Talk:Robert Benchley

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Good article Robert Benchley has been listed as one of the Social sciences and society good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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Wasn't Robert Benchley cremated? I remember reading that in his biography. I guess it is possible the ashes were buried at the family plot.--Mantanmoreland 16:03, 12 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes he was cremated (according to Billy Altman bio). Would be good to add that... I assume his grandson Peter Benchley will also join him in the family plot, RIP. -- k72ndst 02:58, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Thanks. Just returned from a lengthy hiatus to see your comment. I will add, as my source for that actually was his son Nat's bio. I suppose two sources are good for this. --Mantanmoreland 18:35, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

I would like to offer another link for the Robert Benchley page: try to see information about a one-man show about R. B., as well as how to order a CD of his stories read by his actor grandson, Nat. Or for any other authoritative information on the subject.NRBench 22:30, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

I have made some changes to the biographical information (corrected "Greuning" to read "Gruening" replaced erroneous "September" month of Benchley's death with corrected "November." Someone has obviously relied heavily on the Altman biography of Benchley. That book "Laughter's Gentle Soul: The Life of Robert Benchley" is largely a reprise of previously published matter. However, it does have more detail about Benchley's Hollywood period than other biographies. Unfortunately, lack of proofreading and fact checking undermines the work. The Robert Benchley Society has published an errata sheet to the Altman book. That list of corrections is available on the Society's website and I urge anyone relying on the Altman book to verify against other sources and the RBS errata sheet. David Trumbull 17:59, 3 July 2007 (UTC)

Visit to Venice[edit]

The earliest sourced appearance of the Venice telegram quotation is "Streets full of water, Advise." As told by David Niven in the Saturday Evening Post, July 19, 1958, page 13. David Trumbull (talk) 16:37, 11 February 2013 (UTC)

Hmm, his walk of fame/interrment information shouldn't be under "film."

Upon Bob's first visit to Venice, he telegraphed his New York editor: "STREETS FILLED WITH WATER ADVISE". -HiFiGuy 16:33, 26 September 2006 (UTC)

Bibliography needed[edit]

This article cries out for a bibliography. --Silverscreen 15:25, 16 December 2006 (UTC)


Just a note to say that the other day I did a bit of cleanup, as can be seen from the history. This was a fine author of great consequence to modern literary history, and I hope that this article can be substantially expanded. There is a rich array of source material including several biographies. Also this article really cries out for a full bibliography. --Silverscreen 15:32, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

I'm working on compiling some stuff as we speak. I'm currently knee-deep in another article project, but this is next on my list. --badlydrawnjeff talk 15:56, 27 December 2006 (UTC)
Same here, and will help out when I can. I have a bio of Benchley somewhere in the house.--Silverscreen 17:13, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

Current to-do list[edit]

If anyone can help:

  1. Public domain image of RB for identification in infobox. I may be able to fulfill this once I hear back from his grandson again.
  2. Completing List of Robert Benchley collections and film appearances.
  3. A better, more complete, copyedit.
  4. A worthwhile lead.

--badlydrawnjeff talk 03:57, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

GA comment[edit]

The article could use an infobox (look to similar passed GA/FAs for examples) and I saw one sentence that has a "citation needed" tag. That will have to be addressed, or someone may quick-fail the article. --Nehrams2020 18:10, 25 May 2007 (UTC)

Already settled, didn't notice it when I was doing my runthroughs. Infoboxes aren't really necessary in all cases, and I'm not sure that this article really needs it, but we didn't have images before that. --badlydrawnjeff talk 18:41, 25 May 2007 (UTC)
No it couldn't use an infobox. Infoboxes are useful for distinguishing among the apparently homogenous (such as Japanese aidoru tarento; consider this for example. Anyone who insists that a GA bio (such as Hiroh Kikai) or an FA bio (e.g. W. B. Yeats) needs an infobox [I always think of these people as male] may need larting, I mean reeducating. -- Hoary 05:00, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Hoary's notes[edit]

There are three that I didn't address yet, I have more questions about them:

  • In the biography section, the part about his mother is questioned. It's shown up in three of the four books I've used, so it's clearly of some importance, but I'm not sure what you're asking here.
  • In the Wodehouse/Vanity Fair secion, I agree that something's odd, but i can't quite figure out what.
  • In the humor style area, I'm also not sure what the question is here.

