Friday, February 26, 2016


Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Great One, Jackie Gleason.  I would have to say he's the true American Success Story in the television business and that's proven every day by how popular those "ancient" episodes of 'The Honeymooners' have been with each succeeding generation of viewers.

It's pozz'ble, just pozz'ble, that I could have inducted Mr. Gleason into the TVXOHOF in some future Creators' showcase which I run every September.  However, I think it's more appropriate to do this on such a special occasion as his centenary.

Luckily we have three basic qualifiers to justify the occasion.....

'The Jack Benny Program'
"The Jackie Gleason Show"

While in New York, Jack wants to impress Jackie Gleason, so he and Rochester move into the penthouse suite of the luxurious St. Regis Hotel, and there's no length Jack won't go to, in order to avoid having to pay the $36 a night rental.

'The Jackie Gleason Show'
"Catch A Star"

Ralph tells the lodge members he knows Jackie Gleason and can get him for a show at the Raccoon Lodge (of course he doesn't). He comes clean to Norton who helps him come up with a plan to get Gleason to come to the event on the basis that it's a charity.  It's not, but they don't plan on letting that get in the way. Their plan involves waiting in Gleason's hotel lobby to ask him for help. The scene in the lobby revolves around a series of exits and entrances by Ralph and Gleason then Ed and Carney and even Joyce Randolph gets involved in playing a different character in that lobby. Gleason and Ralph manage to miss each other in the lobby. On the night of the event Ralph is shaking in his boots because he doesn't know that Alice had managed to get Gleason to show up by making his favorite food and sending it to him with a note asking him to help. Another interesting character swap takes place and everyone is happy at the end.

This episode was remade as "Ralph Kramden Presents" (3/18/1967).

"The Million Dollar Incident"

A couple of crooks made off with one of the largest hauls. The crime - they made off with Jackie Gleason.  The kidnapping began at the benefit for the Heart Fund.  (Great cast!  Peter Falk, Jack Klugman, Everett Sloane, Harvey Lembeck, Barnard Hughes, Sorrell Brooke, Salome Jens, Harry Dean Stanton, Bill Zuckert, William Redfield, plus George Jessel and TVXOHOF member Ed Sullivan as themselves.)

And then there are the many occasions in which he made appearances on variety shows.  Those always do count but they don't carry enough weight, except for the stars of the shows, to be valid reasons for entry.  Still, it was always a major get for one of those variety shows to have Jackie Gleason as a guest star.  

But I do think special mention should be made of the second episode of his quiz show "You're In The Picture", in which Gleason just sat there and apologized to the audience for the drek that was presented during the premiere episode the week before.

So here's to you, Mr. Gleason.  And away you go into the Television Crossover Hall Of Fame.  

How sweet it is!

No comments: