Jack Benny made his television debut after a long career in vaudeville, radio and film. During his radio series he cultivated the traits that his television character would have as well. Jack's on-air persona was of a vain, stingy character who always claimed to be age 39. Jack's radio show aired on NBC & CBS from 1932-1955, overlapping the TV show.
Joining him from his radio cast were Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, as Jack's wise-cracking valet; Dennis Day, the naive, somewhat dense tenor who sang on the show; and Don Wilson the announcer.
Seen on a more irregular basis was Mary Livingstone, Jack's real-life wife. On the show Mary did not play Benny's spouse (Jack's character always remained single) but her role was never defined. In Mary's first appearances she played a fan of Jack's; later she portrayed Jack's secretary. Mary, who suffered from stage fright, made few television appearances before retiring from show business in 1959.
Also appearing were: - Frank Nelson (the man who always harassed Jack, greeting him with an obnoxious "YEEESSSS"), - Artie Auerbach (who played Mr. Kitzel), - Mel Blanc (the voice of Bugs Bunny, who often played Professor LeBlanc, Jack's violin teacher as well as many other roles).
Jack Benny moved into television slowly: - In his first season (1950-1951), he only performed 4 shows. - By the 1951-1952 season, Jack was ready to do 1 show approximately every 6 weeks. - In the third season (1952-1953), the show was broadcast every 4 weeks. - During the 1953-1954 season, The Jack Benny Program aired every 3 weeks. - From 1954-1960, the Benny programs aired every other week, rotating with such shows as Private Secretary and Bachelor Father. - Beginning in the 1960-1961 season, The Jack Benny Program began airing every week.
It is also worth noting that the show moved from CBS to NBC prior to the 1964-65 season.moreless