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Where's Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine? (1 Viewer)

Carlos Garcia

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Does anyone remember this classic that ran from 1962-1966? This show was one of Gleason's best shows ever! It featured many of his characters besides Ralph Kramden, such as The Poor Soul, Reginald Van Gleason III, Joe the Bartender and many more. Who can forget the ever memorable Frank Fontaine as the slow witted "Crazy Gugenheim" breaking into song with that wonderful singing voice of his? Joe: "Hey Craze, how 'bout giving us a little song?" There were also several sketches of the Honeymooners scattered throught this series. In the early 80s Gleason authorized half-hour versions of the original 60 minute shows to be re-broadcast for a little while. However, chopping the show up into segments didn't really do the show justice, in my opinion. Does anyone know who currently owns this property, and if there's a chance it will ever be released? I love Jackie Gleason, and I think he did work that was equally good to that of the Honeymooners, which is being ignored by the DVD community. Even the color Honeymooners set, which was recently released, only shows the Honeymooners sketches that were part of the complete Jackie Gleason Show. I really hope someone (Maybe Paul Brownstein) has the presence of mind to work on releasing these shows in their entirety. The TV public deserves to see the true genius that was Jackie Gleason.
 

Roy Wall

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Carlos....I couldn't agree with you more. I hope MPI will mix in a few of the "variety" shows in their Color Honeymooners set....assuming that they will produce more sets beyond volume one.

I don't remember any Gleason programming prior to the Miami shows....so that 1962-1966 set would certainly be a real treat.
 

Steve...O

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I don't remember this from the original run, but I watched the syndicated version and it was every bit as entertaining as you said it was.

If Gleason's legacy is to extend beyond Sheriff Buford T. Justice and the original 39, some of these other shows need to get more exposure.
 

Bert Greene

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I'd love to see that edition of Gleason's variety series. I've never seen it before, not even that later, half-hour syndicated package. I wonder if the musical numbers and necessary clearances might sabotage any potential releases. Anyway, I just picked up the "Color Honeymooners" set yesterday, which looks great. Although I caught most of the episodes on AmericanLife in the past few years, I still wanted to have these handy and in superior dvd quality. Really nice to see the full Glea Girls opening credits, too. I'm sure most Honeymooners fans prefer the classic 39, and although I do as well, I also appreciate the bright, peppy, variety-show ambiance of these later shows. Lots of fun.
 

Charles Ellis

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I've seen the syndicated reruns, and they're something else! I want Joe the Bartender, The Poor Soul, "Crazy" Guggenheim, and Reggie VanGleason III! What's MPI doing about the 1962-66 B/W shows, and the color non-Honeymooners episodes of TJGS??
 

Jeff#

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Are the 1966 to 1970 The Jackie Gleason Show episodes finally now on DVD the full one-hour versions? Keep in mind that The Honeymooners was the main source of comedy material in that final Gleason era of him having a weekly series.

Gleason also headlined Cavalcade of Stars in the last season of that series, and it was in 1951-52 that he created several of his famous characters including Ralph Kramden (with Pert Kelton as the original Alice), The Poor Soul, Rum Dum, Rudy the Repairman, Joe the Bartender, Reggie Van Gleason III, and one character that never made the move with Jackie to the CBS network -- Charlie Bratton (a.k.a. The Loudmouth).

Cavalacade of Stars was on the Dumont Network, where Gleason was only being paid $1600 a week. In the fall of 1952 he moved to CBS, where he started at $8000 a week! The Jackie Gleason Show was on until 1955, at which time he made The Honeymooners into a sitcom of its own. Then back to The Jackie Gleason Show for the 1956-57 season.

Has anyone ever seen tapes of Jackie's first TV variety show comeback in 1958-59? Milton Berle's return to TV that same season last longer! I haven't had the oppotunity to see either, because they're even more rare.
 

Jeff#

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I've seen those too, Charles. You're referring to Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine. It was basically the same as his 1950s series, only show on black & white videotape instead (as most CBS stage shows were by that. A kinescope (?) of the first one from October 1962 circulated on VHS tape back in the 1980s in its full-hour form, guest-starring former regular Art Carney. He played Ed Norton in a 15 minute Honeymooners sketch as the last act of the show. Sue Anne Langdon was just fine as Alice. Patricia Bright was forgettable as Trixie. The bit had Ralph and Ed locking themselves in a bomb shelter! The writers got a President Kennedy joke in. The first sketch "The Retouchables" was a musical parody of The Untouchables with Jackie as Eliot Slesh! Sue Anne played a sexy showgirl who wasn't actually who she appeared to be.

It was in that same series premiere that that revived the Joe the Bartender sketch, with series regular Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim. I'll bet you didn't know that Frank played the same pertually drunken character on The Jack Benny Program on radio in several episodes in the early 1950s, only with a different character name: John Savoni! In the first-ever Crazy Guggenheim appearance, he tells Joe about pay-TV and also puts down Jackie Gleason (whom Joe defends, naturally) about his performance as Minnesota Fats in the feature film "The Hustler". Wayne Newton was the musical guest, making his TV debut.
 

Joe Lugoff

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I was lucky (?) enough to see the one and only episode of "You're in the Picture" the night of January 20, 1961. It was a game show and Gleason was the MC (what a waste of talent!)

It really was as terrible as legend has it. The next week, Gleason sat in a chair for 30 minutes and apologized for it.

Now, Gleason sitting in a chair and just talking was very entertaining. I wouldn't mind seeing that tape again!

