Jackie Gleason
American stand-up comedian
Jackie Gleason
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.
Biography
Jackie Gleason's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Jackie Gleason from around the web
Players Pen: Quotations reveal the challenges of a unique game - Green Bay Press Gazette
Google News - over 5 years
Jackie Gleason "He enjoys that perfect peace, that peace beyond all understanding, which comes at its maximum only to the man who has given up golf." — PG Wodehouse "I never learned anything from a match that I won." — Bobby Jones "Golf is a better
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New Albums From Pistol Annies and Barbra Streisand - New York Times
Google News - over 5 years
On two cuts Chris Botti's silvery trumpet solos evoke the sound of Bobby Hackett with the Jackie Gleason orchestra. The more grandly the music soars (“I'll Never Say Goodbye,” with music by David Shire, from the film “The Promise,” is the killer cut),
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Sitcoms surging this fall - StandardNet
Google News - over 5 years
"All of these women are having their own little story lines and their own little adventures and sometimes you're sort of at the front of the pack in some episodes and sometimes you're not, but that is a huge change from the old standard Jackie Gleason
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Concert calendar - The News-Press
Google News - over 5 years
19, The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach. Matisyahu: Thursday, The Fillmore Miami Beach at Jackie Gleason Theater, Miami Beach. Manu Chao: La Ventura: Friday, Sept. 9, Klipsch Amphitheater at Bayfront Park, Miami Rock the
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Phil Hendrie Visits 'Kevin Pollak's Chat Show' - All Access Music Group
Google News - over 5 years
The wide-ranging interview on "KEVIN POLLAK'S CHAT SHOW" included discussions of HENDRIE's inspirations (LAUREL AND HARDY, LENNY BRUCE, JONATHAN WINTERS and JACKIE GLEASON, of whom HENDRIE said, "He was my Dad, a big man who would come through the door
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Ed Sullivan Comedy Special airing on witf TV - witf.org
Google News - over 5 years
Some of the most renowned comedians that appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show during this time included Richard Pryor, Joan Rivers, Flip Wilson, Alan King, Phyllis Diller, Jackie Gleason, Jackie Mason, Bob Hope, Rodney Dangerfield, George Carlin and Carol
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Patrick McGoohan, Double-Oh Kafka - Pajamas Media
Google News - over 5 years
Submitted for your approval, another CBS television series, The Jackie Gleason Show. It ran throughout the 1960s, but in its place on Friday nights during the summer of 1968, a rather unusual series aired. One that was very, very different from the
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Big, Fat Stereotypes Play Out On The Small Screen - NPR
Google News - over 5 years
Jackie Gleason (right) played Ralph Kramden — a bumbling but loveable overweight husband — in the 1950s sitcom The Honeymooners. Audrey Meadows co-starred as his wife, Alice. Jackie Gleason (right) played Ralph Kramden — a bumbling but
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Critic's Notebook: Lucille Ball, 100 and ageless - Los Angeles Times
Google News - over 5 years
Among the stars of TV's golden age, only Jackie Gleason in his Ralph Kramden suit rivals you for iconic weight. How to account for Lucy's undying appeal, which I imagine will be roughly as appealing and undying a thousand years from now?
