Robert Benchley

Humorist, Author

1889 – 1945


Who was Robert Benchley?

Robert Charles Benchley was an American humorist best known for his work as a newspaper columnist and film actor. From his beginnings at the Harvard Lampoon while attending Harvard University, through his many years writing essays and articles for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, and his acclaimed short films, Benchley's style of humor brought him respect and success during his life, from New York City and his peers at the Algonquin Round Table to contemporaries in the burgeoning film industry.

Benchley is best remembered for his contributions to The New Yorker, where his essays, whether topical or absurdist, influenced many modern humorists. He also made a name for himself in Hollywood, when his short film How to Sleep was a popular success and won Best Short Subject at the 1935 Academy Awards, and his many memorable appearances in films such as Alfred Hitchcock's Foreign Correspondent and a dramatic turn in Nice Girl?. His legacy includes written work and numerous short film appearances.

Famous Quotes:

  • Most of the arguments to which I am party fall somewhat short of being impressive, knowing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent knows what we are talking about
  • A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
  • In America there are two classes of travel - first class, and with children.
  • I have tried to know absolutely nothing about a great many things, and I have succeeded fairly well.
  • The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
  • The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him.
  • 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.
  • The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.
  • Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn't the work he is supposed to be doing at the moment.
  • Except for an occasional heart attack I feel as young as I ever did.

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Sep 15, 1889
Also known as
  • Robert Charles Benchley
  • Bob Benchley
  • Brighton Perry
  • Bob
  • Guy Fawkes
  • United States of America
  • Harvard University
Lived in
  • Worcester
  • New York City
Nov 21, 1945
New York City
Resting place
Prospect Hill Cemetery

on July 23, 2013


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