive, tailor-made suit in Beverly Hills. A State Farm claims person shows up in the store before an auto accident outside the store has even happened. Benny wears his new suit to his sponsor's home for dinner, where it is ruined by his sponsor's dog

  • The show opens with Jack's publicity agent and a photographer posing photos of Jack, first as a Beatle (for a younger image), and then as a frogman and as a surfer (to depict Benny as a man of action). Dennis sings 'There'll be music' while Don plays the piano. When the photographer poses Don and asks him to think of the most exciting thing in the world, Don gives a bigger smile thinking of State Farm Insurance. When Dennis mentions that he cashes his check at the gas station, Jack takes him to the bank to open an account. There he visits his private safety deposit vault, which is guarded much like his vault at home.

  • Jack's first partner, who worked with Jack as a variety team in the Navy, is retiring. He wants to hold Jack to a promise made forty years ago that they would work together again when he got out. Jack tries him out on his show, but he can't say his lines, and his old routines are too corny.

  • At the rehearsal for his show, Jack keeps making mistakes. Don does the State Farm commercial with a drum covered with paper: you can't beat State Farm. Because Jack has been complaining that he is working too hard, the Programming Department has found a double for him; however, the sponsor must never know, and they decide they must fool Rochester if they want to fool the sponsor.

  • Jack takes viewers on a tour of his legendary bank vault.

  • Rochester explains the rules to the new housekeeper; the main one is that they must watch Benny's show. In Benny's monologue, he explains how he keeps fit, and announces that the American Federation of Musicians has given him a one-way ticket to Australia. Dennis Day sings the State Farm Insurance jingle, and then "If ever I would leave you," to a running commentary by Rochester and the maid. Rochester tells her about the time Benny fired Dennis Day: in flashback to the radio days, Dennis suggests they all drive to Palm Springs for the weekend, where it rains the whole time.

  • Jack's monologue concerns TV ratings. He is interrupted by a member of the audience from Toledo who wants to take a picture of his family with Jack. Don does the One-A-Day Brand Vitamins commercial with one member of the family. Dennis sings 'Chicago is my kind of town.' In the sketch, Jack plays a Sultan visiting one of his villages. Jack's crew had devised a flying carpet that was supposed to fly, but it fails to do so; to cover up, a troop of acrobats takes over; Jack, worried about being upstaged, goes out to stop them, and is incorporated in their act. The show ends with Jack hanging from the stage rigging about 15 feet off the ground.

  • Jack introduces cameraman Charlie Summers and his new wife from the audience; she asks why Charlie has never had a raise. Jack's guest is Stuart Canin, who, as a 10-year-old violin prodigy, could play the Bee better than Jack and did so on Fred Allen's show. He is now Professor of Violin at Oberlin. He plays Vida breve by Manuel de Falla on the Stradivarius. Don Wilson introduces a man with a rocket pack, radar, a telephone, a direction finder, and a record player who wants to be a State Farm agent. In the sketch, Jack plays the violin-maker Antonio Stradivari, whose wife complains that he could make more money by turning out his violins at a faster clip. Jack and Canin play the Bee in duet.

  • In the sketch, the Kingston Trio join prisoner Benny in the Tijuana jail. The Kingstons sing 'Tijuana Jail' and 'I'm going home.'

  • In the opening monologue, Jack shows the audience why his Stradivarius is worth $30,000. He introduces Milton Berle and they spar a bit. Don introduces Miss Carmelita Montoya, a dancer from Madrid who uses One-a-Day Brand Vitamins for castanets. The sketch is about Jonathan Goodheart (Jack), wealthy philanthropist who believes there is no such thing as a bad boy, but his newly adopted son (Berle) gives him cause to wonder.

  • Guest Jack Jones sings 'Bewitched, bothered and bewildered,' and 'I need a girl.' In the sketch, Benny plays the principal of Benedict Arnold High School, and Jones is a moonlighting teacher working as a car washer.

  • Jack Does a solo show and while going out to the audience her asks Gisele Mackenzie To sing a song.

  • Jack's usual amateur show: Mel Blanc plays the drunken bottle-player; Dennis Day plays a Japanese in a Beatle outfit who sings 'I want to hold your hand;' The Guire Sisters do their singing act.

