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. Jack bought the car second-hand from a dealer called the Smiling Pilgrim.
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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 fell off!”
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. License numbers seen through the years included 4X-88-61 (from a Feb. 1938 publicity photo), 269523, PU8054 and 12S9523.
Mel Blanc 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 BUGGY/Mel Blanc 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 BUGGY/CBS/1973-74.