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James, Dawson relish physical comedy of 'Zookeeper' - UPI.com
Google News - over 5 years
"I loved Jackie Gleason," he said. "Anyone who was kind of big and could move, I like a lot. But these guys were great with the physical comedy, as well. "I was surprised and a little pissed off, I've got to be honest, that when you bring in such great
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Imagining America - Irish Central
Google News - over 5 years
(Jackie Gleason may have had star billing but to my mind, Carney carried the show). The Honeymooners was one of my favorite shows when I first moved here. I still watch the reruns. So, I'm delighted to have the talented Reeve, who is well up on his
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Movie review: Zookeeper - NewsOK.com
Google News - over 5 years
COLUMBIA PICTURES PHOTO With “Zookeeper,” starring big-guy Kevin James in full Jackie Gleason form, the immediate influences are all too obvious. His upbeat, big-hearted, blue-collar zookeeper Griffin Keyes is a kindred spirit to the actor's earnest ... - -
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DVD Extra: Preminger's head trip - New York Post (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Nowhere else can you see Jackie Gleason take an LSD trip and Groucho Marx (in his final screen appearance at age 78) blissfully toke on a joint, all in a film with a score by Harry Nilsson, costumes by Rudi Gernrich and cinematography by
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Comedian Billy Gardell hits 'Halftime' - Las Vegas Weekly
Google News - over 5 years
My heroes were Jackie Gleason, john Candy, George Carlin and Richard Pryor and I am literally getting to live out most of those dreams. Because of the success of Mike & Molly, I get to do stand up at an awesome level where there's a thousand people a
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Milkin' 'Honey(mooners)' - New York Post
Google News - over 5 years
The pioneering sitcom characters played by Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows (joined here by Ethel Owen, left) will be revived at today's invitation-only reading. The score is by Stephen Weiner and Peter Mills, up-and-comers whose musical "Iron
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Jackie Gleason Rises From the Dead to Explain Broads, Dames, and South Beach - Miami New Times (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
22 2011 at 9:30 AM ​This is the strange but true tale of how I recently spoke with Jackie Gleason, one of the most beloved South Florida entertainers in history. I must admit, it's impossible to exactly explain the logistics, because he's been dead
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Jackie Gleason
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 1987
    Age 70
    A year later, on June 24, 1987, Gleason died at his Florida home.
    More Details Hide Details After a funeral mass at the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Miami, Gleason was entombed in a sarcophagus in a private outdoor mausoleum at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami. Gleason's sister-in-law, June Taylor of the June Taylor Dancers, is buried to the left of the mausoleum, next to her husband, Sol Lerner. 1949–1959 1960–1986 The following songs were recorded for various LP albums, but not included in the final product. However, when the albums were released on CD, these songs were included as extras.
  • 1978
    Age 61
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Gleason initially went to the hospital for chest pains but was treated and released. After he suffered another bout the following week, it was determined that heart surgery was necessary. Gleason delivered a critically acclaimed performance as an infirm, acerbic, and somewhat Archie Bunker–like character in the Tom Hanks comedy–drama Nothing in Common (1986). This was Gleason's final film role. During production he was suffering from terminal colon cancer, which had metastasized to his liver. "I won't be around much longer", he told his daughter at dinner one evening after a day of filming. Gleason kept his medical problems private, although there were rumors that he was seriously ill.
  • FIFTIES
  • 1975
    Age 58
    As a widow with a young son, Marilyn Taylor married Gleason on December 16, 1975; the marriage lasted until his death in 1987.
    More Details Hide Details Gleason's daughter Linda became an actress and married actor-playwright Jason Miller. Their son, Gleason's grandson, is actor Jason Patric. For many years, Gleason would travel only by train; his fear of flying arose from an incident in his early movie career. Gleason would fly back and forth to Los Angeles for relatively minor movie work. After finishing one movie, the comedian boarded a plane for New York. When two of the plane's engines cut out in the middle of the flight, the pilot had to make an emergency landing in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Although another plane was prepared for the passengers, Gleason had had enough of flying. He went into downtown Tulsa, walked into a hardware store, and asked its owner to lend him $200 for the train trip to New York. The owner asked Gleason why he thought anyone would lend a stranger so much money. Gleason identified himself and explained his situation. The store owner said he would lend the money if the local theater had a photo of Gleason in his latest film. But the publicity shots showed only the principal stars. Gleason proposed to buy two tickets to the movie and take the store owner; he would be able to see the actor in action. The two men watched the movie for an hour before Gleason appeared on screen. The owner gave Gleason the loan, and he took the next train to New York.
  • 1974
    Age 57
    In September 1974 Gleason filed for divorce from McKittrick (who contested, asking for a reconciliation). The divorce was granted on November 19, 1975.
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    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.