  • One of the alligators that guards Jack's secret vault falls ill, so Jack calls in a veterinarian.

  • Jack's guests are comic Louis Nye and singer Wayne Newton, who describes how he was discovered at a benefit that was raising money to send "underprivileged" Beverly Hills children to camp--on the French Riviera. Newton sings 'You're nobody till somebody loves you,' 'Falling in love,' and 'When the saints go marching in.'

  • Rochester finally manages to get Jack to give him a week off by telling him how much he needs and deserves a vacation. While relaxing at the Palm Valley Inn with his friend Roy, he reads an ad for domestic help put in the paper by Jack. Don and Dennis come to Rochester's aid; discovering that Jack has already hired a housekeeper, they try to scare her off.

  • Jack's guests play three women from the Beverly Hills Improvement Committee who conspire to rid the city of Benny's Maxwell auto by holding a raffle and selling Jack the only ticket, so that he will win a replacement auto.

  • Don introduces the show by announcing that the show must go on; Jack is brought out in traction in a hospital bed. Abbe Lane sings 'I believe in you.' Don says he needs his glasses to do the State Farm commercial; when he finds them, they include a funny nose and a State Farm sign. In the sketch, Benny plays a scientist living deep in the jungle trying to develop a non-skid banana peel. Abbe Lane plays his beautiful wife, who is sick of the rain, and Dennis plays his new assistant, Lawrence of Africa.

  • In his monologue, Jack reveals that his producer has been using raffle tickets to get the audience to stay in their seats until the end of the program. He introduces Connie Francis, and they argue about whether it is harder to sing or to get laughs. She sings "I was born too late," an Al Jolson medley ("Swanee," "Mammy," and "April showers"). Don does the Alka-Seltzer commercial as an endorsement by a safe-cracker. In the sketch, Benny, Stevens, Dale White and Don Wilson play members of the Skinner family of the Ozarks. They all sing a parody of "Sit right down and write yourself a letter." This sketch is a remake of the "Ah, Wilderness" radio program of May 16, 1937.

  • When Bob Hope drops by, Jack comes up with what he's convinced is a great idea: The two should team up to cut a comedy record album.

  • The IRS interviews Jimmy and Gloria Stewart about some unusual aspects of neighbor Jack's tax return.

  • Jack and his guest Andy Williams perform at the gala grand opening of a meat market. Andy sings "On the street where you live."

  • Guest star Lucille Ball appears with Jack in a sketch that reveals the "true" story of Paul Revere's famous ride in 1775.

  • For his 15th and final television season, Jack Benny is welcomed back to NBC after an absence of 16 years.

  • Jack discusses the ability of radio to paint pictures in the mind, and Mel Blanc demonstrates his various voices. Jack and Dennis redo the sketch from Jan. 27 1957, in which Jack plays the Fiddler.

  • Don has arranged for Harlow to take the sponsor's daughter on a date. Unfortunately, Harlow has never been on a date before.

  • Jack's guests, the pop singing group The Lettermen, provoke surprisingly strong reactions from Jack Benny and his regular singer Dennis Day. They bump Dennis from singing on the show at all, so he skulks behind the scenery as the Phantom of the Comedy. Jack, The Waukegan Wizard, claims he earned a high school letter as a cheerleader, but regrets he didn't attend college, so the World's Oldest Freshman enrolls with The Lettermen.

  • Jack rehearses some Dixieland music on his violin with members of his band. Then he does some public service announcements, including one on safe driving; a close-up of his driver's license reveals it has expired. He and Don go to the California Dept. of Motor Vehicles to renew his license. While there, Don buys (from a con man/ventriloquist) a parrot that sings about State Farm Insurance.

  • Jack daydreams that he is fight manager for Kid Dynamite (Dennis Day).

  • The story of how Jack discovered his dim-witted boy tenor, Dennis Day, is related in this episode.

  • Benny monologue. Miss Beverly Hills sings "Only one man," and does strip. In skit, Don pretends to break his leg so that his son Harlow can have his big chance. Harlow reads "Ode to California."

  • Jack thinks Bobby Darin would be just the person to play him in a film based on his life.

