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Thousands Attend Benny Funeral

December 31, 1974
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Benny Kubelsky who was born in Waukegan, Ill., the son of Jewish immigrants from Russia who owned a saloon, and became world famous as Jack Benny, the stingiest man in the world, was buried yesterday in Hillside Memorial Park in Culver City. The self-styled skinflint and perennially 39-year-old, died Thursday night of inoperable cancer in his Beverly Hills home. He was 80. More than 2000 Hollywood celebrities and fans turned out for the funeral service. Rabbi Edgar Magnin of Wilshire Boulevard Temple officiated.

A show business institution, Mr. Benny carved out a reputation in vaudville, radio, motion pictures and television. His humor was not that of the sharp repartee or one-line jokes or even prolonged comedy situations, but rather his “Mona Lisa” smile, his long drawn out “Hm-m-m-m,” his deadpan delivery, his tightfisted way with money, and his scratchy and off-key violin playing. In a telegram to the comedian’s wife, Mary Livingstone (Sadye Marks), President Ford summed up the feeling of millions: “If laughter is the music of the soul, Jack and his violin and his good humor have made life better for all men.”

Despite his self-styled image as a tightwad, Mr. Benny was generous with his money in real life and was a contributor to many causes, including Jewish and Israeli causes. He made a trip to Israel in the early 1970s where he appeared at the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv at a concert sponsored by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel. He also toured the country visiting hospitals and army camps. He had visited Palestine briefly during World War II as part of the Overseas Armed Forces.

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