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Bring The Honeymooners Home

And Away We Go

The Great One On The Big Screen

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Jackie Gleason CBS press photo circa 1964

About Jackie Gleason Jackie Gleason was born on February 26th, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York.into a poor family of Irish immigrants. His father, Herbert Gleason, was an insurance clerk who deserted the family when Jackie was only nine years of age. His mother, Mae Kelly Gleason, died when he was nineteen. Jackie's only brother, Clemence, was diagnosed with tuberculosis when Jackie was three. Je had no sister. Jackie Gleason, attended Public School 73, dropping out before age sixtee. Before Alice Kramden would make barbs about it, Jackie was a gigantic eater, obese, but nevertheless very good at sports, particularly boxing, bowling and football.

In his late teens, Jackie appeared in many church and school plays, and eventually won a local award for an original comedy routine. From there, Folly Theater Vaudeville. Note that many great television comedy stars, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Milton Berle, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, all started in vaudeville. Jackie's first professional gig was at The Four Corners, a tiny bar in suburban Singac, New Jersey. Jackie also worked in hotels and lounges in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

He married Genevieve Halford, a burlesque/vaudeville dancer; they had two daughters, Geraldine and Linda, the only children Jackie ever fathered, despite rumors. After several separations, Jackie and Genevieve Gleason parted 1954, divorced win 1970. In 1941.

Jack Warner signed Gleason to a Hollywood contract at his studio/ His early movies unsuccessful, Warner Brothers claimed alcoholism as the excuse to break the contract.

After failing in Hollywood, Jackie circulated around New York and Florida. Depressed, Jackie returned to nightclubs. His agent, George Durgom suggested he work in television. He was cast in the title role of Chester A Riley (prior to William Benduix) "The Life of Riley," co-starring Rosemary De Camp (replaced by Marjorie Reynolds as Peg)/ The series with Jackie as Riley failed and Jackie was ousted by the network, CBS, that would woo him back from the ailing Dumont.
Jackie Gleason's television career really began when he signed on with the DuMont network as the summer host of "Calvalcade of Stars." After two episodes, he was signed on as permanent host. It was on this show that Jackie created his most memorable characters, iRalph Kramden, of course; also The Poor Soul, Charlie Bracken the Loudmouth, Reginald Van Gleason the 3rd, and Joe the Bartender.

Dumont taking the financial gas pipe (despite Bishop Fulton J. Sheen beating out Milton Berle on Tuesday nights in the ratings), Jackie signed an exclusive contract with CBS as the host of "The Jackie Gleason Show." (later "American Scene Magazine")

In the 1955-1956 season, he took Ralph Kramden's "The Honeymooners" and made it into a weekly sitcom series for a season. Today, this is one of the most enduring sitcoms in Viacom syndication. Gleason continued to make several movies, including "The Hustler" which earned him an Oscar nomination, and "Requiem for a Heavyweight." In "The Hustler" Jackie performed all of his own pool shots for the camera. Gleason also made records, composing his own music even though he could not read music. In 1962 Jackie returned to television with "Jackie Gleason's American Scene Magizine," but the name was soon changed back to "The Jackie Gleason Show."

In July 1970 he married Beverly McKittrick, after the divorce from his first wife was finalized, but this second marriage ended 1974. The following year he married Marilyn Taylor, sister of June Taylor of the June Taylor Dancers (featured on his variety show). After working on a series of movies throughout the 80's,

Two attempts at reviving "The Honeymooners" failed. In the 70's, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph could not relocate to Florida, where Jackie was taping at Wometco's WTVJ. The audience spurned Shiela Macrae as Alice and Jane Kean as Trixie. In the 80's, Jackie returned to New York and ABC agreed to three hour long Honeymooner specials for ABC,. A politically correct revamp did not please Honeymooner enthusiasts who still wanted Ralph to smack Norton on the shoulder when Ed did something silly, they still wanted Ralph to clench his fist and threaten Alice with "Pow, right in the kisser." When the original shtick was ditched for new mores, the third revamp failed after three episodes were run on the ABC network, never repeated..

