The Jack Benny Show

“The Jack Benny Show” ran from 1933 (except for a pilot in May of ‘32) until May of ‘55. One of his gimmicks was his exasperated “Welllllllllll.

But the Welles that concerns us here is Orson, who guested on radio program, The Jack Benny Show:
  • 3-17-40
  • 3-14-43
  • 3-21-43
  • 3-28-43
  • 4-11-43
In some cases, Welles interacted with Benny, while in others, he guest-hosted. He would play himself in sketches, or at least a version of himself, perhaps more a caricature than a persona.

He portrayed a prima dona and tyrant. In one sketch, he walked into a cafe and met an assistant to approve the script of that night’s The Jack Benny Show, but had to first order a guinea hen under glass and a bottle of expensive wine. When the soda jerk protested, Welles bellowed “get back under that counter.”

Late in his life, Welles waxed very analytical about his appearances on Benny: “I used to play Orson Welles all the time on Jack Benny...that’s the Orson Welles everyone thinks I am.” He continued by quipping, “the secretary used to atomize the microphone before I’d speak into it!”

Leaming, Barbara. Orson Welles. New York: Viking. 1983.


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