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Did Jack Benny own a Stradivarius?

Garth E.

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The “Benny” Strad, 1729.


Although he usually pretended to be terrible as part of his routine, he was an accomplished player. That’s a lot of the reason he was so good at figuring out how to do just the right things to sound amateurish. He played a lot of charity concerts, and as I understand, would sometimes play normally. I think he was said to practice quite a lot as well. 

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Jack Benny was also a wonderful human being. I’m old enough to remember when he died, and I was really sad, even though I was only 12. Somewhere I was able to find some old radio shows of the Jack Benny program, and oh my god they were hilarious. It’s amazing to think that they were able to come up with great shows like that every week.

One of the episodes that I listen to was, “Jack tries to get a role in the Ford theater“ and the guest stars were Vincent Price and Claudette Colbert, and even today, when I think of that episode I fall down on the floor laughing.

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There are quite a few (hundreds actually) of his radio programs available for free at archive.org. Jack Benny at archive.org. I haven't listened to any of those, but I have enjoyed hours of "The Shadow", "Sherlock Holmes" and "Tales from Scotland Yard" through the same site. Amazingly they are all available for free. Fun stuff to listen to in the shop.

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The LA Phil has a few nice instruments, it seems.  Found this in a note on Martin Chalifour published in 2012:

In 2010 he began playing on the Ex Earl of Plymouth Ex Kreisler Stradivarius (1711) one of three Strad instruments owned by the LA Philharmonic. 

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