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The Honeymooners
The Honeymooners title screen.png
The Honeymooners title screen
Format Sitcom
No. of episodes 39 (List of episodes)
Production
Location(s) Adelphi Theater, Manhattan, New York
Camera setup Three-camera Electronicam
Running time 30 minutes (including commercials)
Broadcast
Original run October 1, 1955 – September 22, 1956 on CBS
Chronology
Related shows The Honeymooners (film)

The Honeymooners is a situation comedy television show, based on a 1951–'55 sketch of the same name, which originally aired on CBS[1] that was created by Jackie Gleason, and shot before a live audience, which debuted as a half-hour series on October 1, 1955. Although initially a ratings success — it was the #2 show in the United States its first season — it faced stiff competition from the Perry Como Show,[2][3] eventually dropped to #19[3][4] (outranking This Is Your Life and Burns and Allen[5]), and ended production after 39 episodes (now referred to as the "Classic 39"). The final episode of The Honeymooners aired on September 22, 1956. Gleason went on to revive The Honeymooners as sketches and hour specials off and on through 1978.

Contents

Cast and characters

The majority of The Honeymooners focused on its four principal characters on fixed sets within a Brooklyn apartment building. Although various secondary characters made multiple appearances and occasional exterior shots were incorporated during editing, virtually all action and dialog was "on stage" inside the normal backdrop.

Ralph Kramden

Played by Jackie Gleason; a bus driver for the fictional Gotham Bus Company. He is never seen driving a bus (except in publicity photos), but is shown multiple times at the bus depot. Ralph is frustrated by his lack of success, and often develops get-rich-quick schemes. Ralph is very short tempered, frequently resorting to insults and hollow threats. Well hidden beneath the many layers of bluster however, is a soft-hearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best pal. Ralph Kramden was the inspiration for the animated character Fred Flintstone. Ralph was an avid bowler.

Alice Kramden

Alice (née Alice Gibson), played in the first seven episodes by Pert Kelton and by Audrey Meadows throughout the rest of the "classic 39", is Ralph's patient but sharp-tongued wife of roughly 15 years. She often finds herself bearing the brunt of Ralph's insults, which she returns with biting sarcasm. She is level headed, in contrast to Ralph's pattern of inventing various schemes to enhance his wealth or his pride; in each case, she sees the current one's unworkability, but he becomes angry and ignores her advice. (And by the end of the episode, her misgivings are almost always proven to have been well-founded.) She has grown accustomed to his empty threats: "... one of these days ... Pow! Right in the kisser! One of these days Alice, straight to the Moon!" She studied to be a secretary before her marriage, and works briefly in that capacity when Ralph is laid off.

Another foil for Ralph is Alice's mother, who is even sharper-tongued than her daughter. She despises Ralph as a bad provider. Alice's father is occasionally mentioned but never seen. Alice's sister, Agnes, appeared in one episode. (Ralph jeopardizes his newlywed sister-in-law's marriage after giving some bad advice to the groom, but all works out in the end.) Ralph and Alice lived with her mother for six years after getting married before they got their own apartment. Ralph's mother is rarely mentioned, but appears in one episode. Ralph's father is never mentioned. In a 1967 revival Ralph refers to Alice (played by Sheila MacRae 1966–'70 and once more in '73) being 1 of 12 children and her father never working.

Edward "Ed" Lillywhite Norton

Played by Art Carney; a New York City sewer worker and Ralph's best friend (and upstairs neighbor). He is considerably more good-natured than Ralph, but nonetheless trades insults with him on a regular basis. Ed (typically called "Norton" by Ralph and sometimes his own wife) often gets mixed up in Ralph's schemes, and his carefree and rather dimwitted nature usually results in raising Ralph's ire, while Ralph often showers him with verbal abuse and throws him out of the apartment when Ed irritates him. Ed and Ralph are both members of the fictional Raccoon Lodge ("An Emergency meeting is an Emergency meeting. An Executive Meeting is a poker game."). According to Entertainment Weekly he is one of the "greatest sidekicks."[6] Ed worked for the NY sewer department and described his job as a "Sub-supervisor in the sub-division of the department of sub-terranian sanitation, I just keep things moving along". He served in the United States Navy, and used his G.I. Bill money to pay for Typing School, but felt he was unable to work in an office as he hated working in confined spaces.

Thelma "Trixie" Norton

Played by Joyce Randolph; Ed's wife and Alice's best friend. She did not appear on every episode and had a less developed character, though she is shown to be bossy towards her husband. In one episode she is depicted as a pool hustler. On another episode, Ralph insults Trixie by making a reference to Minsky's (a burlesque theatre; the original Trixie (played by Elaine Stritch) was a burlesque dancer). There are a few references to Trixie's burlesque background in the lost episodes (e.g, Norton: "Every night I'd meet her backstage and hand her a rose ... It was her costume!"). By the time Randolph played the role, there were no references to any burlesque background. Randolph played Trixie as an ordinary, rather prudish, housewife, complaining to her husband on one occasion when a "fresh" young store clerk called her "sweetie-pie". In a 1967 hour special Trixie (played by Jane Kean from 1966–'70 and 1976–'78) resentfuly denied Ralph's implications that she "worked in burlesque" to which he replied "If the shoe fits, take it off."

Others

Some of the actors that appeared multiple times on the show include George O. Petrie and Frank Marth as various characters, Ethel Waite Owen as Alice's mother, Zamah Cunningham as Mrs. Manicotti, and Cliff Hall as the Raccoon Lodge President.[7]

Ronnie Burns, son of George Burns and Gracie Allen, made a guest appearance as "Wallace" on one episode. Interestingly, on another episode, Ed Norton makes a reference to a co-worker, "Nat Birnbaum"; George Burns's real name was Nathan Birnbaum.