    More Details Hide Details She had been out of show business for nearly 20 years.
  • 1970
    Age 53
    Ten days after his divorce from Genevieve was final, Gleason and McKittrick were married in a registry ceremony in Ashford, England on July 4, 1970.
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    A devout Catholic, Halford did not grant Gleason a divorce until 1970.
    More Details Hide Details Gleason met his second wife, Beverly McKittrick, at a country club in 1968, where she worked as a secretary.
  • 1969
    Age 52
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Instead, Gleason wound up in How to Commit Marriage (1969) with Bob Hope, as well as the movie version of Woody Allen's play Don't Drink the Water (1969). Both were unsuccessful. Eight years passed before Gleason had another hit film. This role was the cantankerous and cursing but comically inept Texas sheriff Buford T. Justice in the films Smokey and the Bandit (1977), Smokey and the Bandit II (1980) and Smokey and the Bandit Part 3 (1983). He co-starred with Burt Reynolds as the Bandit, Sally Field as Carrie (the Bandit's love interest), and Jerry Reed as Cledus "Snowman" Snow, the Bandit's truck-driving partner. Former NFL linebacker Mike Henry played his dimwitted son, Junior Justice. Gleason's gruff and frustrated demeanor and lines such as "I'm gonna barbecue yo' ass in molasses!" made the first Bandit movie a hit.
  • FORTIES
  • 1966
    Age 49
    Gleason kicked off the 1966–1967 season with new, color episodes of The Honeymooners.
    More Details Hide Details Carney returned as Ed Norton, with MacRae as Alice and Kean as Trixie. The sketches were remakes of the 1957 world-tour episodes, in which Kramden and Norton win a slogan contest and take their wives to international destinations. Each of the nine episodes was a full-scale musical comedy, with Gleason and company performing original songs by Lyn Duddy and Jerry Bresler. Occasionally Gleason would devote the show to musicals with a single theme, such as college comedy or political satire, with the stars abandoning their Honeymooners roles for different character roles. This was the show's format until its cancellation in 1970. (The exception was the 1968–1969 season, which had no hour-long Honeymooners episodes; that season, The Honeymooners was presented only in short sketches). The musicals pushed Gleason back into the top five in ratings, but audiences soon began to decline. By its final season, Gleason's show was no longer in the top 25. In the last original Honeymooners episode aired on CBS ("Operation Protest"), Ralph encounters the youth-protest movement of the late 1960s, a sign of changing times in both television and society.
    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.
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  • 1964
    Age 47
    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).
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  • 1963
    Age 46
    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.
    More Details Hide Details Each show began with Gleason delivering a monologue and commenting on the attention-getting outfits of band leader Sammy Spear. Then the "magazine" features would be trotted out, from Hollywood gossip (reported by comedian Barbara Heller) to news flashes (played for laughs with a stock company of second bananas, chorus girls and dwarfs). Comedian Alice Ghostley occasionally appeared as a downtrodden tenement resident, sitting on her front step and listening to boorish boyfriend Gleason for several minutes. After the boyfriend took his leave, the smitten Ghostley would exclaim, "I'm the luckiest girl in the world!" Veteran comics Johnny Morgan, Sid Fields and Hank Ladd were occasionally seen opposite Gleason in comedy sketches. Helen Curtis played alongside him as a singer and actress, delighting audiences with her 'Madame Plumpadore' sketches with 'Reginald Van Gleason.' The final sketch was always set in Joe the Bartender's saloon, with Joe singing "My Gal Sal" and greeting his regular customer, the unseen Mr. Dennehy (the TV audience, as Gleason spoke to the camera in this section). During the sketch, Joe would tell Dennehy about an article he had read in the fictitious "American Scene" magazine, holding a copy across the bar. It had two covers: one featured the New York skyline and the other palm trees (after the show moved to Florida in 1964). Joe would bring out Frank Fontaine as Crazy Guggenheim, who would regale Joe with the latest adventures of his neighborhood pals and sometimes show Joe his current Top Cat comic book.
