One of the biggest ensemble casts in television history included The Honeymooners: Jackie Gleason as the bus driver and blowhard Ralph Kramden, Audrey Meadows as his long-suffering wife Alice, and the Nortons as their neighbors and best friends, Art Carney and Joyce Randolph.
While each of the stars of the show deserves praise for their role in the success of the show, Gleason thought that the lion’s share of the applause should go to one specific artist.
“The Honeymooners,” was not produced by Gleason, but he supervised every part of the series.
While “The Honeymooners,” was not conceived by Jackie Gleason, it was obvious that the comedian and actor were the heart and soul of the series. He made every decision concerning the series, and the deciding factor was whatever he said.
After a single season, his most critical decision for the series was undeniably the one to end it.
Also now, with just 39 episodes, viewers are shocked by the staying power of the comedy.
He didn’t want the series to run too long, as for the star’s rationale for the early ending.
Gleason told Johnny Carson in 1996, “We ran out of ideas,” “I liked The Honeymooners, and I liked doing it, and by pushing scenes that meant nothing, I didn’t want to denigrate it.
I tried to leave that way, but they didn’t trust me.
Somewhere, they thought I had another job, but I didn’t. I’m glad I stopped them, because what we did was good, and we would have ruined it if we had gone any further.
Without this guy,’ The Honeymooners’ would not have been a success, Gleason said.
‘The Honeymooners’: Why after one season was the show cancelled?
The comic talent of Carney was innate.
For Gleason, the real star of “The Honeymooners.” was Art Carney. He and Gleason were continually referred to as their generation’s Laurel and Hardy.
He gained experience in early television programs such as The Dagmar Story, The Morey Amsterdam Show, The Victor Borge Show and Studio One In Hollywood, all in the years leading up to the premiere of The Honeymooners in 1955, while Carney was not a trained actor, like many of his age.
Ultimately, as proven by Carney’s Oscar win for Best Actor for his role as Harry in the 1974 film Harry and Tonto, all that hard work paid off.
In 1985, Gleason told People that he gave Carney’ 90 percent of the credit’ for The Honeymooners’ performance.
Gleason said, “He has exquisite timing and the best body language in the world,”
Joyce Randolph about her husband on TV
Joyce Randolph, who played the onscreen wife of Carney, Trixie, agreed with Gleason’s evaluation, informing the American Television Archive in 1999.
He’s so great, he can do something,” said Randolph of her co-star, who died in 2003. “He’s such a funny guy, of course. For Jackie, he was the ideal foil.
“I don’t think Mr. Gleason would have gotten as far as he did without Art Carney.”