History

Origins

In July 1950, Jackie Gleason took over as the host of Cavalcade of Stars, a variety show that aired on the DuMont Television Network. After a few episodes, Gleason and his writing staff developed a sketch that drew upon familiar domestic situations for its material. Gleason wanted a realistic portrayal of life for a poor husband and wife living in Brooklyn. The couple would fight constantly, but ultimately show their love for each other. After rejecting titles such as "The Beast", "The Lovers", and "The Couple Next Door", Gleason and his staff settled on "The Honeymooners" for the name of the new sketch. Gleason took the role of Ralph Kramden, a blustery bus driver, and he chose veteran comedy movie actress Pert Kelton for the role of Alice Kramden, Ralph's acerbic wife.[8]

"The Honeymooners" made its debut on October 5, 1951, as a six-minute sketch.[9] Cast member Art Carney made a brief appearance as a police officer who gets hit with flour Ralph had thrown out the window. The tone of these early sketches was much darker than the later series, with Ralph exhibiting extreme bitterness and frustration with his marriage to an equally bitter and argumentative middle-aged woman (Kelton was nine years older than Gleason). The Kramdens' financial struggles mirrored those of Gleason's early life in Brooklyn, and he took great pains to duplicate on set the interior of the apartment where he grew up (right down to his boyhood address of 328 Chauncey Street).[9] The Kramdens (and later the Nortons) are childless, an issue never explored, but a condition on which Gleason insisted. Ralph and Alice did legally adopt a baby girl whom they named Ralphina (because he actually wanted a baby boy to which he could name after himself but fell in love with the baby girl that whom the agency had placed with them). The biological mother requested to have her baby back, which the agency asked if the Kramdens would be willing to do even though they were the legal parents of the girl. Ralph agreed and stated that they would visit her and she would have a real life Santa Claus every Christmas.

Early additions to the cast of later sketches were upstairs neighbors Ed and Trixie Norton. Ed (played by Carney) was a sewer worker and Ralph's best friend, although his innocent and guileless nature was the source of many arguments between the two. Trixie Norton (maiden name unknown), Ed's wife, was originally portrayed as a burlesque dancer by Elaine Stritch, but was replaced by the more wholesome looking Joyce Randolph, after just one appearance. Trixie is a foil to Ed, just as Alice does for Ralph, but derivatively, and almost always off-screen.[9][10]

Due in part to the colorful array of characters that Gleason invented (including the cast of "The Honeymooners"), Cavalcade of Stars became a huge success for DuMont. It increased its audience share from nine to 25 percent. Gleason's contract with DuMont expired in the summer of 1952, and the financially struggling network (which folded in the mid-1950s) was unable to re-sign him.

Move to CBS

CBS president William S. Paley convinced Gleason to leave the DuMont Network and bring his show to CBS. In July 1952, the cast of the retitled Jackie Gleason Show embarked on a highly successful five-week promotional tour across the United States, performing a variety of musical numbers and sketches (including the popular "Honeymooners"). Kelton was blacklisted as a suspected communist and replaced on the tour by Beulah actress Ginger Jones, who subsequently was also blacklisted (having earlier been named on the Red Channels blacklist) by CBS, which meant that a new Alice was needed.[10][11]

Jones' replacement was Audrey Meadows, already known for her work in the 1951 musical Top Banana and on Bob and Ray's television show. Before receiving the role, Meadows had to overcome Gleason's reservations about her being too attractive to make a credible Alice. To accomplish this, she hired a photographer to come to her apartment early in the morning and take pictures of her with no make-up on, wearing a torn housecoat, and with her hair undone.[11][12] When the pictures were delivered to Gleason, he looked at them and said, "That's our Alice." When it was explained to him who it was he said, "Any dame who has a sense of humor like that deserves the job."[11] With the addition of Meadows the now-famous "Honeymooners" lineup of Gleason, Carney, Meadows, and Randolph was in place.

The rising popularity of "The Honeymooners" was reflected in its increasing prominence as part of The Jackie Gleason Show. During the first season, it appeared on a regular basis (although not weekly) as a short sketch during part of the larger variety show. The sketches ranged in length from seven to thirteen minutes. For the 1953–54 season, the shorter sketches were outnumbered by ones that ran for a half hour or longer. During the 1954–55 season, most episodes consisted entirely of "The Honeymooners". Fan response was overwhelming. Meadows received hundreds of curtains and aprons in the mail from fans who wanted to help Alice lead a fancier life. By January 1955, The Jackie Gleason Show was competing with (and sometimes beating) I Love Lucy as the most-watched show in the United States. Audience members lined up around the block hours in advance to attend the show.[8]

Before Gleason's initial three-year contract with CBS expired, he was offered a much larger one by CBS and General Motors' Buick division (the carmaker having dropped their sponsorship of Milton Berle's Buick-Berle Show after two seasons on NBC). The three-year contract, reportedly valued at $USD 11 million, was one of the largest in show business history. It called for Gleason to produce 78 filmed episodes of The Honeymooners over two seasons, with an option for a third season of 39 more. He was scheduled to receive $65,000 for each episode ($70,000 per episode in the second season), but had to pay all production costs out of that amount. Art Carney received $3,500 per week, Audrey Meadows received $2,000 per week, and Joyce Randolph (who did not appear in every episode) received $500 per week. Production for The Honeymooners was handled by Jackie Gleason Enterprises, Inc., which also produced the show's lead-in, Stage Show, starring The Dorsey Brothers.[8][9] Reportedly, only Audrey Meadows, who later became a banker, received residuals by inserting language to that effect into her contract.[citation needed]