  • 1962
    Age 45
    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.
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  • 1959
    Age 42
    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.
    More Details Hide Details His next foray into television was the game show You're in the Picture, which survived its disastrous premiere episode only because of Gleason's humorous on-the-air apology the following week. For the rest of its scheduled run, the program was a talk show named The Jackie Gleason Show.
  • 1958
    Age 41
    He returned in 1958 with a half-hour show featuring Buddy Hackett, which did not catch on.
    More Details Hide Details One of the perks Gleason received from CBS was the network's picking up the tab for his Peekskill, New York "Round Rock Hill" mansion. Set atop a hill on six acres, the complex included a guest house and a round storage building.
  • 1957
    Age 40
    He abandoned the show in 1957 when his ratings for the season came in at #29 and the network "suggested" he needed a break.
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1956
    Age 39
    In 1956 Gleason revived his original variety hour (including The Honeymooners), winning a Peabody Award.
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  • 1955
    Age 38
    In 1955 Gleason gambled on making it a separate series entirely.
    More Details Hide Details These are the "Classic 39" episodes, which finished 19th in the ratings for their only season. They were filmed with a new DuMont process, Electronicam; like kinescopes, it preserved a live performance on film but with higher quality, comparable to a motion picture. That turned out to be Gleason's most prescient move. A decade later, he aired the half-hour Honeymooners in syndicated reruns that began to build a loyal and growing audience, making the show a television icon. Its popularity was such that in 2000, a life-size statue of Jackie Gleason, in uniform as bus driver Ralph Kramden, was installed outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s Gleason enjoyed a secondary music career, lending his name to a series of best-selling "mood music" albums with jazz overtones for Capitol Records. Gleason believed there was a ready market for romantic instrumentals. His goal was to make "musical wallpaper that should never be intrusive, but conducive". He recalled seeing Clark Gable play love scenes in movies; the romance was, in his words, "magnified a thousand percent" by background music. Gleason reasoned, "If Gable needs music, a guy in Brooklyn must be desperate!"
  • 1954
    Age 37
    Renamed The Jackie Gleason Show, the program became the country's second-highest-rated television show during the 1954–55 season.
    More Details Hide Details Gleason amplified the show with even splashier opening dance numbers, inspired by Busby Berkeley screen dance routines and featuring the precision-choreographed June Taylor Dancers. Following the dance performance, he would do an opening monologue. Then, accompanied by "a little travelin' music" ("That's a Plenty", a Dixieland classic from 1914), he would shuffle toward the wings, clapping his hands and shouting, "And awaaay we go!" The phrase became one of his trademarks, along with "How sweet it is!" (which he used in reaction to almost anything). Theona Bryant, a former Powers Girl, became Gleason's "And awaaay we go" girl. Ray Bloch was Gleason's first music director, followed by Sammy Spear, who stayed with Gleason through the 1960s; Gleason often kidded both men during his opening monologues. He continued developing comic characters, including In a 1985 interview, Gleason related some of his characters to his youth in Brooklyn. The Mr. Dennehy whom Joe the Bartender greets is a tribute to Gleason's first love, Julie Dennehy. The character of The Poor Soul was drawn from an assistant manager of an outdoor theater he frequented.
  • 1952
    Age 35
    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.
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  • 1950
    Age 33
    He was working at Slapsy Maxie's when he was hired to host DuMont's Cavalcade of Stars variety hour in 1950, having been recommended by comedy writer Harry Crane, whom he knew from his days as a stand up comedian in New York.
    More Details Hide Details The program initially had rotating hosts; Gleason was first offered two weeks at $750 per week. When he responded it was not worth the train trip to New York, the offer was extended to four weeks. Gleason returned to New York for the show.
  • 1949
    Age 32
    Gleason's big break occurred in 1949, when he landed the role of blunt but softhearted aircraft worker Chester A. Riley for the first television version of the radio comedy The Life of Riley. (William Bendix originated the role on radio but was initially unable to accept the television role because of film commitments.) Despite positive reviews, the show received modest ratings and was cancelled after one year.
