Tuesday, June 24, 2008

On this Day (in 1987)

On June 24, 1987 "The Honeymooners" star Jackie Gleason died. Born February 26, 1916 in Brooklyn and later christened "The Great One" by Orson Wells, Gleason was a talented actor and comedian who most memorably played bus driver Ralph Kramden, the lovable loudmouth always looking for a get-rich-quick scheme. The schemes included competing on 'The $99,000 Answer'; winning the Racoon lodge's best costume prize for his man from space costume; becoming songwriters with Norton; and my absolute favorite Ralph's big plans for Ralph Kramden Inc. when he finds he's beneficiary of a millionaire's will only to find at the will's reading that 'Fortune' was the old lady's pet bird.

In addition to his TV credits, Gleason also earned an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Minnesota Fats in the 1961 movie "The Hustler" and who could forget his hilarious portrayal of Sheriff Bufford T. Justice in the "Smokey and the Bandit" movies. No matter how many roles, he'll always be Ralph Kramden to me.

Check out this clip featuring a classic scene between Jackie and Art Carney from "The Honeymooners" 'The Golfer' episode.