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Jackie Gleason

Jackie Gleason

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Also Known As: Herbert John Gleason, Jackie C. Gleason Died: June 24, 1987
Born: February 26, 1916 Cause of Death: colon cancer
Birth Place: Brooklyn, New York, USA Profession: comedian, actor, composer, conductor, carnival barker, arranger, vaudevillian

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Dubbed "The Great One" by none other than Orson Welles and beloved as one of the biggest stars of television's golden era, multi-talented comedic actor Jackie Gleason enjoyed a life and career as robust as his onscreen persona. After gaining recognition as a performer in the nightclubs of New York and on the stages of Broadway - interrupted by a brief, unsatisfying stint in Hollywood - Gleason took on the new medium of television as the star of "Cavalcade of Stars" (DuMont, 1949-1952). There, he introduced several of his famous long-running characters, including Reginald Van Gleason III, The Poor Soul, and Joe the Bartender. But it was another character, New York bus driver Ralph Kramden, that led to the creation of "The Honeymooners" (CBS, 1955-56), considered one of the greatest programs in the history of television. Often underappreciated for his substantial dramatic talent, Gleason was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in "The Hustler" (1961) and earned high marks for his turn in "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1962). A decade and a half later, he attracted scores of new fans as the caustic Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Burt Reynolds hit "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977). More film work and...

Dubbed "The Great One" by none other than Orson Welles and beloved as one of the biggest stars of television's golden era, multi-talented comedic actor Jackie Gleason enjoyed a life and career as robust as his onscreen persona. After gaining recognition as a performer in the nightclubs of New York and on the stages of Broadway - interrupted by a brief, unsatisfying stint in Hollywood - Gleason took on the new medium of television as the star of "Cavalcade of Stars" (DuMont, 1949-1952). There, he introduced several of his famous long-running characters, including Reginald Van Gleason III, The Poor Soul, and Joe the Bartender. But it was another character, New York bus driver Ralph Kramden, that led to the creation of "The Honeymooners" (CBS, 1955-56), considered one of the greatest programs in the history of television. Often underappreciated for his substantial dramatic talent, Gleason was nominated for an Oscar for his performance in "The Hustler" (1961) and earned high marks for his turn in "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1962). A decade and a half later, he attracted scores of new fans as the caustic Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Burt Reynolds hit "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977). More film work and the occasional "Honeymooners" revival occupied Gleason's later years, although he never abandoned his favorite pastimes - golf, food and alcohol - even as his health declined. A revered entertainer to generations of fans, Gleason's famous tagline of "How sweet it is!" reflected both his body of work and his thirst for life.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

3.

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Nothing in Common (1986) Max Basner
2.
 Izzy and Moe (1985) Isadore "Izzy" Einstein
3.
 SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT, PART 3 (1983) Buford T Justice
4.
 The Sting II (1982) Henry Gondorff
5.
 Toy, The (1982) Us Bates
6.
 Smokey And The Bandit II (1980) Buford T Justice; Gaylord T Justice; Reginald T Justice
7.
 Smokey And The Bandit (1977) Sheriff Buford T Justice
8.
 Mr. Billion (1977) John Cutler
9.
 How Do I Love Thee? (1970) Stanley Waltz
10.
 Don't Drink the Water (1969) Walter Hollander
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1968:
Co-starred in the disastrous "Skidoo"
1961:
Earned Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Minnesota Fats in "The Hustler"
1961:
Hosted disastrous "You're in the Picture" (CBS)
1986:
Made final film appearance in "Nothing in Common", playing Tom Hanks' father
1949:
Made TV series debut starring in "The Life of Riley" (NBC); show filmed in California
1964:
Permanently moved to Florida
1950:
Returned to NYC
1983:
Starred with Laurence Olivier in the HBO TV-movie "Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson"
:
Became a Broadway star with "Take Me Along"; won Tony Award as Best Actor in a Musical
1935:
First professional nightclub appearance in Newark, NJ
1938:
Made Broadway debut in "Hellzapoppin'"
1940:
Put under contract by Warner Bros after Jack Warner spotted him performing at a Manhattan nightclub
:
Returned to the hour-long variety format with "The Jackie Gleason Show" (CBS)
1963:
Starred as Jack Griffith in "Papa's Delicate Condition"
:
Starred in first incarnation of "The Jackie Gleason Show" (CBS), a one-hour variety series
:
While on tour with "Sly Fox", suffered a heart attack and underwent triple by-pass surgery
:
Worked as a carnival barker and emcee in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
:
Appeared on Broadway throughout the 1940s in such shows as "Artists and Models" (1943), "Follow the Girls" (1944), in which he appeared in drag, and "Along Fifth Avenue" (1949)
:
Did one season as star of the half-hourcomedy series "The Honeymooners" (CBS)
1941:
Feature film debut in "Navy Blues"
1977:
First played Sheriff Buford T Justice in "Smokey and the Bandit"; would appear in two sequels
1953:
Recorded first album for Capitol Records
1978:
Returned to Broadway for brief run in "Sly Fox"
:
Returned to TV as star of the variety series "The Jackie Gleason Show" (CBS); also reprised "The Honeymooners"
1955:
Signed $14 million contract with CBS and Buick (the sponsor of his variety series)
1931:
Won an amatuer night contest in Brooklyn at age 15 (date approximate)
1961:
Wrote and starred in "The Million Dollar Incident" (CBS)
1962:
Co-wrote and starred in "Gigot"; also wrote the music score
1953:
Had first dramatic role in "The Laughmaker", co-starring Art Carney
:
Hosted "Cavalcade of Stars" (DuMont); first introduced the character of Ralph Kramden; also first teaming with Art Carney
1948:
Made TV debut on "Talk of the Town", hosted by Ed Sullivan
1985:
Reteamed with Art Carney as co-stars in the CBS TV-movie "Izzy and Moe"; also wrote the musical score
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

John Adams High School: Brooklyn, New York -
Bushwick High School: Brooklyn, New York -
P S 73: Brooklyn, New York -

Notes

Although he was nominated for an Emmy Award, Gleason never won one.

He recorded nearly 40 albums with the Jackie Gleason Orchestra.

Inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1986.

"Jackie Gleason is my favorite two comedians." --Miton Berle

"Critics report on accidents to eye witnesses." --Jackie Gleason

"Everyone is insecure to a degree. My business is composed of a mass of crisis. It all adds up to the manufacturing of insecurity. Some people find escape in comfort, dames, liquor, or food. But that is not enough." --Jackie Gleason

"Playing a serious rle is easy for a comedian, It's the other way around that's tough. Name one serious actor who can make it in comedy." --Gleason quoted in press material for "Nothing in Common" (1986)

"As my wife would tell you, I am not entralled with awards - I would rather received payment for my performance." --Jackie Gleason in a 1985 TV interview

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Genevieve Halford. Married September 20, 1936; leagally separated on December 15, 1954; divorced 1971; mother of Gleason's two daughters.
companion:
Honey Merrill. Former secretary. Together from 1956 until 1970.
wife:
Beverly McKittrick. Married 1971; divorced 1974.
wife:
Marilyn Taylor. Originally dated c. 1953; sister of dancer June Taylor; married in 1975 until his death.
VIEW COMPLETE COMPANION LISTING

Family close complete family listing

father:
Herb Gleason. Insurance auditor. Abandoned the family when Gleason was nine years old on December 15, 1925.
mother:
Mae Gleason. Subway booth attendant. Died in 1932.
brother:
Clemence Gleason. Older; died in 1919.
daughter:
Geraldine Gleason. Born July 31, 1939; mother, Genevieve Halford.
daughter:
Linda Gleason. Actor. Born on September 16, 1941; mother, Genevieve Halford; formerly married to writer-actor Jason Miller, with whom she had three children including actor Jason Patric.
grandson:
Jason Patric. Born June 1966; mother, Linda Gleason; father, Jason Miller.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

Bibliography close complete biography

"Jackie Gleason: An Intimate Portrait of the Great One" Pharos Books
"The Great One: The Life and Legend of Jackie Gleason" Doubleday

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