Robert Benchley (September 15, 1889 - November 21, 1945)
Born: 15th September, 1889
Died: 21st November, 1945
Nationality: American
Profession/Occupation: Comedian
Region: Worcester, Massachusetts, New York City, New York
Notable works: William Hurt - Facts , Sean Penn - Facts , Blake Lively - Facts

Robert Benchley Facts

Biography

Robert Benchley, in full Robert Charles Benchley, (born Sept. 15, 1889, Worcester, Mass., U.S.--died Nov. 21, 1945, New York, N.Y.), American humorist, actor, and drama critic, whose main persona, that of a slightly confused, ineffectual, socially awkward bumbler, served in his essays and short films to gain him the sobriquet "the humorist's humorist." The character allowed him to comment brilliantly on the world's absurdities.

A graduate of Harvard University (1912), Benchley held a variety of jobs in New York City before becoming managing editor of Vanity Fair in 1919. There he worked with Robert Sherwood and Dorothy Parker until January 1920, when both Sherwood and Benchley resigned to protest the firing of Parker. About this time Benchley, Parker, and other wits of the Algonquin Round Table--which its members referred to as the Vicious Circle--began their celebrated lunchtime meetings at Manhattan's Algonquin Hotel. In April 1920 Benchley joined the staff of Life magazine as drama critic (1920-29). During this period he published his first collection of essays, Of All Things! (1921), and became a regular contributor to The New Yorker (1925). He was drama critic for The New Yorker from 1929 to 1940 and wrote its "The Wayward Press" column (under the pseudonym Guy Fawkes).

His monologue "The Treasurer's Report," initially delivered as a skit in an amateur revue for the Algonquin group in 1922, was the basis for one of the first all-talking cinema short subjects. He subsequently acted in and sometimes wrote motion-picture short subjects--The Sex Life of a Polyp (1928), Stewed, Fried, and Boiled (1929), How to Sleep (1935; Academy Award for best live-action short film), The Romance of Digestion (1937), and The Courtship of the Newt (1938)--among them. In all, he made more than 40 short subjects and appeared in minor roles and a few supporting roles in some 50 feature films. He often played a confused, annoyed, and mildly sarcastic drunk. It was a role that suited him. He once said, "I know I'm drinking myself to a slow death, but then I'm in no hurry"; he died of cirrhosis of the liver.

Although films and radio brought Benchley wide public acclaim, his writings probably constitute his most lasting achievement. His essays are collected in 15 books and illustrated with Gluyas Williams's superb caricatures; the books include Pluck and Luck (1925), The Early Worm (1927), My Ten Years in a Quandary, and How They Grew (1936), and Benchley Beside Himself (1943). As he grew older, however, his whimsical, even absurd humour became increasingly at odds with his darker vision of the world. Many critics consider his early writing his best, and he himself said in 1943, "It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous." Nevertheless, his best writing revealed a "humanity, tolerance, and wisdom" (in the words of Donald Ogden Stewart) that were virtually unsurpassed. In addition to Stewart, Benchley's admirers included humorists E.B. White and James Thurber. The Benchley Roundup (1954), edited by his son Nathaniel, is a selection from his writings, as are The Reel Benchley: Robert Benchley at His Hilarious Best in Words and Pictures (1950), with an introduction by film executive and songwriter Howard Dietz, and The Best of Robert Benchley (1983, reissued 1995).

