Robert Benchley

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Robert Benchley (1889-1945) was an American humorist and actor. His works include Love Conquers All (1922), My Ten Years in a Quandary (1936), and Benchley Beside Himself (1943).[1] He is best remembered for a single quote:

Opera is when a man gets stabbed in the back, and, instead of bleeding, sings.
--Robert Benchley


Benchley was born September 15, 1889, into a superficially tragic childhood in the 1890s of bee stings and cuts, though it was truly darkened by the death of his brother Edmund in the Spanish-American War.[2] He attended Harvard University, where he wrote for the Harvard Lampoon, and later wrote several essays for the New Yorker.[3] He was their lead drama critic and wrote for the Wayward Press under the name Guy Fawkes before his monologue "The Treasurer's Report," introduced him to the revue and the cinema.[4] During the 1920s, he was a very popular humorist who wrote about daily struggles.[5] He also worked as an actor, receiving over 40 small roles in films including How to Sleep.[6] He considered himself, over all, a lazy man, and member of the Algonquin Club along with Dorothy Parker, Robert Sherwood, and Alexander Parker, a group also called the Vicious Circle.[7] Over time, his interested in writing decreased and he appeared more in films until his death on November 21, 1945.[8]


  1. The New York Public Library Student's Desk Reference. Prentice Hall, New York, 1993.
  3. "Benchley, Robert." The Famous People.
  4. "Benchley, Robert." Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
  5. "Robert Benchley." Infoplease.
  6. "Robert Benchley, Synopsis."
  7. Pietruza, David. "Robert Benchley: A Profile in Humor."
  8. "Benhcley, Robert." Your Dictionary.

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