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The Honeymooners
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Although he tried very hard to become a movie star as well as create and produce television entertainment that was a lot flashier, like it or not, The Honeymooners ended up being the single creation for which Jackie Gleason was best known. One irony surrounding its recognition over the decades was that, as a series in its own right, it was only on for a single season, 1955-1956, with 39 episodes running 26 minutes each. They were performed in front of a live audience but shot on film to be broadcast later. All of the other Honeymooners shows -- the so-called "Lost Episodes" -- were comedy sketches of varying lengths, performed and broadcast live as part of Gleason's larger variety program The Jackie Gleason Show; they were preserved on kinescopes, films shot of the show off of a studio monitor. The results were crude, but effective, rather like the sketch comedy itself. The sketch performances of The Honeymooners from 1952-1955 may have established the setting, the premise, and the characters, but those 39 filmed episodes showed what could be done with them under ideal circumstances. Set in a working-class section of Brooklyn (actually resembling Bushwick, but referred to as Bensonhurst because the latter sounded more "Brooklyn-like" to people from outside New York), the series told of the daily life of bus driver Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and his wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) of 328 Chauncey Street, a rundown, walk-up apartment building, and their ...
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