Thanks for everything so far. --badlydrawnjeff talk 13:12, 26 May 2007 (UTC)

Heh heh. I had lots of more pressing things to do today, so I ignored them all and looked at Benchley instead. Your questions:
  • Robert's older brother, Edmund Benchley, was thirteen years older, and died in 1898 in the Spanish-American War, when Robert was only nine. Upon learning of Edmund's death, Maria Benchley was believed to have cried out "Why couldn't it have been Robert?!" This event had a considerable impact on Robert's life, as his later writings would show a distinct pacifist leanings.
    • If you take out the sentence that I've italicized, the resulting paragraph makes perfect sense. If you leave it in, then "That event" becomes odd until the ambiguity is resolved by "pacifist leanings"; however, when this happens I for one think, "So, er, what effect did his mother's remark have on him, then?" (Yes: believed by whom? By Robert? Then say so. Not? Then does it matter? Etc.)
      • I see. How should I reorder it? Should I just say "Edmund's death had a considerable impact..." instead?
        • First decide what you want to say about the remark attributed to his mother. If you don't want to say anything about it, cut it, and make the edit that you've just suggested. -- Hoary 12:28, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
          • Well, I think it deserves a mention, given how often it popped up. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:35, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
  • Benchley filled in for P. G. Wodehouse at Vanity Fair at the beginning of 1916, reviewing theatre in New York. The experience at Vanity Fair inspired Benchley's fellow staff at the Tribune magazine on further unique topics for articles (such as Benchley playing a corpse during a production of The Thirteenth Chair), but ...
    • OK down to and including "at the Tribune magazine". The next word comes as a minor start, because you normally inspire people to do something. Then it gets really bizarre. Does it perhaps mean that an actual production of The Thirteenth Chair had no corpse but that a Tribune drama critic invented a corpse and had Benchley "play" it? Or something utterly different?
      • If I remove it, the question will then become "what unique topics." How do you suggest fixing?
        • I'm sorry but I can't suggest anything, because I still don't understand what happened. -- Hoary 12:28, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
          • Ohhhh. Essentially, the plays he reviewed gave ideas for features and such. After seeing one play, they were able to get Benchley in one of them playing a corpse so he could write about it. That was the example given. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:35, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
  • This [sc. Benchley's] character, labeled the "Little Man" and in some ways similar to many of Twain's protagonists, was based on Benchley himself in form and function; he did not persist in Benchley's writing past the early 1930s, but survived in his speaking and acting roles.
    • I suppose that "in function" means either "in what he did" or "in the effect he had on people". I took "in form" to mean "in appearance". If so, this means that the characters Benchley played look like Benchley. Yet it's so normal for an character in a film to look like the actor playing him that I doubt that his is what you mean here. -- Hoary 16:22, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
      • Okay. I think the almost identical nature between Benchley and his character is what I'm trying to get across here - the character is simply an exaggerated version of the man playing him. I suppose it isn't clear if you're asking about it, though. --badlydrawnjeff talk 18:09, 26 May 2007 (UTC)
        • What if you just removed "in form and function"? -- Hoary 12:28, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
          • Well, that makes sense. A good "duh" moment. Done. --badlydrawnjeff talk 12:35, 27 May 2007 (UTC)
  • And both those fixes seem to make it work nicely. Thanks! --badlydrawnjeff talk 13:54, 27 May 2007 (UTC)

Round Two[edit]

I used most of your suggestions, Hoary. The one about "an academic failure," however, should stay put as the failure is singular. That's my thought process, at least. --badlydrawnjeff talk 00:45, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Foreign Correspondent Appearance[edit]

Benchley had a supporting role in and was a co-writer of Alfred Hitchcock's film Foreign Correspondent. I should think that an appearance and contribution in a Hitchcock movie would warrant a mention in this article. Green451 19:11, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Somewhat surprisingly, it doesn't get much narrative mention. I do note it in the list subpage, however. --badlydrawnjeff talk 19:24, 28 May 2007 (UTC)

Good Artcile[edit]

I just reviewed this article and accepted it as a Good Article (easily met all criteria in my opinion). Well done everyone. Tomgreeny 02:55, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Thanks! --badlydrawnjeff talk 02:57, 1 June 2007 (UTC)


This article is really excellent, and kudos need to be extended to Badlydrawnjeff for his work on it. One suggestion is that it really needs photos. The photo in the information box is far too dark. There are many good photos of Benchley taken from screen shots of his movies and/or publicity photos. Can't one of them be used?--Silverscreen 14:56, 16 June 2007 (UTC)

Lacking Flavor[edit]