Jackie Gleason died June 24th, 1987, of colon cancer and liver disease.

Art Carney About Art Carney, born Arthur William Matthew, November, 1918 in Mount Vernon, New York, the youngest son of Helen (n�e Farrell) and Edward Michael Carney, who was a newspaper man and publicist.[1][2][3] His family was Irish American and Catholic.[4] He attended A B Davis High School.[5] Carney was drafted as an infantryman during World War II. During the Battle of Normandy, he was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Carney was married three times to two women: Jean Myers, from 1940 to 1965, and again from 1980 to his death; and Barbara Isaac from December 21, 1966 to 1977. He had three children with Jean Myers.

Art Carney was a comic singer with the Horace Heidt orchestra, which was heard often on radio during the 1930s, notably on the hugely successful Pot o' Gold, the first big-money giveaway show in 1939-41. Carney's film career began with an uncredited role in Pot o' Gold (1941), the radio program's spin-off feature film, playing a member of Heidt's band. Carney, a gifted mimic, worked steadily in radio during the 1940s, playing character roles and impersonating celebrities. In 1941 he was the house comic on the big band remote series, Matinee at Meadowbrook. One of his radio roles during the 1940s was the fish Red Lantern on Land of the Lost. In 1943 he played Billy Oldham on Joe and Ethel Turp, based on Damon Runyon stories. He appeared on The Henry Morgan Show in 1946-47. He impersonated FDR on The March of Time and Dwight D. Eisenhower on Living 1948. In 1950-51 he played Montague's father on The Magnificent Montague. He was a supporting player on Casey, Crime Photographer and Gang Busters.

On the radio and television shows of the The Morey Amsterdam Show from 1948 to 1950, Carney's character Charlie the doorman became known for his catchphrase, "Ya know what I mean?", a phrase so deeply embedded that it continues to have widespread usage more than half a century later.

In 1950 Jackie Gleason was starring in a New York-based comedy-variety series, Cavalcade of Stars, and played many different characters. One regular character was Charlie Bratten, a lunchroom loudmouth who insisted on spoiling a neighboring patron's meal. Carney, established in New York as a reliable actor, played Bratten's mild-mannered victim, Clem Finch. Gleason and Carney developed a good working chemistry, and Gleason recruited Carney to appear in other sketches, including the domestic-comedy skits featuring The Honeymooners. Carney gained lifelong fame for his portrayal of upstairs neighbor and sewer worker Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden. The success of these skits resulted in the famous filmed situation comedy The Honeymooners and the Honeymooners revivals that followed.

Beyond The Honeymooners (can we ever stop laughing at Hello, Ball?), Art Carney served as Gleason's sidekick and troupe member during many of the Gleason's years on television, which included several CBS runs of the Gleason variety show and some Honeymooners specials on ABC. Gleason picked Carney to play Norton because he realized that Carney was so funny that Gleason would have to work twice as hard to get laughs. This "competition" between the two was likely a factor in the program's consistently high level of humor. In fact, at one point during the 1950s, Carney was getting more media attention than Gleason, prompting Gleason to scale back Carney's participation for a few episodes. Popular demand restored Carney to prominence in the Gleason shows.

Art Carney's good-nature, goofy portrayal of Norton continues to influence pop culture, particularly by inspiring the Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi Bear and Barney Rubble.

Art Carney was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won six. Would you believe, Aty was also in an episode of The Twilight Zone "Night of the Meek".

In 1974 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Harry Coombes, an elderly man going on the road with his pet cat, in Harry and Tonto. He also appeared in such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, The Late Show (as an aging detective), House Calls, Movie Movie and Going in Style (as a bored senior citizen who joins in bank robberies). Later movies included The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984) and the thriller Firestarter.
In 1981, he portrayed Harry Truman, an 84-year-old lodge owner in the half-fictional/half-real account of events leading to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, in the movie titled St. Helens. Although he retired in the late 1980s, he returned in 1993 to make a small cameo in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero.