The first episode of the new half-hour series aired Saturday, October 1, 1955, at 8:30 pm Eastern Time (during prime time), opposite Ozark Jubilee on ABC and The Perry Como Show on NBC. As it was sponsored by Buick, the opening credits originally ended with a sponsor identification by announcer Jack Lescoulie ("Brought to you by ... Your Buick Dealer. And away we go!"), and the show concluded with a brief Gleason sales pitch for the company. All references to the car maker were removed when the show entered syndication in 1957.[12]

Critical reaction to The Honeymooners was mixed. The New York Times and Broadcasting and Telecasting Magazine wrote that it was "labored" and lacked the spontaneity of the live sketches, but TV Guide praised it as "rollicking", "slapsticky" and "fast-paced".[8] In February 1956, the show was moved to the 8 pm(et) time slot, but had already started to lose viewers to the hugely popular Perry Como Show.[2][3] Gleason's writers had also begun to feel confined by the restrictive half-hour format, and Gleason felt that they were starting to run out of original ideas. After just one season, Gleason and CBS agreed to cancel The Honeymooners, which aired its 39th and last original episode on September 22, 1956. In explaining his decision to end the show with $7 million remaining on his contract Gleason said, "the excellence of the material could not be maintained, and I had too much fondness for the show to cheapen it".[8] Gleason subsequently sold the films of the "Classic 39" episodes of the show to CBS for US$1.5 million.[9]

Revivals

One week after The Honeymooners ended, The Jackie Gleason Show returned on September 29, 1956. The "Honeymooners" sketches were soon brought back as part of the revived variety show. When Art Carney left the show in 1957, the sketches ceased production. In 1962, Gleason's variety show returned as Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine. The "Honeymooners" sketches returned as well, whenever Carney was available. Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph were replaced as Alice and Trixie by Sue Ane Langdon and Patricia Wilson, respectively.[9][10]

In January 1966, Meadows returned as Alice for a musical special,The Honeymooners: The Adoption, a re-enactment of a 1955 sketch of the same name. When The Jackie Gleason Show (now based in Miami Beach, Florida) returned in 1966, the "Honeymooners" sketches (now in color for the first time) returned as a series of elaborate musicals. The sketches, which comprised ten of the first season's thirty-two shows, followed a story arc that had the Kramdens and Nortons traveling across Europe after Ralph won a contest (an updated version of a 1957 story arc, with musical numbers added). "The Color Honeymooners", as it has since become known, featured Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean in the roles of Alice and Trixie, respectively (Meadows and Randolph did not want to relocate to Miami). One notable 1967 segment featured the return of Pert Kelton, this time playing Alice's mother, Mrs. Gibson.[9][10]

"The Honeymooners" ended again when The Jackie Gleason Show was canceled in 1970, the result of a disagreement in direction between Gleason and the network. Gleason wanted to continue interspersing "The Honeymooners" within the confines of his regular variety show, while CBS wanted a full-hour "Honeymooners" every week. On October 11, 1973, Gleason, Carney, MacRae and Kean reunited for a "Honeymooners" skit called "Women's Lib" on a Gleason special on CBS. The Kramdens and Nortons were brought back for four final one-hour specials on ABC, which aired from 1976–1978. Alongside Gleason and Carney, Audrey Meadows returned as Alice (for the first time since 1966) while Jane Kean continued to play Trixie. Joyce Randolph, the actress most identified as Trixie, never played the part after the 1950s. These four specials were the final original "Honeymooners" productions.[10]

Production

The Honeymooners was filmed using three Electronicams.

In 1955, many television shows (including The Jackie Gleason Show) were performed live and recorded using kinescope technology, though sitcoms were already largely done on film, e.g., Ozzie and Harriet, My Little Margie, I Married Joan. I Love Lucy, which was recorded directly onto 35 mm film, had influenced television production companies to produce directly on film. For The Honeymooners, Gleason utilized the Electronicam TV-film system, developed by DuMont in the early 1950s, which allowed for a live performance to be directly captured on film. As a result of the superior picture and sound quality afforded by the Electronicam system, episodes of The Honeymooners were much more suitable for rebroadcast than most other "live" shows of the era.[9][10]

All 39 episodes of The Honeymooners were filmed at the DuMont Television Network's Adelphi Theater in New York City, in front of an audience of 1,000. Episodes were never fully rehearsed, as Gleason felt that rehearsals would rob the show of its spontaneity. The result was that while the cast was able to bring a fresh approach to the material, mistakes were often made — lines were either recited incorrectly or forgotten altogether, and actors did not follow the scripted action. To compensate, the cast developed visual cues for each other: Gleason patted his stomach when he forgot a line, while Meadows would glance at the refrigerator when someone else was supposed to retrieve something from it.[12][13]

In contrast to other popular comedies of the era (such as Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), which depicted their characters in comfortable, middle class suburban environments, the set design for The Honeymooners reflected the blue collar existence of its characters. The Kramdens lived in a small sparsely furnished two-room apartment (the main set) in a tenement building at least four stories high (the Kramdens were on the third floor and the Nortons' were one floor above them), badly aired and with insufficient lighting. They used the single main room as the kitchen, dining and living room, and it consisted of a functional table and chairs, a chest of drawers, a curtain-less window (with a view of a fire escape) and an outdated icebox.[9][10][11] One of the few other sitcoms about a blue-collar family was The Life of Riley, whose first season (1949–1950) had actually featured Jackie Gleason in the lead role.

The instrumental theme song for The Honeymooners, "You're My Greatest Love", was composed by Gleason and performed by an orchestra led by Ray Bloch (who had previously served as orchestra leader on Gleason's variety show, as well as The Ed Sullivan Show). Although lyrics were composed, they were never sung. Sammy Spear, who later became Gleason's musical director, provided the arrangement.[14] The music heard in the episodes was not performed during the show, so to enhance the feeling of a live performance for the studio audience an orchestra performed before filming and during breaks.[8] The show's original announcer was Jack Lescoulie, who was also a spokesman for the sponsor, Buick. For the non-sponsored syndicated version, the introduction was voiced by CBS staff announcer Gaylord Avery.

