Fred Allen, Mary Martin and Jack Benny – 1940
I believe Jack Benny was one of the funniest comedians of all time. Benny could elicit more laughs with a look, gesture or single utterance than other comedians could with an entire monologue. He became a star in vaudeville and was one of the few entertainers who made the transition to radio, film and eventually television successfully. Although Jack Benny has been dead for over 37 years, he is still fondly remembered by millions of fans.
Radio comedian Fred Allen is almost completely forgotten today. His sharp, acerbic wit which served him well on radio and through articles and books, was not appreciated as much on television and in the movies. In his final years he had secured a somewhat regular spot on the most popular TV game show “What’s My Line,” when Allen died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 61 on March 17, 1956.
Benny’s faux feud with Allen was one of the longest running gags in entertainment history. The two comedians admired one another and played the feud to the hilt, often appearing on each others radio programs.
Click here to listen to a classic Jack Benny radio program featuring Fred Allen from 1937.