Posted in WB Cartoon Companion on January 30, 2004
(né Benjamin Kubelsky, 1894-1974)
Perennially popular star of stage, radio, screen and television and -- in The Mouse That Jack Built (McKimson, 1959), for which he provided his own caricature’s voice, appearing briefly in live action -- also of cartoons. Warner Brothers artists loved to put him in the cartoons, possibly owing to a close relationship Benny had with voice man Mel Blanc, a key member of his radio troupe.
Benny is the victim of a dead-on caricature in Malibu Beach Party (Freleng, 1940) in which all of the traits of his radio character -- huge ego, cheapness, bad violin playing, &c. -- are trotted out. In Daffy Duck and the Dinosaur (Jones, 1939), Casper Caveman uses a Benny-type voice, and one or two of Benny’s mannerisms, including saying “Goodnight, folks!”. A recent article by Keith Scott in Animato! #33 indicates that the voice of Benny in both these cartoons was provided by Jack Lescoulie.
Benny is seen briefly in Hollywood Daffy (Freleng, 1946) as the figure trying to get an Oscar out of an old-fashioned toy shovel game machine. The attempts by Benny to get an Oscar were a long-running gag on his radio show.
Appearances as “Jack Bunny” can be seen in I Love To Singa (Avery, 1936) and Slap Happy Pappy (Clampett, 1940). Benny is one of the four down-on-their luck stars snubbed by Elmer Fudd in What’s Up, Doc? (McKimson, 1950), in which Benny is the second star, and is of course playing the violin.