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The Jackie Gleason Show
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TV Series
    (June 4, 1949-September 12, 1970)
    Saturday night variety show
    Perfomed Live at the CBS Studio 50 Backlot in New York City
    Produced and Hosted by Jackie Gleason (1950-1970)
    Originally 'Calvacade of Stars' (Hosted by Jack Carter and Jerry Lester)
    Aired on DuMont (1949-1952), later CBS (1952-1955; 1956 - 1957; 1958 - 1959; 1962 - 1968; 1968 - 1970)
    Music performed by Ray Bloch and His Orchestra (1952 - 1959); later Sammy Spear & His Orchestra (1962-1970)
    Regulars included Frank Fontaine, The June Taylor Dancers, Pert Kelton, Ethel Owen, George Petrie, Ginger Jones, Frank Marth, Les Damon, Zamah Cuningham, Sue Ane Langdon, (and of course Carney, Meadows, and Randolph)
    Skits featured original characters such as Reginald Van Gleason III, The Kramdens, Joe the Bartender, The Poor Soul, Rudy the Repairman, and Rum-Dum
    Generated the first major TV spin-off in The Honeymooners from the popular 'Kramden' sketches (1955)
    Popularized the catchphrases 'And awa-a-aay we go!' and 'How sweet it is!'
    Gleason liked to do his opening monologues in a bathrobe.
    Its star famously was denied an Emmy throughout the show's entire extended run.
    Barely any footage of the show's Dumont days, let alone with the two hosts who preceded Gleason, remains.
    It has a very confusing broadcast history, as Gleason continuously pulled the plug on it to pursue other endeavors (it would return every two years, each time in different incarnations/formats).
    Pert Kelton's appearances on the program became less frequent after she was blacklisted, although the public reason stated was that she left for health reasons.
    It was blamed for the box office failure of a Debbie Reynolds/James Garner movie by the same name, allegedly because attendees got up and left the theatre when they saw Gleason wasn't in it (ironically, the line didn't even originate on the show, but was first said by Gleason in a film called 'Papa's Delicate Condition').
    When Art Carney took a break from the show during the 1956-1957 season, they tried bringing Buddy Hackett in as a replacement 'second banana' but the chemistry was lacking, and it was unceremoniously cancelled in January of 1959.
    Two years later, in 1961, it reemerged as a game show titled 'You're in the Picture.' After a single (disastrous) episode, it switched to a talk-show format, which collectively lasted barely eight shows.
    Later seasons marked several changes, including production being relocated to Miami, and the introduction of 'The Glea Girls' (who did nothing more than 'look good' and introduce the next skit).
    The show's brand suffered in the late 60s when Gleason went on a much-publicized diet, his weight loss ruining punch-lines which had for so many years revolved around 'fat jokes.'
    The news that a vault of 'lost episodes' of The Honeymooners had been uncovered was reported to much fanfare, but they turned out just to be recycled sketches from the 'Gleason Show,' many of which were just earlier templates for the better known half-hour episodes (Feb. 6, 1985).
    Its popularity earned Gleason the nicknames 'Mr. Saturday Night' and 'The Great One.'
    It marked the TV debut of a young Johnny Cash in a 1957 episode.
    It won Emmys for Best Supporting Actress (Audrey, in 1955), Best Supporting Actor (Art Carney, 1954, 1955), and for Choreography, in 1955.
    It came the closest to breaking the stranglehold of I Love Lucy in the overall ratings, finishing at #2 in the 1954–1955 Nielsen Ratings.
    The show's popular 'Melancholy Serenade' was composed by Gleason himself (much of the original instrumentals in the sketches were also written by him as well).
    A 1981 20/20 special on Gleason reported that statistically both grocery store sales and traffic declined sharply on Saturday nights when the show was on (the bar-owner next to the studio attested to lines stretching around the block, with getting tickets to the show being 'harder than getting to see the President').
    Jackie Gleason became the first major television personality to use the term 'Super Bowl' in reference to the AFL-NFL World Championship Game, when he concluded a program urging viewers to tune in the following night to watch the inaugural Packers-Chiefs game (Jan. 14, 1967).
    Elaine Stritch and Alice Ghostley both started out doing skits on the show (Strich was the original 'Trixie Nortion,' while Ghostley did a bit sketch called 'Agnes & Arthur').
    Skits very often had a self-parodying streak (e.g. having the 'Honeymooners' characters interact with the actors who played them; doing a British version of the program with the opening line 'Let's Be Off').
    The 'Kramden' sketches were wildly popular in their own right, and Gleason was known to prefer the skits because they weren't limited to the half-hour format.
    One 1955 sketch, 'The Adoption,' in which the birth mother of a child Ralph/Alice have adopted decides she wants her baby back, generated an unprecedented emotional response from viewers (it was so powerful that a friend of Audrey Meadows' even called offering her legal counsel in a custody battle, before realizing that it was 'just a television show').
    A majority of his show's characters were based on real-life figures from Gleason's childhood in Brooklyn (e.g. Joe the Bartender was based on the father of a boyhood friend, although the Poor Soul and Reggie Von Gleason were old Vaudeville acts of Gleason's). The pathos attributed to each individual character was almost unprecedented for television.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

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