It's interesting that this article doesn't even mention several huge aspects of his life. First, that his relationship with Dorothy Parker was extremely tight, to a degree that Benchley's wife was jealous and resentful their entire lives. Whether they were ever romantically involved is up for debate, but their friendship was a rare fine one and was a defining facet of their lives until the '30s. Second, Benchley was a notorious teetotaler -- this, during prohibition, when illegal drinking defined the NY social life he was part of. When he was finally persuaded to try a drink, it changed his life. He became a notorious alcoholic, and essentially died of cirrhosis. Finally, despite marrying his childhood sweetheart and having the image of the devoted suburban family man, he was as famous for his series of mistresses and affairs as he was for his humor; no less than Tallulah Bankhead was one such affair. Once he started performing on Broadway, he essentially started living apart from his family in NYC while they stayed ensconced in the suburbs. He was always broke, always borrowing money, living hand-to-mouth as many of the Algonquin set did -- first from being a poor underpaid writer, later from being a spendthrift. As he started down this path around the time of No Sirree, Benchley's life changed dramatically. He was simultaneously the charachter he developed -- sweet, slightly befuddled, hyper-normal -- AND its opposite. He was a much more interesting, complicated person than this article implies. While I realize this is an encylopedia article and not a biography, it seems that something besides a dry chronology and a few quotations would be in order. You may ask why I don't edit the article myself ... well, I would, except that my books are currently packed up and in storage, so I could not provide citations! I'm hoping someone else will be able to pick up the gauntlet and fill in these gaps. 03:49, 23 June 2007 (UTC)funnie

That's all very interesting and you should add those details with proper sourcing.--Silverscreen 17:40, 26 June 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Silverscreen, if there are sources cited, and if the info is not trivia and speculation. K72ndst 14:11, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Sacco and Vanzetti[edit]

AND - where is the story of Robert Benchley's experience at a Massachusetts social party, when trial judge Webster Thayer - in his cups - stated he was "going to get those bastards". Robert knew this was grounds for his dismissal from the case, and tried to get authorities to do so. Thayer had enough clout to get away with this, and continue to preside - over two trials. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:08, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

Info box[edit]

Today I switched from the generic person info box to a writer box. I'd like to see someone add in the writers who influenced Benchley; I only added in the names of writers who cite him as influencing them. K72ndst 14:11, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Algonquin Round Table proposal at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals, please vote![edit]

The focus of the project would be articles relating to the Algonquin Round Table, including its members and their literary works.
Interested Wikipedians (please add your name)
  1. Otto4711 17:42, 7 September 2007 (UTC)
  2. Chris 06:09, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

Wow, a project of depth, thought and lasting impact! Most cool, I'm in! Chris 06:09, 8 September 2007 (UTC)

GA Sweeps[edit]

This article has been reviewed as part of Wikipedia:WikiProject Good articles/Project quality task force. I believe the article currently meets the criteria and should remain listed as a Good article. The article history has been updated to reflect this review. Lampman (talk) 23:59, 8 November 2008 (UTC)

Robert Benchley and Lillian Duryea[edit]

Article quote: "There is no evidence to support speculation that Lillian had an inappropriate relationship with Robert."

This is gallant laundering of history, and bullshit up with which I, for one, am not going to put. Nor will I hit on bait from anyone to "prove it". Persons who refuse to believe the Himalayan, biographical, circumstantial evidence of Benchley-Duryea sexual congress have erected a mental rampart that could not be breached even by 1) documentary film of the two copulating, nor 2) hand written correspondence describing each other's genitalia. So, forget that sneering challenge.

Rather, let's create a list on this Discussion Page of wealthy debutantes, widowed during their status as a fiance who - rather than getting on with their lives and dating wealthy older men as candidates for marriage - in stead adopted their deceased lover's younger brother as a teenage mascot - household member, plus functioning as a tuition machine to Exeter and Harvard. Surely, there must be a whole bunch of them.

Lillian Duryea RUINED the future, adult sex life of Robert Benchley, his eventual marriage, and his relationship to women generally. About the only woman to whom Benchley could relate with sexual honesty was the brilliant but often suicidal Dorothy Parker.

Signed: Edward M. Chilton, Benchley Society —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:07, 31 December 2010 (UTC)

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle (1994)[edit]

Campbell Scott potrays Benchley in this film about Dorothy Parker. MBG (talk) 11:55, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

Florid language[edit]

"...who husbanded Robert to manhood and live-in paramour status before he had even finished high school."

I'm guessing she fucked him, right? AuntFlo (talk) 05:22, 16 September 2011 (UTC)

"Buckle my shoe"[edit]

The correct quote is "One, two, three / Buckle my shoe." The page leaves out "three," which is crucial to the dry humor of the quote. I'll fix this as soon as I can find a proper reference. Doug Ewell 15:24, 30 January 2013 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by DougEwell (talkcontribs)