Jack Benny’s Will Sent Roses Posthumously to His Wife
At the time of his death in December 1974 at age 80, comedian Jack Benny had been married to his wife Mary Livingstone for 48 years.
The two celebrated a long marriage by any standard, but especially so for a Hollywood marriage.
Now, the marriage was not without its flaws. Benny was known to be a serial adulterer and Livingstone was reported to be sharply spoken with her husband and apt to get physically violent at times.
It is not known whose behavior provoked the other’s. Regardless, at some level they both loved one another and Benny, who was known to meticulously plan ahead, made arrangements in his will to send reminders of his love to his wife after his death.
His will stipulated that Livingstone was to receive a single red rose, symbolic of love & devotion, on the day following the anniversary of his passing away and that the practice would continue until the death of his spouse.
As it turns out, Livingstone would receive eight such roses, the last being in December 1982; she died the following June of a heart attack. At the time, Livingstone had just recently spent a “girl’s day” getting a mani & pedi with then first lady Nancy Reagan.
Monroe passed away on August 4, 1962. She was only thirty-six. Strasberg passed away in 1982 and left all of Monroe’s belongings to his third wife, Anna Mizrahi Strasberg. Strasberg’s widow had never known Monroe and later auctioned off all of the star’s possessions in October of 1999.
All of her things went for $13.4 million and included a gold Magnavox television, her wedding ring from Joe DiMaggio and the infamous pearl necklace.
Monroe’s original will not only left everything she owned to her mentor, but she also left him rather specific instructions regarding her property and what he was to do with it. She specified for Strasberg to “distribute these, in his sole discretion, among my friends, colleagues and those to whom I am devoted.” Unfortunately, he put everything into storage where it all remained until it fell into Anna Strasberg’s hands.