Awards

Art Carney won five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Ed Norton—two for the original Jackie Gleason Show, one for The Honeymooners, and two for the final version of The Jackie Gleason Show. He was nominated for another two (1957, 1966) but lost. Gleason and Meadows were both nominated in 1956 for their work on The Honeymooners. Gleason was nominated for Best Actor – Continuing Performance but lost to Phil Silvers, while Meadows was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role but lost to Nanette Fabray. Meadows was also nominated for Emmys for her portrayal of Alice Kramden in 1954 and 1957.[15][16]

The following table summarizes award wins by cast members, both for The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show.

Actor Awards won Show
Art Carney Emmy, Best Series Supporting Actor (1954) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series (1955) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (1956) The Honeymooners
Emmy, Special Classifications of Individual Achievement (1967) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Special Classification of Individual Achievements (1968) The Jackie Gleason Show
Audrey Meadows Emmy, Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series (1955) The Jackie Gleason Show

Plot

For the full list of episodes, see List of The Honeymooners episodes

Most of The Honeymooners took place in Ralph and Alice Kramden's small sparsely furnished two-room apartment. Other settings used in the show included the Gotham Bus Company depot, the Raccoon Lodge, and on occasion the Nortons' apartment (which was always noticeably better furnished than the Kramdens'). Many episodes began with a shot of Alice in the apartment, awaiting Ralph's arrival from work. Most episodes focused on Ralph and Ed Norton's characters, although Alice played a substantial role. Ed's wife, Trixie, played a smaller role in the series, and didn't appear in every episode as the other three did. Each episode presented a self-contained story, which never carried over into a subsequent one. The show employed a number of standard sitcom clichés and plots, particularly those of jealousy and comic misunderstanding.

The show presented Ralph as an everyman and an underdog who struggled to make a better life for himself and his wife, but who ultimately failed due to his own shortcomings. He (along with Ed) devised a number of get-rich-quick schemes, none of which succeeded. Ralph was quick to blame others for his misfortune, until it was pointed out to him where he had fallen short. Ralph's anger was replaced by short-lived remorse, and he would then apologize for his actions. Many of these apologies to Alice ended with Ralph saying, "Baby, you're the greatest", followed by a hug and kiss.[8][10][11]

In most episodes, Ralph's short temper got the best of him, leading him to yell at others and to threaten physical violence, particularly against Alice. Ralph's favorite threats to her were "One of these days ... one of these days ... Pow! Right in the kisser!" or to knock her "to the Moon, Alice!" (Sometimes this last threat was simply abbreviated: "Bang, zoom!") This has led some to criticize the show as displaying an acceptance of domestic violence.[17][18] Ralph never carried out his threats, however, and others have pointed out that Alice knew he never would.[10][11] In retaliation, the targets of Ralph's verbal abuse often responded by simply joking about his weight, a common theme throughout the series.[10][11] Alice was never seen to back down during any of Ralph's tirades.

Syndication and home video/DVD

The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes DVD

The Honeymooners gained its greatest fame in syndication, where it has aired almost continually since its cancellation. New York's WPIX-TV has aired The Honeymooners nightly and on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day for more than four decades (after initially running in 1957–1958 on WRCA-TV, now WNBC)[19], with occasional breaks, in a marathon titled The Honeymooners' Blowout.[9] BBC2 aired 38 of the original 39 episodes beginning in 1989 and ending in 1991.[10] The show has also aired in Australia, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Suriname.[8] Its current cable television home in the United States is WGN America.

In 1984, the Museum of Television and Radio announced the discovery of four original Honeymooners sketches from the original The Jackie Gleason Show. When they later held a public viewing for three of them, the response was overwhelmingly positive. In January 1985, Gleason announced the release of an additional group of lost episodes from his private vault. As with the previously released sketches, these "lost episodes" were actually kinescopes of sketches from the 1952–55 run of The Jackie Gleason Show.[20]

Gleason sold the broadcast rights to the lost episodes to Viacom, and they were first aired from 1985–1986 as a series of 68 22-minute episodes on the Showtime cable network. They have since joined the original 39 episodes in syndication, and have also been released on VHS and DVD.[20] In September 2004, another "lost" episode was reportedly discovered at the Peabody Award archives in Georgia. This episode, "Love Letter," originally aired on The Jackie Gleason Show on October 16, 1954.[21] It aired for the first time since then on October 16, 2004, its fiftieth anniversary, on TV Land.

CBS Television Distribution (the modern-day successor to Viacom), via CBS Broadcasting, owns the "classic 39" series outright, while the Gleason estate owns the "lost episodes" (although CBSTD does distribute them).

Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD released the six disc-DVD set The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes in November 2003 (only available in Region 1). The set contains all 39 episodes from the series' original 1955–1956 broadcast run. Also included in the set is an edited version of a 1990 anniversary special hosted by Audrey Meadows, as well as original show openings and closings (sponsored by Buick) that were removed when the show entered syndication.