  • Nat King Cole sings "Day in, day out," and "When I fall in love." In the sketch Jack plays his violin with his band members, while 5-year-old Jimmy Bradley plays the drums.

  • Peter, Paul and Mary sing Blowin' in the Wind, and a folk song about Jack. In the sketch, Jack has invited them to his house, where he asks them to record a song he wrote.

  • Jack relates to the audience how he first met and later teamed up with good friend George Burns.

  • Jack asks two members of the audience to read the commercial, while he does sound effects. Benny plays the violin. The audience sings 'Auld lang syne.' Mary calls Jack to congratulate him on doing the whole show by himself without any supporting cast, and to ask him to take out the garbage when he gets home.

  • Jack hosts an amateur talent contest with a barefoot tap dancer, an acrobat and his dog, a drunk acrobat, and a Mexican musical group led by Mel Blanc. Benny and Jessel do a skit.

  • Jack's monologue is about golfing. He calls up a man from the audience who turns out to be a TV statistician, and tells Jack he has told 80,000 jokes and gotten 30,000 laughs. Dennis comes out to say he quits because Jack has called him stupid 2,000 times. In the sketch, Don, Jack and Dennis play the Three Musketeers: Jackels, Donnels and Dennells.

  • Jack is working on a Julius Caesar sketch, while being pursued by an amorous female fan. Don does the State Farm commercial as an encounter with an admirer who thinks State Farm is terrific because it paid for his car accident even though he wasn't insured with them. Dennis wants to take over the show for a few weeks, so he hires a Benny impersonator to make phone calls in Benny's name, and thus make Jack think he is going crazy; Jack winds up on the mental ward of the hospital.

  • Jack boards a cruise liner to Hawaii and discovers that sex kitten Jayne Mansfield is also aboard the vessel.

  • Ed Sullivan is nervous about doing "His first Dramatic part" on the show, but he gets into the spirit playing an attorney defending a French girl accused of murder. The case seems to be stacked against district attorney Jack when the entire jury are beret-and-smock wearing,baguette-wielding Frenchmen.

  • Jack takes over as director of a film starring neighbor Jimmy Stewart.

  • Jack gives Johnny Carson advice on how to run the Tonight show. Johnny does card tricks, plays the drums, sings and dances to Ballin' the Jack. They do a mock version of the Tonight show with Jack as Johnny's guest. Don Wilson does a man-on-the-street interview for the commercial.

  • In the monologue, Jack discusses the writing of his autobiography. He introduces Clint Walker, saying they both have a lot in common: both were born in Illinois, joined the Navy and have blue eyes. Clint Walker sings The Navajo Trail. Clint mentions that they are casting for his twin brother in his new picture. Don comes out with a table on wheels, and demonstrates that he can eat a whole meal, and still have room for JELL-O. In the sketch, Jack, in elevator shoes, auditions for Clint Walker's twin brother; he watches a prior applicant rehearse a scene in which the twin brother is beaten up, and decides he doesn't want the part after all. Remake of the sketch done Sept. 21, 1958 with Gary Cooper.

  • Don, Carol and Jack make their entrance jumping through large doorways covered with paper; Jack can't break through and Carol has to do it for him. Jack and Carol talk about her desire to become a director, and she makes some suggestions about his show. She sings "Sweet Georgia Brown." In the sketch, Jack, Don, and Carol play riverboat card sharks out to cheat each other.

  • Jack makes his entrance from the opposite side of the stage, and stands with his back to the audience out of force of habit. Don rolls out a carpet, and Goulet comes out vacuuming it-he had failed to read the fine print on his contract. Goulet tells about growing up in Canada, tells a Nelson Eddy joke, discusses playing nightclubs with Jack, and sings, This is all I ask. Jack questions Goulet's reputation as a ladies' man, leading into the sketch: in flashback, Jack sees Goulet and his girl at a Hollywood nightclub; his girl makes a pass at Jack. Later we learn that in fact Jack's girl made a pass at Goulet.

  • Season opener. Don, Jack and Dennis do the commercial as Peter, Paul and Mary. At Billy Graham's request, the skit is redone according to a new formula in which there are no insults to anyone, and everyone is quiet and sweet; Dennis reports that he went to UCLA over the summer. Billy Graham gives a short inspirational message.