Jackie Gleason used to edit ''The Honeymooners'' while it was live

"Jackie was not the easiest person in the world to act with, but he certainly was the most fun."

Jackie Gleason was undoubtedly a master of comedic timing. They don't call you The Great One for nothing. As creator and star of The Honeymooners, Gleason was more involved in the creation of comedic moments than anyone else was. Moreover, he also had a responsibility to create high-quality comedy, both for himself and for the audience.

This meant that Gleason frequently had a hand in using his comedic eye to edit and trim the fat in The Honeymooners to make sure the series would guarantee laughs. Like any loving parent, Gleason took care of his series every step of the way, and sometimes even lingered a bit longer than that.

According to How Sweet It Is: The Jackie Gleason Story, written by James Bacon, Audrey Meadows, who played Gleason's on-screen wife in The Honeymooners, recalled that Gleason would sometimes edit scenes of The Honeymooners while they were live. She said, "Jackie had an uncanny sense of timing. In fact, I used to think he had a time clock in his head. He knew instinctively when a show was playing too long."

She continued, "When that happened, he would come up with a line that was two pages ahead of what we were doing at the moment. Art and I rolled with this but I have seen veteran actors in the show who were near collapse after it happened. He could drop two minutes without even the slightest hint, not even a wink. And amazingly, he always did it without hurting the plot in any way." 

While Gleason was a master at his craft, this situation sounds like it would be stressful for anyone, even seasoned actors like Meadows and Carney. Meadows, however, understood that Gleason's maneuvers were worth the stress, considering they were for the benefit of the show. To sum it up, "Jackie was not the easiest person in the world to act with, but he certainly was the most fun."

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10 Comments

Runeshaper 2 months ago
Jackie Gleason was a champ of acting, singing, etc. Even with last minute or in the moment changes, I'm sure he was doing what was best for the show.
Pacificsun 2 months ago
He certainly did it seamlessly!
Andybandit 2 months ago
I love the Honeymooners. I can't believe how the flintstones characters and the Honeymooners characters are alike in many ways.
cperrynaples Andybandit 2 months ago
Well, it's obvious! Jackie actually considered suing Hanna-Barbera over the Ralph/Fred similarities but his manager talked him out of it! BTW, Top Cat is feline Bilko & The Jetsons is future Blondie! The same actress who did the movies was the voice of Jane!
justjeff cperrynaples 2 months ago
Yep... Penny Singleton...
MikefromJersey 2 months ago
In his salad days before he hit it big, Gleason would support himself by hanging
around pool halls in Newark and hustling the locals.
Then he'd hightail it back over the river to Brooklyn. It's safer to take the marks in
somebody else's neighborhood and then get out of Dodge.
That really doesn't have anything to do with the above story, but after years of posting
here I wanted to be the first to comment on a subject.
Hmm, maybe I should file this under "get a life".
TRUE! I always remember in the $99.000 Answer episode, Ralph claimed he spent his youth listening to music and not playing pool or bowling! if that were true, how come he didn't know Swanee River? Even I know THAT song!
Pacificsun MikefromJersey 2 months ago
But you've posted before, many times!! I remember the avatars.

And no one said everything has to be precisely on topic. At least your story is about the same actor!!
Runeshaper MikefromJersey 2 months ago
Thanks for the info!
MikefromJersey Pacificsun 2 months ago
Pacific,
I should have written more clearly. I meant that after MeTV posts a new Quiz/Story
I was never the very first one to post a reply to it. And now I am.
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