Here's more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You're_in_the_Picture

Later that year, Gleason appeared in "The Hustler" and redeemed his reputation.
 

Jeff#

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And don't forget that after the You're in the Picture fiasco, "The Jackie Gleason Show" was a talk show that was a simple one on one interview. Gleason apologizing for his diasterous one-episode game show was the first episode of that series. In the second episode, his first guest on the talk show was Art Carney. I think it lasted almost 2 months.
 

Jeff#

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Some interesting trivia I found:

When I was a little boy I remember seeing at least one of the mid 1970s Honeymooners specials that aired on ABC, all of which also featured Art Carney. All I remember from it was one scene in which Norton opens up a girlie magazine centerfold, and Ralph also fawns over it....his eyes bulging! :D
 

Jeff#

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I'll go on record to say that I never bought any of the 1950s Honeymooners sketches because they were wrongly released as partial episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show. You give me complete hour-long shows like this new 7 & 1/2 hr (nine episodes) release of the 1966-1967 season appears to be, and I'm definitely buying it.
 

Charles Ellis

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Two questions:

1) Were the original B/W "Trip to Europe" shows with Audrey Meadows & Joyce Randolph ever released on DVD?

2) What was the real story about Pert Kelton's departure prior to the CBS move? One book says that it was due to illness (a heart condition), yet in her memoirs Audrey Meadows says that Pert was actually blacklisted by CBS (McCarthyism, natch) and Jackie invented the illness story to save Pert any embarassment so she could still get acting jobs. Does anyone know?
 

Jeff#

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I read something about Pert Kelton's career (which began on celluloid began in the early 1930s) was temporarily derailed for a few years due to her name being put on a blacklist. In 1959 she made a big comeback on Broadway in the original stage production of The Music Man. In 1962 she was in the feature film version, with Ron Howard (then on The Andy Griffith Show) as her son.

I felt that Pert was too whiny and annoying as Alice Kramden, and apparently CBS might have felt the same way which is why Audrey Meadows replaced her in the role. Pert actually guest starred on The Jackie Gleason Show years later. Take a look at this:

Pert's lost role was as Dick Van Dyke's mother in the feature film "The Comic".
 

William B.

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One of Gleason's American Scene Magazine editions from the 1963-64 season (his last in New York before relocating to Miami Beach) was entered into, and won the Bronze Rose at, the 1964 Golden Rose of Montreux festival. His format in that season - which saw selected 'Glea Girls' introduce key sketches, and veered from pre-taped 'blackout' sketches to live-in-studio stuff like Joe the Bartender - seems to have been the genesis for the formula Benny Hill used for his own comedy/variety shows from 1964 onward (especially since several 1964-66 BBC Hill shows had sketches which were introduced by whichever women appeared on any edition in question, i.e. the future Sue McIntosh [then known as Sue Donovan] in a November 1965 special). One wonders if Hill saw that show and decided to copy Gleason's ASM format, especially as the then-new BBC2 ran selected Montreux entrants and winners (including the Gleason show in question) not long after it took to the air.
 

William B.

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The first sketch "The Retouchables" was a musical parody of The Untouchables with Jackie as Eliot Slesh! Sue Anne played a sexy showgirl who wasn't actually who she appeared to be.
Reminds me a bit of Benny Hill's 1977 "Husky and Starch" sketch where "Husky" ended up shooting the wrong woman in a kidnap rescue attempt.

But by the final (1965-66) season, "The Adoption" 3/4 reunion of the '50's Honeymooners cast (Gleason, Art Carney and Audrey Meadows) notwithstanding, the quality (and ratings) of ASM had deteriorated to the point where even Gleason himself admitted that a good amount of those last season episodes looked "like they were made on the way to the men's room" - which reminded me of many of the '80's Benny Hill Shows which not only (in the level of acting performances and also in the material) appeared to have likewise been made on the way to the men's room, but even so far as being written on the way to the men's room. Small wonder that Gleason reorientated his show after 1966.
 

bmasters9

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Ben Masters
What I'd like to know is, where did the Magazine part of the title come from?
 

William B.

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I read something about Pert Kelton's career (which began on celluloid began in the early 1930s) was temporarily derailed for a few years due to her name being put on a blacklist. In 1959 she made a big comeback on Broadway in the original stage production of The Music Man. In 1962 she was in the feature film version, with Ron Howard (then on The Andy Griffith Show) as her son.

I felt that Pert was too whiny and annoying as Alice Kramden, and apparently CBS might have felt the same way which is why Audrey Meadows replaced her in the role. Pert actually guest starred on The Jackie Gleason Show years later. Take a look at this:

Pert's lost role was as Dick Van Dyke's mother in the feature film "The Comic".
Ms. Kelton was indeed blacklisted - and CBS in those days had "loyalty oaths" - this, in the McCarthy era. The party line was that, at the point Gleason moved, Pert had suffered an episode of coronary thrombosis. William Henry III's Gleason bio, The Great One, straddled the fence, claiming her "heart condition" had been aggravated by the blacklist. (I put "heart condition" in quotes due to Ms. Meadows, in her Love, Alice memoir, noting that Gleason told her Pert was in perfect health at the time.)

What I'd like to know is, where did the Magazine part of the title come from?
From what I read, Gleason saw his return to weekly series television in 1962 as a chance to provide a review offering a satire on the cultural scene in America as it stood then. If what I gauged is correct, though, Benny Hill went further with that kind of format (his shows from 1964 onwards had frequent topical references) than Gleason had, given The Great One's revival of The Jackie Gleason Show title / format and emphasizing celebrity guests after 1966.
 

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