Art Carney's work on stage included the portrayal on Broadway in 1965-67 of Felix Unger in The Odd Couple (opposite Walter Matthau as Oscar). In 1969 he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in Brian Friel's Lovers.

Carney died after a long illness at a rest home near his home in Westbrook, Connecticut, five days after his 85th birthday; he was survived by his widow and children. Carney is interred at Riverside Cemetery in Old Saybrook, Middlesex County, Connecticut. Carney was succeeded in show business by his grandson, Devin Richardson Carney, star of Old Saybrook theatre productions, including a stint as Captain Von Trapp in The Sound of Music and a commanding performance as Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls. Today, Devin Richardson Carney limits his theatrical work to performing in the Ardmore Road Rock Band in West Hartford, Connecticut, where he plays backup guitar for Nick Bombace.

Audrey Meadows initial theatrical head shot About Audrey Meadows, the second and most endearing "Alice" Audrey Meadows was born in Wu Chang, China, to Episcopal missionary parents, Audrey spoke nothing but Chinese until she was five, when her parents returned home to America. Although Audrey had made her debut as a coloratura soprano in Carnegie Hall when she was sixteen, she also sang with the Civic Light Opera companies in Detroit, Louisville and Chicago in standards like "Roberta," "Anything Goes," "Good News," and "No, Non Nanette," as well as a starring Broadway role with Phil Silvers in "Top Banana" and with Bob And Ray's famous television show.

Audrey reached phenomenal success with "The Honeymooners," and will be forever remembered as "Alice." Next, a series of guest shots on major TV shows, and six specials with Sid Caesar, showed her versatility as a singer, dancer and comedienne. Audrey Meadows, at the height of her comedy success, showed her unique versatility in developing a series of straight dramatic roles in "Play of the Week" and"Alfred Hitchcock Presents," which won an award, "Checkmate," "Wagon Train" and more. she made her motion picture debut with Cary Grant and Doris Day in "That Touch of Mink." She then followed that success with "Take Her She's Mine," with Jimmy Stewart, and "Rosie" with Rosalind Russell and Sandra Dee. All of her film work was interspersed with television guest star roles on national shows. Few fans realize that the familiar throaty rasp of Alice Kramden belongs to the Audrey Meadows who was more than capable of holding her own with many of the nation's top ranking comics. Television guest shots with Sid Caesar, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, Lucille Ball, Ted Knight, Johnathan Winters and Carol Burnett proved that with her own unique and unforgettable style of comic acting. She became a sought-after dramatic actress as well, and appeared in every major television playhouse production, including the prize-winning Alfred Hitchcock drama, and starred in a two-hour production of Elmer Rice's, "the Grand Tour." Later, she appeared in "Specials" of "The Honeymooners," Dean Martin "Roasts," "The Love Boat," "Hotel" and five years opposite Ted Knight in "Too Close for Comfort," a recurring role on Universal's "Uncle Buck," as well as "Murder, She Wrote," "Davis Rules," "Burke's Law," "Sisters," and "Dave's World."

On August 24, 1961, Audrey was married in Honolulu to Robert F. Six, President of Continental Airlines. She served as Director of the First National Bank of Denver for eleven years and was an Advisory Director of Continental Airlines. In October 1994, she published her memiors, entitled, Love, Alice. Love, Alice is referred to many places on this official Web site, particularly in "Fun Stuff," where Audrey recounts in her own words some of her most colorful memories associated with "The Honeymooners."

Audrey Meadows died February 3, 1996 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles at the age of 69.

Joyce Randolph initial theatrical head shot About Joyce Randolph, born Joyce Sirola in Detroit, Michigan on October 21, 1925, is an actress, best known for playing Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners�s television series of the 1950s. Joyce Randolph married Richard Charles in a Baptist church on Long Island, New York, on October 2, 1955, and they remain married. They had one child. She was known as "The Garbo of Detroit," probably because of her Garbo like "mug." Joyce Randolph is the last surviving member of the famous Honeymooners quartet, living (as last we at OTV heard) in Southern New Jersey.
Trivia: Joyce Randolph was not the very first "Trixie Norton"; Elaine Stritch appeared as a burlesque "1951 in Cavalcade of Stars, where the premise for The Honeymooners first took root.

