was originally created as a sketch idea to be included on the Cavalcade of Stars
, a popular variety show on the small, now defunct DuMont
In 1950, nightclub and Broadway comedian Jackie Gleason became the regular host of the Cavalcade of Stars
. After a few shows, Gleason created a new sketch idea and a new character for himself. His idea, which was augmented by the Cavalcade writers and better developed over time, revolved around a working class couple in Brooklyn. The first Honeymooners sketch lasted less than five minutes, and many of the subsequent ones were not much longer, but the down-to-earth situations and everyman characters touched a chord in the American people, and The Honeymooners
People understood and empathized with the big-mouthed bus driver Ralph Kramden, his level-headed wife Alice, and their friends and neighbors, the Nortons.
Gleason left the Cavalcade of Stars
in 1952 and moved with the Honeymooners to his own show, The Jackie Gleason Show
, on CBS
. Art Carney and Joyce Randolph, who played Ed and Trixie Norton, moved with Gleason to the new show. Pert Kelton, the original Alice, did not and was replaced by New York actress Audrey Meadows. The Honeymooners
continued to grow in popularity, and the sketches became longer and it became so popular that after four years as a sketch within a show, CBS
decided to make it a show in its own right.
Thirty-nine classic episodes were made of The Honeymooners
during the 1955-56 season. The Honeymooners
used the same principal cast, but the filming was not shown live as it was on The Jackie Gleason Show
(though it was still filmed in front of an audience). The characters, too, were always the same except for slight variations over the years. Even with this, though, The Honeymooners
suffered in the ratings, which was due in a large part to its scheduling, and Gleason broke his contract for another season of the Honeymooners. Instead he opted to return to his highly popular variety format of The Jackie Gleason Show
. The Honeymooners
show was off the air, but regular Honeymooners sketches continued on The Jackie Gleason Show
off and on until 1970, with the cast occasionally changing. Throughout the seventies infrequent Honeymooners specials were broadcast. Soon after the finish of the classic thirty-nine episodes in 1956, Gleason, who owned the rights to the thirty-nine episodes, sold them to CBS
, who before long had them syndicated. Honeymooners' re-runs have remained popular since then. Classic 40/44 (including Songwriters & 99 Year Lease shows) remain in regular syndication across North America to this day. It's also regularly shown in many countries around the world.
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