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Grant number: FA-57271-13

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Kathryn H. Fuller-Seeley
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA 30303-2538)

Jack Benny and Radio Comedy in American Culture, 1932-1955

Comedian Jack Benny mattered enormously to 20th-century American culture--he taught us how to live in the endlessly compromised world of consumer culture. Jack Benny’s character (the ultimate Fall Guy; the vain, cheap Everyman; your family’s hapless Uncle) suffered all the indignities of the powerless patriarch in modern society--fractious workplace family, battles with obnoxious sales clerks, guff from his servant, and withering disrespect from his boss/sponsor, all women in general, and the leaders of Hollywood society. From the hard times of the Depression, through the pinched war years, to 1950s’ prosperity, Benny’s schemes to avoid spending money collapsed like his dignity, week after week, as his inflated ego was punctured by fate, abetted by his unruly staff. Benny could only dissolve into raging tantrums and injured sighs. Thirty million Americans laughed at him, and with him, each week for more than three decades as he sardonically skewered American cultural foibles.

Project fields:
Film History and Criticism

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2013 – 12/31/2013