Shiela Macrae as Alice??? Jane Kean as Trixie??? Where's Audrey & Joyce?
When Jackie Gleason decided to move his CBS hour long show to Miami in 1968, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph did not want to leave the East Coast. Jackie once told TV Guide he telephoned Shiela Macrae and got her singer husband, Gordon. Jackie scowled, in his Ralph roar, "Will you get off the line, I want to talk to your wife." Shiela Macrae would be offered the cherished role of Alice Kramden. Flashback: Audrey had to audition twice for the role of Alice. She was rejected the first time because Gleason thought she looked too glamorous for the role of the pauper housewife. Not taking "no" easily, Audrey re-auditioned dressed down and, to our enjoyment and endearment, got the part, replacing Perk Kelton who was banned from TV, suspected by the Mc Carthy commission of being a possibke communist sympathizer. The third Alice, Shiela Macrae was hired over the phone. Jane Kean was reportedly referred by her William Morris agent. Unfortunately, the ladies who played Ralph and Ed's wives were never fully accepted by TV viewers. The color musical The Jackie Gleason Show: Honeymooners folded after two seasons. The (new) Jackie Gleason Show took on a revamped diverse sketch comedy format (Reginald Van Gleason III, The Poor Soul, Joe the Bartender with Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim. this time less Carney, Macrae and Kean ...no Honeymooner skits). A similar formst, that included the original cast and The Honeymooners skits, had been brosdcast on CBS, live from NYC, on Saturday Nights four years prior (remember Charlie Bracken, the loudmouth?).

In the late 70's, Jackie taped three Honeymooners specials for ABC with the original cast in New York, attempting to revive the spark of the original series which began on the now defunct Du Mont network and moved to CBS. In the psychedellic era of Laugh In and Sonny & Cher, the Kramdens and Nortons, with Audrey amd Joyce returning to their 50's origin roles, along with Art and Jackie, could not garner appreciable ratings, not even making the top 20. ABC ordered no further Honeymooner episodes. The

Shiela About Shiela Macrae Alice in the color series.Sheila MacRae was born Sheila Margaret Stephens on September 24, 1924 in London, England, UK She appeared in such films as Pretty Baby (1950), Caged (1950), Backfire (1950), and Sex and the Single Girl (1964).

On television, MacRae is famously remembered for playing herself in the in I Love Lucy episode titled "The Fashion Show". She played Alice Kramden, the long-suffering but sassy wife of bus driver Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) on the musical-comedy colour episodes of "The Honeymooners" on The Jackie Gleason Show from 1966 to 1970 (a role originally played by Pert Kelton and then, when Kelton was blacklisted, by Audrey Meadows and later Sue Ane Langdon). She also afterward played the role of "Madelyn Richmond" on the television soap opera General Hospital.

MacRae was married to the actor Gordon MacRae from 1941 until their divorce in 1967. Both exceptional singers, they often appeared on the stage together, in such musical productions as a 1964 production of The Bells Are Ringing and Guys and Dolls, playing the role of Miss Adelaide, a role that she took to Broadway in the 1965 revival. They were the parents of the actresses Heather MacRae and Meredith MacRae.

Jane Kean initial theatrical head shot About Jane Kean Trixie on the color Honeymooners was born April 10, 1924 in Hartford, Connecticut). Her career has spanned over 60 years with starring roles on stage in Early to Bed, Call Me Mister, and Ankles Aweigh, to such presitigious films as Disney's PETE'S DRAGON.

Kean and her sister Betty formed a comedy duo that worked the nightclub circuit throughout the 1940s and '50s, and the two appeared on Broadway as sisters in the 1955 musical Ankles Aweigh.

She studied acting with Sanford Meisner at the Neighborhood Playhouse. Additional theatre credits include Call Me Mister and Carnival!. She had a small part in Take Me Along which starred Jackie Gleason, who would remember her a few years later when casting his weekly hour television program.

