Jack Benny dies of pancreatic cancer in Los Angeles, 1974. The former vaudeville star achieved his greatest success on radio and television; in the context of film history, he is best known for the Ernst Lubitsch comedy To Be or Not To Be (1942), starring Benny and Carole Lombard as a couple of ham actors who, along with their theatrical troupe, outwit the Nazis in wartime Poland. The shoot went well, prompting Lombard to call it the happiest experience of her career. The movie’s release in February of 1942, however, was colored with tragic incidents and bad timing. Pearl Harbor had recently been attacked, Germany was making its sweep across Europe and Lombard was killed in a plane crash while on a war bond drive. The movie opened to cool critical reception, and audiences, not in a laughing mood, stayed away. Even Benny’s father had problems, missing the humor of the piece and walking out in a huff after seeing his son in a Nazi uniform. Years later, audiences and critics embraced the picture as a classic. Even the elder Benny, after Jack assured him of its satirical tone, grew to love the film.