Tuesday, April 12, 2011

J: Jack Benny

The next time you’re walking along the west side of the Cache Bank and Trust at the SE corner of College and Mountain Avenues, look down. Right next to the base of the wall is a plaque commemorating the City of Fort Collins Centennial in 1964. In the cement are the handprints of then-mayor Harvey Johnson, then-CSU president William Morgan, and comedian Jack Benny. (The Lost Fort Collins Blog casts doubt over whether it’s Benny’s handprint, but I won’t go into that.)







By the 1960s, Jack Benny had already been in showbiz for 30 years, and I wanted to know what brought him here. I couldn’t find much online, so I made my first trip to the Local History Archive at the Fort Collins Museum. There, super helpful and friendly Research Assistant Jayne Hansen found Benny’s biographical file. It had a grand total of two sheets of paper in it. One was a photocopy of the plaque. The other was exactly what I was hoping for: a copy of a newspaper article (no paper name or byline, but I assume it was the Coloradoan) about Benny’s visits to Fort Collins.

According to the article, Benny first came here in 1962 for the opening of the Columbia Savings and Loan (the original bank at that location). That was when he left the handprint. Apparently, Benny was a “personal friend of Jules Stein, president of MCA, Columbia’s parent corporation.” Benny opened the first savings account at the Fort Collins branch and autographed the savings books of the next 500 people who did likewise.


Benny returned to Fort Collins for the centennial in 1964, and “city fathers took advantage of his visit to proclaim Jack Benny Day, July 1, 1964.” They must have added the names and dates to the cement then.

So, there you have it. Thanks again, Jayne.

4 comments:

Jingle said...

it takes commitment to be where he is.

superb take on J.

Cathy Webster (Olliffe) said...

That was really, really interesting! Aren't you lucky to have Jack Benny's handprint in your town! Seriously jealous...

April Moore said...

Wow--another little known fact about this town I grew up in and never knew! Very interesting. :)

Jenny said...

The handprints are fun to see. I'm sorry my picture didn't turn out better.