    More Details Hide Details Bendix reprised the role in 1953 for a five-year series. The Life of Riley became a television hit for Bendix during the mid- to late 1950s. But long before this, Gleason's nightclub act had received attention from New York City's inner circle and the fledgling DuMont Television Network.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1942
    Age 25
    Gleason did not make a strong impression on Hollywood at first; at the time he developed a nightclub act that included comedy and music. At the end of 1942, Gleason and Lew Parker led a large cast of entertainers in the road show production of Olsen and Johnson's New 1943 Hellzapoppin.
    More Details Hide Details He also became known for hosting all-night parties in his hotel suite; the hotel soundproofed his suite out of consideration for its other guests. "Anyone who knew Jackie Gleason in the 1940s", wrote CBS historian Robert Metz, "would tell you The Fat Man would never make it. His pals at Lindy's watched him spend money as fast as he soaked up the booze." Gleason's first significant recognition as an entertainer came on Broadway when he appeared in the hit musical Follow the Girls (1944). While working in films in California, Gleason also worked at former boxer Maxie Rosenbloom's nightclub (Slapsy Maxie's, on Wilshire Boulevard).
    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.
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  • TEENAGE
  • 1936
    Age 19
    They were married on September 20, 1936.
    More Details Hide Details Halford wanted a quiet home life but Gleason fell back into spending his nights out. Separated for the first time in 1941 and reconciled in 1948, the couple had two daughters (Geraldine and Linda). Gleason and his wife informally separated again in 1951. In early 1954, Gleason suffered a broken leg and ankle on-air during his television show. His injuries sidelined him for several weeks. Halford visited him while Gleason was hospitalized, finding dancer Marilyn Taylor there from his television show. Halford filed for a legal separation in April 1954.
  • 1935
    Age 18
    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.
    More Details Hide Details The family of his first girlfriend, Julie Dennehy, offered to take him in; Gleason, however, was headstrong and insisted he was going into the heart of the city. His friend Sammy Birch made room for him in the hotel room he shared with another comedian. Birch also told him of a one-week job in Reading, Pennsylvania, that would pay $19, more money than Gleason could imagine. The booking agent advanced him bus fare for the trip against his salary. This was Gleason's first job as a professional comedian, and he had regular work in a number of small clubs after that. Gleason worked his way up to a job at New York's Club 18, where insulting its patrons was the order of the day. Gleason greeted noted skater Sonja Henie by handing her an ice cube and saying, "Okay, now do something." It was here that Jack L. Warner first saw Gleason, signing him to a film contract for $250 a week.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1925
    Age 8
    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.
    More Details Hide Details When it was evident he was not coming back, Mae went to work as a subway attendant for the Brooklyn–Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT). After his father left, young Gleason began hanging around on the streets with a local gang and hustling pool. He attended elementary school at P.S. 73 in Brooklyn and attended (but did not graduate from) John Adams High School in Queens and Bushwick High School in Brooklyn. Gleason became interested in performing after being part of a class play; when he left school, he got a job as master of ceremonies at a theater that paid $4 per night. Other jobs he held included working in a pool hall, as a stunt driver, and as a carnival barker. Gleason and his friends made the rounds of the local theaters; he put an act together with one of his friends, and the pair performed on amateur night at the Halsey Theater (where Gleason replaced his friend Sammy Birch as master of ceremonies). He was also offered the same work two nights a week at the Folly Theater.
  • 1916
    Born
    John Herbert Gleason was born in 1916 at 364 Chauncey Street in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
    More Details Hide Details He grew up at 328 Chauncey (an address he later used for Ralph and Alice Kramden on The Honeymooners). Originally named Herbert Walton Gleason Jr., he was baptized John Herbert Gleason. His parents were Herbert Walton "Herb" Gleason, an Irish-American insurance auditor and Mae "Maisie" (née Kelly), from Farranree, Cork, Ireland, Gleason was one of two children; his brother Clemence died of Meningitis at age 14.
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