Jackie Gleason

Comedian + Actor + Musician
Born Feb 26, 1916

John Herbert Gleason known professionally as Jackie Gleason was an American comedian, actor and musician. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, exemplified by his character Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners. Among his notable film roles were Minnesota Fats in the 1961 drama The Hustler and Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and the Bandit series.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Jackie Gleason.


1916 Birth John Herbert Gleason was born in 1916 at 364 Chauncey Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. … Read More
1925 9 Years Old He remembered his father as having "beautiful handwriting", and used to watch him work at the family's kitchen table to write policies in the evenings. On the night of December 14, 1925, Gleason's father disposed of any family photos in which he appeared; just after noon on December 15, he collected his hat, coat, and paycheck, and left the insurance company and his family permanently. … Read More


1935 19 Years Old After his father's abandonment, Gleason was raised by his mother. When she died in 1935 of sepsis from a large neck carbuncle (which young Jackie had tried to lance), Gleason was 19, had nowhere to go and 36 cents to his name. … Read More


1936 20 Years Old …  They were married on September 20, 1936. … Read More
1942 26 Years Old 1 More Event
…  He also had a small part as a soda shop clerk in Larceny, Inc. (1942), with Edward G. Robinson, and a modest part as an actor's agent in the 1942 Betty Grable–Harry James musical Springtime in the Rockies.


1949 - 1950 2 More Events
1952 36 Years Old He framed the acts with splashy dance numbers, developed sketch characters he would refine over the next decade, and became enough of a presence that CBS wooed him to its network in 1952.
1954 38 Years Old Renamed The Jackie Gleason Show, the program became the country's second-highest-rated television show during the 1954–55 season. … Read More
1955 39 Years Old In 1955 Gleason gambled on making it a separate series entirely. … Read More


1956 40 Years Old In 1956 Gleason revived his original variety hour (including The Honeymooners), winning a Peabody Award.
1957 41 Years Old He abandoned the show in 1957 when his ratings for the season came in at #29 and the network "suggested" he needed a break.
1958 42 Years Old He returned in 1958 with a half-hour show featuring Buddy Hackett, which did not catch on. … Read More
1959 43 Years Old Gleason planned the design of the house for two years; it was completed in 1959, but Gleason sold the home when he relocated to Miami. … Read More
1962 46 Years Old In 1962, Gleason resurrected his variety show with more splashiness and a new hook: a fictitious general-interest magazine called The American Scene Magazine, through which Gleason trotted out his old characters in new scenarios.
1963 47 Years Old He also added another catchphrase to the American vernacular, first uttered in the 1963 film Papa's Delicate Condition: "How sweet it is!" The Jackie Gleason Show: The American Scene Magazine was a hit, and continued for four seasons. … Read More
1964 48 Years Old …  By 1964 Gleason had moved the production from New York to Miami Beach, Florida, reportedly because he liked year-round access to the golf course at the nearby Inverrary Country Club in Lauderhill (where he built his final home).


1966 50 Years Old 1 More Event
His closing line became, almost invariably, "As always, the Miami Beach audience is the greatest audience in the world!" In 1966, he abandoned the American Scene Magazine format and converted the show into a standard variety hour with guest performers.
1969 53 Years Old …  In 1969 William Friedkin wanted to cast Gleason as "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1971), but because of the poor reception of Gigot and Skidoo, the studio refused to offer Gleason the lead; he wanted it. … Read More
1970 54 Years Old 1 More Event
A devout Catholic, Halford did not grant Gleason a divorce until 1970. … Read More
1974 58 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1974 Marilyn Taylor encountered Gleason again when she moved to the Miami area to be near her sister June, whose dancers were part of Gleason's shows for many years. … Read More


1978 62 Years Old While touring in the lead role of Larry Gelbart's play Sly Fox in 1978 he suffered chest pains, forcing him to leave the show in Chicago and undergo triple-bypass surgery. … Read More
1987 71 Years Old A year later, on June 24, 1987, Gleason died at his Florida home. … Read More
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