Jack Benny

Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky) was born in Chicago, Illinois, on this date in 1894. His parents were immigrants from Poland and Lithuania. One of America’s favorite comedians in vaudeville, on radio and TV, and in film, Benny was married to Sadye Marks, who some say was a cousin of the Marx Brothers and who played his […]

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George Burns

George Burns (Naftaly — later Nathan — Birnbaum) was born in New York City on this date in 1896 to a family that had immigrated from what is now southeastern Poland. He quit school in the fourth grade to become an entertainer. Burns’ vaudeville career was floundering until he met Gracie Allen in 1923 (they would […]

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The Subversive Power of Jewish Humor

by George Jochnowitz Discussed in this essay: Kvetching and Shpritzing: Jewish Humor in American Popular Culture, by Joseph Dorinson, foreword by Joseph Boskin. McFarland & Company, Inc., 2015, 248 pages. WHEN I FIRST saw the title of Joseph Dorinson’s book, I was a bit puzzled. I know that Yiddish kvetshn means “to squeeze” and can […]

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February 14: Jack Benny

Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky) was born on this day in 1894. One of America’s favorite comedians on radio, television and in film, Benny was married to Sadye Marks, whom some say was a cousin of the Marx Brothers and who played his stage girlfriend  in most of the incarnations of his show. Another key character, […]

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January 20: George Burns

George Burns (Nathan Birnbaum) was born in New York City on this day in 1896. He quit school in the fourth grade to be an entertainer. His vaudeville career was floundering until he met Gracie Allen in 1923 (they married in 1926) and started playing the cigar-smoking straight man to her silly, literal-minded woman — […]

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