Benny Rubin

Active - 1929 - 1978  |   Born - Feb 2, 1899   |   Died - Jul 15, 1986   |   Genres - Comedy, Musical, Drama, Romance

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Benny Rubin inaugurated his career as a 14-year-old tap dancer in his hometown of Boston. He worked in stock and on showboats during the WWI years, breaking into burlesque as a dialect comedian in 1918. A vaudeville headliner throughout the 1920s, Rubin seemed a sure bet for movie stardom when he was signed by MGM in 1927. According to one source, however, the powers-that-be decided that Rubin looked "too Jewish" for movies. Nonetheless, he entered films during the talking era, starring in a brace of Tiffany Studios musicals -- Sunny Skies and Hot Curves, both filmed in 1930 -- before freelancing as a character actor. Though he was top-billed in a handful of two-reelers and was given prominent screen credit as one the scenarists for the Wheeler and Woolsey films Off Again -- On Again (1937) and High Flyers (1937), Rubin had to settle for bits and minor roles as a feature-film actor. He would later claim that his fall from grace was due to his bad temper and his chronic gambling. Far more successful on radio, Rubin became one of the most prominent members of Jack Benny's "stock company," usually playing an obnoxious information desk attendant ("I dunno! I dunno! I dunno!). During the 1950s and 1960s, Rubin worked steadily in TV programs, feature films, and two-reel comedies; he also worked in animated cartoons and TV commercials as a voice-over artist, truthfully proclaiming that he could convincingly convey any foreign accent -- "except Arabian." In 1973, Rubin produced a self-published, self-serving autobiography, Come Backstage With Me, in which he made innumerable specious claims about his show biz accomplishments; for example, he stated that it was he who advised fledging film director Orson Welles to hire cameraman Gregg Toland for the 1941 classic Citizen Kane (in truth, Rubin's contribution to the film was confined to a one-scene bit as a typesetter, which was cut from the final release print). Benny Rubin's final appearance was in the TV miniseries Glitter.

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