Mary Livingstone was the wife and former stage partner of comedian Jack Benny.
Born Sadye Marks in Seattle, Wash., she had moved with her family to Los Angeles and was selling women's hosiery at the May Co. store downtown in 1926, when a few words of conversation with a customer changed her life.
"He said his name was Jack Benny," she told an interviewer in later years, "and he didn't want to buy women's hoisery — which was a good sign.
"Then he said he was a professional comedian — which was a bad sign. Or, anyway, I thought so.
"But he kept smiling and insisting that I come to the Orpheum Theatre, and I finally agreed, and, well, a year later I was Sadye Benny..."
But not yet Mary Livingstone. That change was still in the future.
The director of Jack Benny's show asked her to keep her husband company on stage — to try it for just one show.
She did, and listener response via letters and telephone calls was so unusual that "Mary Livingstone" became a continuing role. She changed her name legally to "Mary Livingstone" in 1949.
As the years passed, however, her interest in her onstage career waned.
She appeared without Jack in one film, "This Way, Please," in 1937.
She was on "best-dressed" lists for several years, but admitted she preferred the role of wife and mother to the constant round of show production. Livingstone died at age 77 in 1983.