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Walt Disney And Jack Benny, 1965 – In Living Color!

On his discussion thread at WDWMagic, Eddie Sotto posted a link to this video from 1965’s The Jack Benny Hour. In an attempt to take his entire studio audience to Disneyland, the notoriously stingy Benny heads to Walt’s office to hit him up for some free tickets. There’s an animatronic bird, a tiger, and much wackiness. And if that doesn’t sell you, there’s 1965-era Elke Sommer. So, that.

The first thing that always jumps out to me is what a natural “ham” Walt is; as a child he always wanted to be an actor, and he might have actually been a pretty good one. He has the Midwest-deadpan thing going for him, but his timing is really quite good – in fact, he’s better than Benny, who admittedly I’ve never “gotten”. Benny hams it up and plays to the camera, but Walt manages to hit the right notes perfectly.

You have to love how smooth Walt is at promotion. He stages the bit so that it starts with product placement for the then-upcoming That Darn Cat – “The title of the picture is important! You gotta punch it!” You sure do, Walt! Well played. He also drops Mary Poppins in there. And while he doesn’t like to talk about the charity work that Disneyland does, he apparently does keep huge bricks of tickets in his desk just in case!

Just another day at the studio, I suppose. No wonder kids of this era thought Walt was just this side of Santa Claus – he hangs out in his huge office with magical birds, tigers roaming the halls, and deskfulls of free Disneyland tickets. What a life!

While Benny managed to make out like a bandit on this visit, Walt had managed to get some money out of him previously; when Walt’s Celebrity Sports Center opened near Denver in 1960, one of its investors was the tightfisted Benny.

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6 comments to Walt Disney And Jack Benny, 1965 – In Living Color!

  • This is exceptionally charming. Walt’s reactions are terrific. I love the bird’s “he’s living in the wonderful world of Benny” line. Haha.

  • philphoggs

    Holy Crap Benny looks like Eisner at 5.45! nooooooo

  • RO93461

    I laugh every time. Who wrote it? Marty Sklar? He knew that Disney did not publicize charity stuff. Jack Benny has amazing timing and imagine Walt being your straight man. I like when he talks “baby talk” to “Ezmeralllllllllda”. You know he talked to his pets that way. Funny stuff.

  • Jack Benny was always in character when working. You never got to see the real man instead of the actor/comedian because he kept that aspect of himself private and out of the public eye. He was well known for his donations to charities of all types; the stinginess and tightwad lines were part of his schtick.

    Carol Burnett spoke of his timing and determination to remain in character by pointing out the time when they shared a scene in front of a live television audience. During this scene Benny was dressed as Tarzan and carol as Jane. Benny swung into the scene on a hanging vine and sliced his hand open on landing. He shielded his bloody hand from the audience and finished the scene in one take without even Carol knowing of his injury.

    Benny was comedy and he didn’t need jokes to be hilarious. That takes talent and more importantly, it takes courage.

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