Jack E. Leonard
|Jack E. Leonard|
Leonard in 1959
April 24, 1910
|Died||May 10, 1973
New York City
As was the case with many rising comics in the 1950s, his exposure on The Tonight Show hosted by Jack Paar put Leonard over the top. He became a busy performer on television and in nightclubs. He worked steadily in the big rooms of Las Vegas.
Leonard's comedic method was sarcastic and aggressive, creating an "insult humor" genre which anticipated Don Rickles. (Rickles's Friars' Club roast was emceed by Leonard, who introduced Rickles as "a man who's been doing my act for about 12 years now.") A trademark line, after taking off his hat to reveal his bald head: "What did you expect, feathers?" He also referenced his weight problem in his act. Leonard's strong and unapologetic on-stage personality ("Good evening, opponents!") belied a gentle and giving spirit that would occasionally be revealed in his act when he would sing a sentimental song.
He wore a distinctive outfit: a dark suit, purposely two sizes too small, a white narrow-brimmed hat, and horn-rimmed glasses. On one variety show, Leonard's contemporaneous popularity was demonstrated when a lookalike came onstage and did a Leonard-like schtick. Then Leonard himself walked onstage and addressed his doppelgänger: "You've got a great future, son... but not in this business!"
Leonard made occasional recordings and motion pictures in addition to his many television appearances.
- Rock and Roll for Kids Over Sixteen (1957) Vik LX-1080 mono
- How to Lose Weight with Fat Jack (1964)
- Scream on Someone You Love Today (1967)
- Three Sailors and a Girl (1953)
- The Disorderly Orderly (1964)
- The Dictator's Guns (1965)
- The Fat Spy (1966)
- Target: Harry (1969)
- Journey Back to Oz (1972)
- Leonard narrated the theatrical release The World of Abbott and Costello, which was not a documentary but a compilation film consisting entirely of clips from Abbott and Costello movies.
- Obituary Variety, May 16, 1973.