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Gleason, Jackie

Born: 1916 AD
Died: 1987 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: Actors, Comedians, TV Host

1916 – Herbert John "Jackie" Gleason, born on the 26th of February in Brooklyn, New York City, New York. He was American comedian and actor.



1940 – he was signed to a film contract by Warner Bros., and he debuted on-screen in Navy Blues (1941) His career was interrupted by World War II, but at the war’s end, Gleason returned to Hollywood, this time playing character roles in a number of films. His film work, however, lent little strength to his career, and he performed in several Broadway shows before achieving major success as the star of such TV comedy series as The Life of Riley, The Honeymooners, and The Jackie Gleason Show. 



1949 – First big break arrived, when he landed the role of blunt but softhearted aircraft worker Chester A. Riley for the first television version of radio hit The Life of Riley. (William Bendix originated the role on radio, but was unable to take the television role, at first, due to film commitments.)



1950 – Was hired to host DuMont’s Cavalcade of Stars variety hour, balancing glitzy entertainment and his comic versatility.



1952 – He framed the show with splashy dance numbers, developed sketch characters he would refine over the next decade, and became enough of a presence–his show was one of DuMont’s only major hits–that CBS wooed and won him over to their network.



1956 – Restored his original variety hour–including The Honeymooners


1955-56 – His show The Honeymooners, in which he played the scheming bus driver Ralph Kramden, achieved cult status in endless reruns. (Shorter Honeymooners sketches were a regular part of Gleason’s variety shows, AKA Lost Episodes, throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, but the 39 full half-hour episodes seen in reruns come from the 1955-56 season.)


1962 – He resurrected his variety show with a little more splashiness (the June Taylor Dancers’ routines became more elaborately choreographed and costumed than before) and a new hook–a fictitious general-interest magazine through whose format Gleason trotted out his old characters in new scenarios.


1964 – He had moved the production from New York to Miami Beach, reputedly because he liked the year-round access to the golf course at nearby Inverrary, where he built his final home. (His closing line became, almost invariably, "As always, the Miami Beach audience is the greatest audience in the world!")


1966 – He finally abandoned the American Scene Magazine format and converted the show into hour-long musical episodes of The Honeymooners alternating with standard variety hours till the early 1970’s.


1984 – Gleason finds lost Honeymooner episodes


1985 – The lost Honeymooner episodes are shown on TV for the first time in over 30 years.


1986 – 1987 – He was hospitalized, he was fighting colon cancer and liver cancer but checked himself out.


1987 – Died quietly at age 71 at his Inverrary home on the 24th of June. In the same year, Miami Beach honored his contributions to the city and its tourism by renaming the Miami Beach Auditorium–where he had done his television show once moving to Florida–as the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts.


1988 – On the 30th of June, the Sunset Park Bus Depot in Brooklyn was renamed the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in honor of the native Brooklynite.