Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Rights in a name. How Benjamin Kubelsky became Jack Benny.

The comedian we know as Jack Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky. One likely is not surprised that someone in the entertainment business might go from Kubelsky to Benny. However, the path taken by Jack Benny is a bit out-of-the-ordinary.

Under his given name of Kubelsky, the person Benjamin Kubelsky (later Jack Benny) formed a vaudeville musical duo with pianist Cora Salisbury. In the act, Kubelsky played the violin, and it happened that there was a famous violinist named Jan Kubelik, who felt the names Kubelsky and Kubelik were confusingly similar. Thus, Kubelsky became Ben K. Benny, not because Kubelsky was a bad name but because it was confusingly similar to a good name in the violin business.

But, we aren't done yet. There was another violin performer named Ben Bernie, who objected to the use of Ben K. Benny. Ben K. Benny, once Benjamin Kubelsky , became Jack Benny.

And yes there is a Jersey connection. Mary Livingstone (Jack Benny's wife; born Sadie Marks and a cousin of the Marx Brothers) was introduced in the tv show as a clerk at May's Department store who hailed from Plainfield, New Jersey.


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