When I was a little kid for most of the country The Jackie Gleason Show was must-see tv. As I got a little older I discovered, in reruns, The Honeymooners. Then in high school Jackie hit big again with his classic role as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit.
Gleason was also great dramatic actor (see The Hustler and Requiem for a Heavyweight if you don’t believe me) but comedy was where Gleason spent the majority of his career. Gleason was a true talent making it big on stage, television, radio and movies.
If you don’t know much about the man known as The Great One, check out 18 Fascinating Facts about Jackie Gleason presented by the fine folks at MeTV. Here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts on each…
When you see him pat his stomach on The Honeymooners, it’s because he forgot a line. Well, perhaps it wasn’t 100% photographic. The sitcom was filmed live, so there were no do-overs.
(If you’ve never seen The Honeymooners you owe it to yourself to check it out. Classic comedy! – Craig)
His debut album still holds the record for most consecutive weeks in the Billboard top ten — a whopping 153. Gleason was a massive music star. In a way, he was a forerunner of ambient pioneer Brian Eno, in that he wished to craft records of what he called “musical wallpaper.” His easy listening instruments, especially Lonesome Echo, remain cult favorites. His first album, 1952’s Music for Lovers Only, spent a mind-boggling three years near the top ten. To put that in perspective, Thriller only managed 78.
(Who’d a thunk it? – Craig)
He believed in aliens. Gleason studied the paranormal and UFOs. It is rumored that President Nixon shared secret information about UFOs with the Hollywood star.
(Gleason told people that then President Nixon actually showed him a captured alien ship and alien corpse! – Craig)