Top 37 Robert Benchley quotes

We call ourselves a free nation, and yet we let ourselves be told what cabs we can and can't take by a man at a hotel door, simply because he has a drum major's uniform on.
Because
Call
Door
Drum
Free
He
Hotel
Major
Man
Nation
Ourselves
Simply
Take
Uniform
If Mr. Einstein doesn't like the natural laws of the universe, let him go back to where he came from.
Back
Came
Einstein
Go
He
Him
Laws
Like
Mr
Natural
Natural laws
Universe
Where
I have tried to know absolutely nothing about a great many things, and I have succeeded fairly well.
About
Absolutely
Absolutely nothing
Fairly
Great
Know
Many
Nothing
Succeeded
Things
Tried
Well
A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
Around
Before
Boy
Dog
Down
Fidelity
Lying
Perseverance
Teaches
Three
Times
Turn
Tell us your phobias and we will tell you what you are afraid of.
Afraid
Phobias
Tell
Us
Will
You
Your
For a nation which has an almost evil reputation for bustle, bustle, bustle, and rush, rush, rush, we spend an enormous amount of time standing around in line in front of windows, just waiting.
Almost
Amount
Around
Enormous
Evil
Front
Just
Line
Nation
Reputation
Rush
Spend
Standing
Time
It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
Because
Discover
Famous
Fifteen
Give
Had
Me
No talent
Talent
Time
Too
Took
Up
Writing
An ardent supporter of the hometown team should go to a game prepared to take offense, no matter what happens.
Ardent
Game
Go
Happens
Hometown
Matter
Offense
Prepared
Should
Supporter
Take
Team
Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with that it's compounding a felony.
Begin
Drinking
Fools
Makes
People
Why don't you get out of that wet coat and into a dry martini?
Coat
Dry
Get
Martini
Out
Wet
Why
You
In America there are two classes of travel - first class, and with children.
America
Children
Class
Classes
First
First class
Travel
Two
Drawing on my fine command of the English language, I said nothing.
Command
Drawing
English
English language
Fine
Language
Nothing
Said
I do most of my work sitting down; that's where I shine.
Down
Most
Shine
Sitting
Where
Work
A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.
Around
Before
Boy
Dog
Down
Importance
Learn
Lot
Loyalty
Lying
Obedience
Three
Times
Turning
I know I'm drinking myself to a slow death, but then I'm in no hurry.
Death
Drinking
Hurry
Know
Myself
Slow
Then
The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.
Him
Make
Man
Monkey
Surest
Surest way
Way
The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.
Biggest
Biggest obstacle
Changing
Necessity
Obstacle
Professional
Ribbon
Typewriter
Writing
The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
Freelance
Man
Paid
Per
Perhaps
Piece
Who
Word
Writer
Dachshunds are ideal dogs for small children, as they are already stretched and pulled to such a length that the child cannot do much harm one way or the other.
Cannot
Child
Children
Dogs
Harm
Ideal
Length
Much
One-way
Other
Pulled
Small
Small children
Stretched
Even nowadays a man can't step up and kill a woman without feeling just a bit unchivalrous.
Bit
Even
Feeling
Just
Man
Nowadays
Step
Up
Without
Woman
Opera is where a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of dying, he sings.
Back
Dying
Gets
Guy
He
Instead
Opera
Sings
Where
A great many people have come up to me and asked how I manage to get so much work done and still keep looking so dissipated.
Asked
Come
Done
Get
Great
How
Keep
Looking
Manage
Many
Me
Much
People
Still
Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed be doing at that moment.
Amount
Any
Anyone
Doing
He
Moment
Provided
Supposed
Work
I have been told by hospital authorities that more copies of my works are left behind by departing patients than those of any other author.
Any
Author
Authorities
Been
Behind
Copies
Departing
Hospital
Left
More
Other
Patients
Than
Those
Other men wear white suits in summer and it doesn't seem to bother them. But my white suit seems to be a little whiter than theirs. I think also that it may have something written on the back of it, although I can't find it when I take the suit off.
Also
Although
Back
Bother
Find
I think
Little
May
Men
Off
Other
Seem
Seems
Something
Great literature must spring from an upheaval in the author's soul. If that upheaval is not present then it must come from the works of any other author which happens to be handy and easily adapted.
Adapted
Any
Author
Come
Easily
Great
Great literature
Handy
Happens
Literature
Must
Other
Present
Soul
We are constantly being surprised that people did things well before we were born.
Before
Being
Born
Constantly
Did
People
Surprised
Things
Well
Were
There seems to be no lengths to which humorless people will not go to analyze humor. It seems to worry them.
Analyze
Go
Humor
People
Seems
Them
Which
Will
Worry
A real hangover is nothing to try out family remedies on. The only cure for a real hangover is death.
Cure
Death
Family
Hangover
Nothing
Only
Out
Real
Remedies
Try
In a house where there are small children the bathroom soon takes on the appearance of the Old Curiosity Shop.
Appearance
Bathroom
Children
Curiosity
House
Old
Shop
Small
Small children
Soon
Takes
Where
After an author has been dead for some time, it becomes increasingly difficult for his publishers to get a new book out of him each year.
After
Author
Becomes
Been
Book
Dead
Difficult
Each
Each year
Get
Has-been
Him
His
Increasingly
Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about.
About
Am
Argument
Being
Fact
Fall
I am
Impressive
Knows
Most
Neither
Nor
Opponent
Owing
You might think that after thousands of years of coming up too soon and getting frozen, the crocus family would have had a little sense knocked into it.
After
Coming
Family
Frozen
Getting
Had
Knocked
Little
Might
Sense
Soon
Think
Thousands
Thousands of years
Anyone who tries to keep track of what is happening in China is going to end up by wearing all the skin of his left ear from twirling around on it.
Anyone
Around
China
Ear
End
Going
Happening
His
Keep
Left
Skin
Track
Tries
Up
Nothing makes a man feel older than to hear a band coming up the street and not to have the impulse to rush downstairs and out on to the sidewalk.
Band
Coming
Downstairs
Feel
Hear
Impulse
Makes
Man
Nothing
Older
Out
Rush
Sidewalk
Street
At fifteen one is first beginning to realize that everything isn't money and power in this world, and is casting about for joys that do not turn to dross in one's hands.
About
Beginning
Casting
Everything
Fifteen
First
Hands
Joys
Money
Power
Realize
Turn
World
There is a note in the front of the volume saying that no public reading may be given without first getting the author's permission. It ought to be made much more difficult to do than that.
Author
Difficult
First
Front
Getting
Given
Made
May
More
Much
Note
Ought
Permission
Public

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