MPI Home Video released the "lost episodes" on DVD in Region 1 in 24 volume collections from 2001–2002. It has subsequently re-released these episodes in six boxed sets featuring all 80 episodes. Unfortunately, both the volumes and the six boxed sets had gone out of print one by one during the course of 2008. At this time, the Lost Episodes of the Honeymooners are no longer available on home video. Some believe MPI's rights to distribute have expired and that CBS and Paramount may be planning a release of this.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 1 13 October 30, 2001
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 2 13 October 30, 2001
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 3 15 January 29, 2002
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 4 15 March 26, 2002
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 5 12 June 25, 2002
The Honeymooners- Lost Episodes Collection 6 12 August 27, 2002

In June 2006, MPI Home Video released The Color Honeymooners – Collection 1 (NTSC and PAL), which collects the "Trip to Europe" story arc presented on The Jackie Gleason Show in 1966. It has since released an additional three volumes featuring additional episodes from this story arc. AmericanLife TV Network is currently airing The Color Honeymooners shows under license from Gleason Enterprises and Paul Brownstein Television.

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The Color Honeymooners- Collection 1 9 June 27, 2006
The Color Honeymooners- Collection 2 9 February 26, 2008
The Color Honeymooners- Collection 3 12 May 27, 2008
The Color Honeymooners- Collection 4 12 August 26, 2008

Impact and legacy

"The Honey-Mousers", showing Ralph Crumden and Ned Morton.

Due to its enduring popularity, The Honeymooners has been referenced numerous times in American pop culture, and has served as the inspiration for other television shows. The show also introduced memorable catchphrases into American culture, such as "Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon!", "One of these days ... one of these days ... Pow! Right in the kisser!" and "Baby, you're the greatest".