Ms. Kean made her film debut at Republic Studios in the 1941 film Sailors On Leave directed by Albert S. Rogell.

Television audiences remember Kean for her role of Trixie Norton in a series of hour-long Honeymooners episodesin color and with musicon The Jackie Gleason Show from 196670. She succeeded Joyce Randolph, who had played the role in earlier sketches and on the 195556 sitcom THE HONEYMOONERS. Other credits include The Phil Silvers Show, Make Room For Daddy, Lucy, Love Boat, Facts Of Life and Dallas..

Pert Kelton initial theatrical head shot About Pert Keltonthe very first Alice American stage and film comedienne, played the stool pigeon in Mary Burns-Fugitive in 1935 and played Alice Kramden for the first few episodes of "The Honeymooners" television series.

Pert's obituary in The New York Times lists her birth as October 1907, but the Great Falls Tribune wrote in 1926 that she was born on May 17, 1909, to Ed (or Ned) and Susan Kelton on the Simms Ranch on Box Elder Creek east of Great Falls, Montana.

The Times said Pert made her debut in South Africa at the age of three, changing the program cards for her parents' act. ". . . after she became six they added her to their act, which was known as the 'Three Keltons.'"

At 17, "Pert Kelton, eccentric comedienne," was featured in a Broadway musical comedy, "Sunny," in 1926. In 1949, Pert provided the voices for all five women on the Milton Berle radio show. She played the sharp-tongued Irish widow in the film version of Meredith Willson's "The Music Man" in 1957.

Pert Kelton was married to the actor-director, Ralph Bell. They had two sons. She died October 30, 1968, in Westwood, New Jersey.

JACKIE GLEASON'S PERSONAL FAVORITES

According to Look Magazine, Jackie had two favorite Honeymooner's episodes. Of course, one was that hilarious episode where that famous Norton line, "Hello, Ball" was spoken, the skit where Jackie had to learn golf in a week in order to impress his boss (the predicament caused by Ed's intervention at the Gotham Bus Company). Ed spoke the line while demonstrating to Ralph what was meant by the Golf instruction to "step up and address the ball." Who can forget Alice's glare when she "gets a load" of her husband's loud plaid golfing outfit.

Jackie's second pick may surprise you. It was that little spoken of Honeymooners episode in which the Kramden's hire a maid. The overtowering, overbearing housekeeper responded to Ed's dinner bell ringing and request for "one lump" (of sugar) in his coffee by retorting, "You keep on ringing that bell and you'll get one lump, alright."

In the article, Jackie praised his co-stars. He said then, as he would say thirty years later on 60 Minutes (about why the show plays on and on as the classic) "When it's funny, it's funny." Amen. You can comment and list for your favorite episodes in our Oldies Television community forum, link below.

Jackie's Practical Joke On Audrey In her book My Life As A Honeymooner Audrey Meadows (Alice) conveys how Jackie never liked to rehearse and how she was in tears because she felt rehearsing was essential, especially blocking (which is perhaps why Jackie, as Ralph, gently pushed her back during his rambling lines as he stomped back and forth the tiny set). Audrey writes how one night, nearly midnight as her hair was in curlers, Jackie insisted she come to his apartment at the Park Sheridan (New York). Thinking it had something to do with the next day live telecast at DuMont, Alice, rollers in hair, took a cab over to Jackie's, only to find two of the show's June Taylor dances posed nude on either side of the davenport, lampshades on their heads. Jackie bellowed, "Hey, Aud...how do you like my new designer floor lamps?"

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9.16.2012 J Coopersmith, CT They can talk about "The Big Bang Theory" or so-called classics "King Of Queens," "...Raymond all they want, nothing, NOTHING can or will even approach the endearing, hilarious and clean comedy of The Honeymooners.

10.28.2012 Dyangoboy77, TX For me, it's either The Honeymooners or nothing.

11.03.2012 LanaJ, NJ I can't wait until New Years Eve when channel 11 plays The Honeymooners marathon



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