Comedy Greats: Jackie Gleason
Jackie Gleason was as big a comedy genius as television ever produced. And that is NOT a comment on his size.
Today, he’s mostly remembered for being the star of The Honeymooners in his lifetime role as blustery, every-losing bus driver Ralph Kramden. But he was MUCH more.
Aside from being an excellent actor (watch him as Minnesota Fats in The Hustler), his show in the 1950s (when TMV was a small kid) featured him in a variety of roles. Click on the You Tube post below and you’ll see him as Reginald Van Gleason III, a rich playboy who is allergic to work. You’ll see Art Carney, who played his neighbor Ed Norton in The Honeymooners, as his bearded dad. You’ll also see Audrey Meadows, wife Alice in The Honeymooners, as his girlfriend Monica.
You’ll also note:
–For a big man he was quite agile and athletic.
–He spent a LOT on his sets. CBS gave him some money and he had no hesitation about putting a lot of it for his one-shot 1950s special effects (shows aired live, then vanished…forever until the advent of cable, VCRs, and DVDs).
If you’re an older reader, you’ll remember Gleason fondly.
If you’re a younger reader, you need to watch him to see a true showman who filled the screen with his pizazz and charisma (he was also the role model for Fred Flintstone, just as Carney’s Ed Norton was the role model for Yogi Bear).
If you’re interested in comedy you MUST start studying Gleason, his comedy timing and the way he created a whole bunch of characters and catchphrases.