  • In 1960, the animated sitcom The Flintstones debuted. Many critics and viewers noted the close resemblance of that show's premise and characters to that of The Honeymooners.[22] Co-creator William Hanna has stated that The Honeymooners was used as a basis for the concept of The Flintstones. On an April 17,1993 episode of "The 700 Club", Howard Barbara stated that the "Flintstones" were based on, "The Honeymooners", and that "Top Cat" was based on "The Bowrey Boys". Mel Blanc, the voice of Barney Rubble, was asked to model Barney's voice after Ed Norton, but reportedly refused. Gleason later said that he had thought about suing, but decided not to as he did not want to be the person responsible for having the show pulled off the air.[23][24]
  • Episode 22 of Saturday Night Live (originally aired May 29, 1976) spoofs the show with the Bees playing the characters. John Belushi played Ralph, Dan Aykroyd played Norton and Gilda Radner played Alice.
  • The 1990 Sitcom Dinosaurs (TV series) bears a strong resemblance to The Honeymooners, particularly parents Earl and Fran.
  • The sitcom King of Queens was inspired partly by The Honeymooners.[25] In a 2001 episode of the show ("Inner Tube"), Doug Heffernan (played by Kevin James) dreams that he is Ralph Kramden, his wife Carrie (played by Leah Remini) is Alice Kramden, and his friend Deacon Palmer (played by Victor Williams) is Ed Norton. The sequence was filmed in black-and-white and the audio quality (including the audience) matches a '50s style.
  • In 1999, TV Guide published a list titled "TV's 100 Greatest Characters Ever!" Ed Norton was #20, and Ralph Kramden was #2.[11]
  • In 2002, The Honeymooners was listed at #3 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time.
  • The show was parodied in a series of animated Looney Tunes shorts, in which the principal characters are depicted as mice and Ralph's "big dream" is to get enough cheese to impress Alice. These cartoons are The Honey-Mousers (1956), Cheese It, the Cat! (1957), and Mice Follies (1960). In this, the characters are Ralph Crumden; and Ned Morton; whilst their wives retain the names of Alice and Trixie.[26] Human caricatures of Ralph and Ed are pitted against Bugs Bunny in the 1956 Warner cartoon Half-Fare Hare. In one Sylvester and Tweety cartoon — in which Granny gets rousted out of her house by the big bad wolf, only to get the wolf in the end — Granny (voiced by June Foray) hollered, "One of these days ... one of these days ... Pow! Right in the kisser!" And in another cartoon, when Sylvester falls into an open manhole, inside we hear a voice like Ed Norton's say "Hey, look at this, Ralph, a pussycat". To which, Sylvester simply peers out of the sewer to the audience. Norton was also parodied by Bugs Bunny at the end of Wideo Wabbit. All of these cartoon incarnations of Kramden and Norton were voiced by impressionist Daws Butler.
  • As Ralph Kramden was a New York City bus driver, one of the service depots in Brooklyn was renamed the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in 1988. All buses that originate from the bus depot bear a sticker on the front that has a logo derived from the 'face on the Moon' opening credits of The Honeymooners. The MTA also took 1948 GM-TDH5101 bus number 4789, renumbered it to 2969 and made it the 'official Jackie Gleason bus'.
  • A statue of Gleason as Ralph Kramden stands at the Eighth Avenue entrance to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The plaque on the base of the statue reads, "Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden — Bus Driver — Raccoon Lodge Treasurer — Dreamer — Presented by the People of TV Land"[27]
  • An episode ("A Trip To The Moon") of the 1980s detective spoof Moonlighting features lead characters David Addison, Maddie Hayes, Agnes Dipesto, and Richard Addison performing a Honeymooners re-creation.
  • Comedian Joe Piscopo released the song "Honeymooners Rap" in 1985, in which he impersonated Ralph Kramden while Eddie Murphy supplied the voice for Ed Norton.
  • A Tribe Called Quest's song What contains the line "What's Ralph Kramden, if he ain't yellin', at Ed Norton, what's coke snortin'?"
  • The Honeymooners was spoofed in an episode of Perfect Strangers as a result of the character Balki Bartoukomos (Bronson Pinchot) spinning an extended metaphor about the characters' situation to an episode of The Honeymooners he had once seen; Balki's description of the episode is shown in a black-and-white flashback. Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) portrayed Ralph Kramden and Balki portrayed Ed Norton.
  • That's My Bush!, a live-action political satire/sitcom created by Trey Parker and Matt Stone ended each episode with George W. Bush saying "One of these days Laura, I'm gonna punch you in the face.", as an homage to the character Ralph Kramden.
  • In the Pinky and the Brain episode "Win Big", Pinky repeatedly says, "Bang, zoom, right in the kisser!" after watching The Honeymooners. Later in the episode, the knowledge of the origin of this phrase plays a part in Brain's attempt at world domination. The entire plot of the episode also seems to parody the Classic 39 episode The $99,000 Answer, especially in how the episode ends, when Brain attributes the Honeymooners line in his final question to Pinky.
  • In the Futurama episode "The Series Has Landed", Fry witnesses the future's interpretation of The Honeymooners. "Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon!" was thought by the people in the year 3000 as a representation of man's desire to travel to space. Fry correctly notes that the quote was actually "a metaphor for beating his wife". In the episode "Spanish Fry", one of the aliens also refers to the catchphrase — "One of these days Ndnd ... Bang, zoom, straight to the third moon of Omicron Persei 8!"
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Fat Guy Strangler", Lois Griffin's brother, Patrick, who has been in an asylum for most of his life for killing some fat men, and of whose existence Lois was ignorant her whole life, was traumatized as a child when he walked in on his mother having oral sex with Jackie Gleason, who ejaculates off-camera while saying his catchphrase, "Pow! Right in the kisser!" Peter Griffin triggers Patrick's killing spree by wearing a bus driver's uniform identical to the one Gleason wore on The Honeymooners. After Patrick is caught, he is left traumatized again at the end of the episode by Peter's endlessly repeating the phrase "Pow! Right in the kisser!". Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane has said that Gleason was an influence for Peter's character.[28] In another Family Guy episode titled "PTV", when Peter is sitting on the couch watching the TV and the FCC is censoring everything that may be offensive, Brian states that there was something weird about that Honeymooners episode he watched that day and it cuts to a scene where Jackie Gleason's character is saying "One of these days Alice, one of these days!" and the voiceover replacement says "I'm going to stimulate the economy by buying an American Car." In the episode North by North Quahog, The Honeymooners is parodied in a flashback, as Jackie Gleason is shown finally punching his wife Alice after she mocks him for not fulfilling his physical threats.
  • In the "Stan of Arabia (Part 1)" episode of American Dad! (another MacFarlane creation), Stan Smith uses the "Pow! Right in the kisser!" line to threaten his wife Francine, only with a gunshot to the ceiling replacing the word "pow".
  • The 1985 film Back to the Future features a scene set in 1955, where the family of Lorraine Baines is watching The Honeymooners episode "The Man from Space". This is technically an anachronism, however, as the scene takes place in November, while that episode did not air until December 31. Earlier in the movie, Marty McFly's family was watching a rerun of the same episode over dinner in 1985; he is thus able to identify the episode (which was supposedly being aired for its first time) as a "rerun".
  • The 1989 film True Love contains numerous references to the Honeymooners and the Original 39, including a clip of the Hucklebuck dance from the episode "Young at Heart" shown on a television in a neighborhood bar.
  • In the Two and a Half Men episode It Was Mame, Mom, while Alan and Charlie pretend to be gay, Alan says that Charlie was the only gay in America to dress himself like Ralph Kramden, to which Charlie replies: "To the Moon, Alan!"
  • Louis C.K. has stated in an interview that he based the layout of Louie's apartment in Lucky Louie on the Kramdens' apartment, in contrast to other shows like The King of Queens that have very nicely decorated apartments on low incomes.[29]
  • Two remote-sensing cameras on the New Horizons space probe to the dwarf planet Pluto are named "Ralph" and "Alice".
  • On January 15, 2007, the clip-art comic strip Partially Clips featured a reference to The Honeymooners.
  • On June 1, 2007, FOX aired a special of TV's Funniest Moments. A clip from the episode titled The $99,000 Answer was on the list. It was when Ralph identifies the composer of Swanee River as being "Ed Norton".
  • A parody of the show was done on The Big Gay Sketch Show, where Alice (Nicol Paone) was the lesbian lover of the butch Gleason-esque lesbian Rhonda Cramden (Julie Goldman). The plot revolved around Alice never going out with Rhonda and insists that Rhonda get her a "black and white TV with rabbit ears". So she asks Ed Norton (Stephen Guarino), apparently a homosexual who performs sexual acts on homeless sewer dwellers, to get her one. But he ends up bringing Rhonda an African-American transvestite in a white dress and rabbit ears (Dion Flynn). When Alice sees the transvestite, he responds by going "What the fuck is that?!", and then explains that she meant a television, not a transvestite. When Rhonda says that she sold her bowling to get the transvestite, the two make up and kiss in the tradition of the show it parodies.
  • In the 1998 Film "Half Baked" A music video featuring (parody) rapper Sir Smoke-A-Lot contains the line "I wanna talk to Sampson! Fly me to the moon like that bitch Alice Kramden!" in a reference to purchasing marijuana and getting high.

The success of The Honeymooners in countries outside the United States has led to the production of new shows based entirely on it. In 1994, the Dutch broadcasting network KRO produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Toen Was Geluk Heel Gewoon ([Back] then happiness was very common), using translated scripts of the original series but changing its setting to 1950s Rotterdam. After the original 39 scripts were exhausted, the series' lead actors, Gerard Cox and Sjoerd Pleijsier, took over writing, adding many new characters and references to Dutch history and popular culture. The series was a hit in the Netherlands and it finished its run after 16 years and 229 episodes in June 2009.[30]

In 1994, the Swedish network TV4 produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Rena Rama Rolf, but changing its to modern-day Gothenburg, Rolf (Ralph) is working as a streetcar driver. The show ran until 1998.[citation needed]

In 1998, the Polish network Polsat produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Miodowe lata, using both translated scripts of the original series and new ones, but changing its setting to modern-day Warsaw. The original series ran until 2003 and was continued in 2004 as Całkiem nowe lata miodowe.[31]

On June 10, 2005, a feature film remake of The Honeymooners was released, featuring a predominantly African American cast. The roles of Ralph, Alice, Ed, and Trixie were played by Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union, Mike Epps, and Regina Hall, respectively. The movie was a critical and commercial failure, earning slightly more than US$13 million worldwide.[32] The film was released by Paramount Pictures, a subsidiary of Viacom, at the time also the parent of CBS.

