Jack Benny's Maxwell -
An antique 1923 Maxwell automobile
owned by Jack Benny, the "Cheapest Man in the World" was used as a
running gag on both radio (first appeared in 1937) and later on
his TV comedy series THE JACK BENNY SHOW/CBS/1950-64. Jack
insisted that he could always get a few more miles out of his beat
up jalopy. But for all of his tinkering, the car usually drove for
about 15 minutes at which time the radiator boiled over, forcing
Jack to wait for the engine to cool down before moving along.
bought the car second-hand from a dealer called the Smiling
Once Jack saw his servant Rochester (Eddie Anderson)
daintily sponging down the car. "For Heaven sake, Jack yelled "Why
don't you use the garden hose on it?" Rochester answered, "Don't
you remember the last time I used the hose on it, Boss? The fender
When the car's engine started on the radio program, the listening
audience heard the rich asthmatic, wheezing and clinking
mechanical sounds of an ancient automobile engine that was
reluctant to start.
Mel Blanc, (a.k.a. "the Man with a Thousand
Voices"). first supplied the engine noises when the sound
technician's machine failed on the air. Blanc's "P-tui, p-tui,
b-lit, b-lit, p-tui" sputtering and chattering saved the skit.
Jack Benny loved his impersonation of a rattletrap, coughing
engine so much that he replaced the sound technicians with the
talents of Mel Blanc.
The black 1923 Maxwell convertible spoken of
in Jack Benny's act is now on display at the Harrah National Auto
Museum located at 10 Lake Street South in Reno, Nevada.
numbers seen through the years included 4X-88-61 (from a Feb. 1938
publicity photo), 269523, PU8054 and 12S9523.
resurrected the sounds of his sputtering Maxwell auto when he
performed the voice of a remote-control vehicle that talked to
three adventurous teenagers on the animated cartoon SPEED
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