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Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by Dave Scarpa, Sep 3, 2005.
According the the booklet in MPI's Petticoat Junction Collection.
I wonder how many of his various variety shows still exist ?
Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine was cut down from 1 hour to 30 minutes in 1979 and at something like 82 of the episodes of that series which were shot on black & white videotape were preserved in original form for syndication. I remember when WWOR in Secaucus, NJ and a New Orleans station (when I was down there in 1984) and a number of other local stations in the early 1980s aired those back then in prime time. I haven't been able to find them since. These shows have pristine audio and the video is almost excellent except for the inevitable metallic dropouts that are evident in all videotaped shows from the early 1960s. However, even videotapes can be digitally enhanced in these modern times. I would LOVE to see these all released in season sets, and not "best of" compilations. However, the very first episode of that series from October 1, 1962 was released on VHS in its entirety. Unfortunately that hour was a kinescope filmed copy. The tape of that one probably wasn't saved. Former 1950s regular Art Carney guest starred, appearing only as Ed Norton late in the show in a 15 minute Honeymooners sketch as Ralph & Ed stay in a bomb shelter, while Alice and Trixie (played by Sue Ane Langdon and Patricia Bright) go to Atlantic City! Also in that same show: 1. Untouchables musical parody called "The Retouchables" with Jackie as Eliot Slesh and Sue Ane as a sexy showgirl who turns out to be "Mr. Big". 2. In the Joe the Bartender sketch, frequent customer and drunk Crazy Guggenheim (played by new regular Frank Fontaine) makes his first appearance. Jokes mention Pay TV, Jackie Gleason, and Gleason's co-starring role in the movie "The Hustler"! 3. Wayne Newton sings 2 songs in his first national TV appearance, including "Love Makes the World Go Around" which is done as a production number with dancing and streams of paper. The beginning of the show as always had The June Taylor Dancers and of course the beautiful Glea Girls introduce the commercial sponsors (although the commercials themselves were not included) and Gleason did his monolog, in which he mentioned his disdain that there were 38 more shows to do that season. Funny, but TV series weren't doing 39 shows a year anymore by the 1962-1963 season... Maybe Jackie meant 32!
I remember seeing the Jackie Gleason Show on Showtime sometime during the 80's. I believed they were cleaned up for these broadcasts.
When you say The Jackie Gleason Show aired on Showtime. Kevin, do you mean the color shows videotaped between 1966 and 1970? That was the one in which The Honeymooners was brought back as the principal source of comedy material. Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean played Alice and Trixie. Their was a local Texas station that somebody was kind enough to tape one Jackie Gleason Show for me in its original color form. Unfortunately it was the 1966 Chirstmas episode and the entire hour revolved around The Poor Soul (who never got to speak in those sketches, even in the American Scene seasons) and Jackie's character goes through a winter wonderland. The only dialog was Art Carney's introduction at the beginning of the show following announcer Johnny Olson's usual "From the Sun and Fun Capital of the World -- Miami Beach.....it's The Jackie Gleason Show!" opening before it. I also got to see a few clips of that show from a late 1980s special hosted by Teri Garr called "Jackie Gleason: The Great One" produced shortly after Gleason's death. The main color show clip they aired other than parts of his monologs or The Honeymooners was a bit by Jackie and guests Milton Berle, Orson Welles, and another famous entertainer sitting in rocking chairs and singing about their aging, and how Gleason thinks Miami Beach is better than (in Berle's opinion) Hollywood is.
This was already reported on the Sitcoms Online Blog Family Affair is also coming from MPI. http://sitcomsonline.blogspot.com
Jeff I believe it was his series from the early 50's. It was B&W and had his characters such as The Lost Soul, Reginald Van Gleason, and his bartender character. Also had some original Honeymooners skits.
The only Honeymooners I saw on Showtime were the B+W "Lost Episodes" and that was back in the mid 80's. They were skits of Ralph and the gang made before "The Classic 39". I'd love to see some of those color episodes from the 60's. They were my first introduction to the Honeymooners. Am I right in that they used to break out in song? Or am I mixing that up with the regular Variety show? Ric
Ric, Yes, on the Color Honeymooners (60 minutes, currently airing weekends on American Life TV) they did break out into song. The songs were integrated into the plot. Also, Jackie thanked his co-stars individually at the end of each show.
Paul Brownstein Productions originally marketed The Color Honeymooners seen on Goodlife. He was also attempting to sell full length versions of American Scene Magazine. Let's hope that MPI not only picked up the rights to the color shows, but that wonderful variety hour JG did from 1962-66. I have no doubts that the tapes still exist. Only time will tell.
Showtime also had a series of 13 programs called "Gleason: He's The Greatest". It was comprised of segments from Gleason's CBS variety shows from the 1950's. They didn't use any "Honeymooners" segments, but concentrated on Gleason's opening monolgues and character skits (Charley The Loudmouth, Reginald Van Gleason, Poor Soul etc.). On another note, the Gleason estate has the tapes and kinescopes of practically all of Gleason's CBS outupt. However, the Gleason reps have been characterized as somewhat difficult to deal with combined with some unrealistic financial expectations. It was this posture that delayed the color Honeymooners from airing on Goodlife for almost a year after it was scheduled. Also: 20th Century Fox once owned the distribution rights to the "American Scene Magazine" era. That deal has likely expired by now.
Actually Jeff, there were 26 half-hours produced for Showtime in 1988. Yes, I have also heard that dealing with Gleason lawyers and reps has been difficult. Maybe they are beginning to realize that setting their expectations TOO high isn't such a good plan afterall. There's a market out there for all of this material, it's just a question of not letting the dollar signs get in the way