In 1988, software company First Row Software released a Honeymooners videogame for Commodore 64 and DOS systems.

In 1985, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts released an album titled "Glorious Results of a Misspent Youth", which was taken from the famous poolroom/Harvey episode. The Blackhearts' guitarist at the time, Ricky Byrd, is a big Honeymooners fan.

Episodes

Additional reading

  • Katsigeorgis, John (2002). To The Moon: The Honeymooners Book of Trivia – Official Authorized Edition. Metrobooks. ISBN 1-58663-694-4.
  • McCrohan, Donna and Peter Crescenti (1986). The Honeymooners Lost Episodes. Workman Publishing. ISBN 0-89480-157-0.
  • Meadows, Audrey (1994). Love, Alice: My Life as a Honeymooner. Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-59881-7.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.tv.com/search.php?type=11&stype=all&tag=search%3Bfrontdoor&qs=The+Honeymooners
  2. ^ a b Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (1999). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (7th ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 464. ISBN 0345429230. 
  3. ^ a b c Jones, Gerard (1993). "Sweet Subversion". Honey I'm Home!: Sitcoms – Selling the American Dream. MacMillan. p. 112. ISBN 0312088108. 
  4. ^ Brooks; Marsh, "Top-Rated Programs by Season", p.1245
  5. ^ http://www.classictvhits.com/tvratings/1955.htm
  6. ^ Ben Schott, Schott's Mischellany Calendar 2009 (New York: Workman Publishing, 2008), March 21.
  7. ^ ""The Honeymooners" (1955) – Full cast and crew". Imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042114/fullcredits#cast. Retrieved 2008-08-08. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h McCrohan, Donna (1978). The Honeymooners' Companion – The Kramdens and the Nortons Revisited. New York: Workman Publishing. ISBN 0894800221. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Simon, Ron. "The Honeymooners". The Museum of Broadcast Communications. http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/H/htmlH/honeymooners/honeymooners.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Lewisohn, Mark. ""BBC Guide to Comedy – The Honeymooners"". BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/guide/articles/h/honeymoonersthe_7773430.shtml. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h Gehring, Wes (November 2001). ""'The honeymooners' turns 50: a half-century after they first arrived on TV screens, Ralph and Alice Kramden and Ed Norton continue to delight audiences on countless late-night reruns"". USA Today. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1272/is_2678_130/ai_80533094. Retrieved 2006-12-06. 
  12. ^ a b c Boudreaux, Jonathan (November 12, 2003). "The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes DVD Review". tvdvdreviews.com. http://www.tvdvdreviews.com/honeymooners.html. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  13. ^ ""Classic TV At Its Best"". http://www.buyersmls.com/americantv/honey.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  14. ^ ""Jackie Gleason"". http://www.spaceagepop.com/gleason.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  15. ^ "1956 Emmy Awards". http://www.imdb.com/Sections/Awards/Emmy_Awards/1956. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  16. ^ "Art Carney at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". http://www.emmys.org/awards/halloffame/carney.php. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  17. ^ Idaho Council On Domestic Violence And Victim Assistance (1999-10-03). ""Take time this month to reflect on effects of domestic violence and work to end it!" (editorial)". The Idaho Statesman. http://www2.state.id.us/crimevictim/news/news.cfm?category=2&chapter=46&article=85. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  18. ^ Michalski, Thomas (November 23, 2006). ""Various agencies help crack down on domestic violence"". Pinellas Park Beacon. http://www.tbnweekly.com/content_articles/112306_par-04.txt. Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  19. ^ WRCA-TV (now WNBC) was the first New York station to air The Honeymooners, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. during the 1957–58 season, as per contemporary New York-Metropolitan Edition issues of TV Guide. WPIX first aired the show at the start of the 1958–1959 season.
  20. ^ a b Kaplan, Peter W. (January 26, 1985). ""75 'Honeymooners' Episodes Found"". The New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9503EEDE123BF935A15752C0A963948260. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  21. ^ ""'Lost' episode of 'Honeymooners' uncovered". http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6084803/. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  22. ^ "The Honeymooners on TV Heaven". http://www.televisionheaven.co.uk/honeymooners.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-07. 
  23. ^ "The Flintstones Frequently Asked Questions List (item 13)". http://www.topthat.net/webrock/faq/faq13.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  24. ^ "The Flintstones Frequently Asked Questions List (item 14)". http://www.topthat.net/webrock/faq/faq14.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  25. ^ "The King of Queens – About the Show". http://www.sonypictures.com/tv/shows/kingofqueens/about.php. Retrieved 2006-11-25. 
  26. ^ "The Honey-Mousers". http://www.toonopedia.com/honeymou.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-23. 
  27. ^ ""Ralph Kramden Statue"". http://www.roadsideamerica.com/sights/sightstory.php?tip_AttrId=%3D12510. Retrieved 2006-11-30. 
  28. ^ Chayes, Matt (September 19, 2003). ""All in the Family Guy: MacFarlane tells all"". Pipe Dream. http://www.bupipedream.com/091903/release/r1.htm. Retrieved 2006-12-11. 
  29. ^ Hagan, Joe (January 21, 2006). ""HBO tries to revive the sitcom. But can foul-mouthed Louis C.K. thrive in a feel-good genre?"". Wall Street Journal. http://www.opieanthony.net/showthread.php?t=8831. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  30. ^ ""KRO Produces A Dutch Version of The Honeymooners"". http://www.honeymooners.net/kro.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  31. ^ Meils, Cathy (October 26, 1998). ""'Honeymooners' intro'd by Polsat"". Variety.com. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117481773.html?categoryid=14&cs=1. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 
  32. ^ "The Honeymooners at boxofficemojo.com". http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=honeymooners.htm. Retrieved 2006-11-26. 

