Friday, September 5, 2008
Perhaps no entertainer is better known than the beloved Jack Benny (1894-1974), who, as he loved to say, was born in Waukegan a “long, long, long time ago.”
Actually, Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky in a Chicago hospital to Waukegan residents Emma Sachs and Meyer Kubelsky. He first performed as a violinist when he was only eight at the Waukegan Phoenix Opera House. His mother fretted that “without practicing, he’ll be a nothing.” Though Benny loved the violin, he hated to practice. He was a daydreamer and after only one year of high school was thrown out of Waukegan Central High.
In 1911, Benny left home to perform in a vaudeville act with pianist, Cora Salisbury, and eventually gained recognition. After Benny became a star of radio, film, and television, he never forgot his hometown, often mentioning Waukegan in his act, and visited frequently.