External links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Honeymooners is a 1950s TV sitcom that spun off from The Jackie Gleason Show. Herein, Gleason's character, Ralph Kramden, a bus driver from Brooklyn, and his best friend, Ed Norton (played by Art Carney), keep engaging in a slew of hair-brained schemes to strike it rich, while their wives look on with tired patience.

Contents

Ralph Kramden

  • One of these days... One of these days... (He shoots his fist up) POW! Right in the kisser!
  • Hamina-hamina-hamina-hamina.
  • (To Norton) You... are a mental case.
  • (To Alice's mother after she gives away the mystery ending of a play Ralph was planning to go to that evening) YOU ARE A BLABBERMOUTH! A BLAAAAAAAAAAABBERMOUTH!!
  • (To Alice) Baby, you're the greatest.
  • I've got a BIG MOUTH!!
  • To the moon, Alice!
  • How sweet it is!
  • A mere bag of shells.
  • My string of poloponies.
  • Pins and needles, needles and pins. It's a happy man that grins.

Ed Norton

  • (about Ralph) Sheesh! What a grouch!
  • Hey, Ralphie boy!
  • (Norton is teaching Ralph how to play golf) First, you step up and address the ball. (To golf ball) Hello, ball!
  • In the words of the immortal bard, Shakespeare, "There are three times in a man's life when he wants to be alone: one, when he's communing with his thoughts; two, when he's being tender with his wife; and three, when he's in the isolation booth on The $64,000 Question."
  • Like we say in the sewer: "Time and tide wait for no man."
  • (In response to Ralph being temporarily laid off) I know just how you feel because I went through the same thing two or three years ago when they laid me off from the sewer. I felt just like a fish out of water.
  • (Norton has been fired from his job) Ol' Ed Norton, reliable ol' Ed Norton, working 17 years in the sewer. And now everything's down the drain!
  • "Ralph, dont touch me. I'm sterile"

Alice Kramden

  • Only myself to blame. My mother warned me.
  • (To Ralph): Ahhhh, shaddap!

Trixie Norton

Dialogue

  • Alice: I'll go fix my lipstick. I won't be gone long, Killer. I call you Killer 'cause you slay me.
    Ralph: And I'm calling Bellevue 'cause you're nuts!
  • (Ralph can't remove a ring from his finger)
    Ralph: We got any lard laying around here?
    Alice: Yeah, about 300 pounds.
    Ralph: Oh, you're gonna get yours!
  • Ralph: Me and my silly pride. Well, I promise you this, Norton: I'm gonna learn. I'm gonna learn from here on out how to swallow my pride.
    Norton: Well, that ought not to be too hard; you've learned how to swallow everything else.
    Ralph: GET OUT!
  • Ralph: Peanuts! Peanuts, Alice! What am I supposed to do with peanuts?
    Alice: Eat 'em, like any other elephant!
  • Ralph: You're the type of person that would bend waaaaay over to pick up a purse on April Fools day. I wouldn't.
    Alice: You couldn't.
  • (Ralph is outraged that he and Alice now have a phone)
    Ralph: What's the matter, is yelling out the window too good for you now? Was it raining out?
    Alice: Yelling out the window is bad manners.
    Ralph: Don't you make any nasty remarks about my mother. She's been yelling out the window for 80 years!
    Alice: Yeah? And before she lost her voice, there were more people listening to her than to Amos 'n' Andy.
  • Ralph: Don't start that again, Alice. No wife of mine is gonna work. I got my pride. You know, no Kramden woman has ever supported her husband. The Kramden men are the workers in the family.
    Alice: Wait a minute, Ralph. What about your father? For a long time there he didn't work at all.
    Ralph: But neither did my mother. At least he kept his pride, Alice. He went on relief.
  • Alice: What am I supposed to tell my mother when you're not here?
    Ralph: I don't care. Tell her I joined the circus.
    Alice: What as, an elephant?
    Ralph: Oh, you're a riot, Alice, a regular riot. I'll bet you got the whole building laughing. Ha, ha, ho, ho! You know, you're the one ought to join the circus. You ought to be in the circus. You'd be funnier than that Emmett Kelly, the clown they got there. Much funnier. In fact, you look a little bit like him. All except for one thing: the big red nose.
    [cocks his fist at Alice]
    And you might get that before this is over.
  • [Ralph is trying to assert his intentions on staying in their frozen, candlelit apartment to Alice, after their apartment's heat and electricity had been cut off]
    Ralph: I'm the general. And what I say goes!
    Alice: (dripping sarcasm) Then you better say, "Alice," 'cause I'm goin'!
  • Norton: Ralph?
    Ralph: What?
    Norton: Mind if I smoke?
    Ralph: I don't care if you burn.
  • [Ralph and Norton are reading scripts for a play they're rehearsing for]
    Norton: (reading from the script) I don't possess a mansion or a villa in France or a yacht or a string of poloponies.
    Ralph: (reading) I'm glad to hear...
    [He stops suddenly]
    "A string of poloponies"? Where do you see that?
    Norton: (pointing) Right there, "a string of poloponies".
    Ralph: That's "a string of POLO PONIES"!

External links

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