Jackie Gleason

Jackie Gleason

American comedian, actor and musician
Date of Birth: 26.02.1916
Country: USA

Biography of Jackie Gleason

Jackie Gleason was an American comedian, actor, and musician, known for his bold and brash style of performance, especially in his portrayal of Ralph Kramden in the sitcom "The Honeymooners". His most popular film roles include Minnesota Fats in the drama "The Hustler" (1961) alongside Paul Newman and Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the comedy "Smokey and the Bandit" (1977).

Jackie Gleason

Early Life and Career:
Born Herbert Walton Gleason, Jr. on February 26, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York, Jackie Gleason was baptized as John Herbert Gleason. Both of his parents were Irish immigrants, and when he was just nine years old, his father abandoned the family. Jackie was raised by his mother, Mae Gleason, who passed away when he was 19 years old. Despite providing him with a religious upbringing and raising him as a devout Catholic, Mae couldn't control Jackie's academic failures. He was a troublemaker and a delinquent during his school years. From the age of six, when his father took him to see a musical for the first time, Jackie knew he wanted to be an artist, and school was merely an obstacle in his path. His teachers celebrated the day Gleason dropped out of school.

Jackie Gleason

In 1934, during the Great Depression, an 18-year-old Jackie Gleason found stable work performing in vaudeville and burlesque shows throughout New York. He often did two or three shows a night, quickly gaining popularity and becoming one of the most sought-after comedians in The Empire, a Broadway theater. The most important thing Gleason learned during this time was that there were no set rules or scripts in his profession, and he had to rely solely on his own talent for improvisation.

Hollywood Career and Personal Life:
After the death of his mother, Jackie moved to Manhattan and continued to work diligently, performing in Jersey, Brooklyn, Philadelphia, and popular clubs on Long Island. In 1936, he married Genevieve Halford, and they spent their honeymoon at The Empire. From this time onwards, he received glowing reviews in the press and offers to perform in upscale clubs on Fifth Avenue. Jack Warner, one of the founders of Warner Bros. Studios, saw Gleason's performances and offered him a contract in Hollywood, which he couldn't refuse.

By 1941, Gleason had two daughters with his wife, who remained in Long Island while he lived alone in Hollywood. He filmed during the day and performed in clubs in the evenings, eventually making eight almost forgotten movies. Returning to Broadway, where he was adored, Jackie made a significant breakthrough in 1949 when he played the lead role in "The Life of Riley" on television. This show marked the beginning of Jackie Gleason's triumphant march across the nation's television screens. "The Frank Sinatra Show," "Cavalcade of Stars," "The Best of Broadway," "Studio One," the immensely successful "The Honeymooners," and finally "The Jackie Gleason Show" (which ran intermittently from 1952 to 1957 and 1966 to 1970) and other personal television programs made him a top-tier star. Television and sketch shows were a perfect fit for his unique comedic talent.

Jackie Gleason's Legacy and Later Years:
Throughout his career, Jackie Gleason appeared in over 50 film and television roles, continuing to act until his passing. He released his last film, the comedy "Nothing in Common," in 1986, just a year before his death, while he was already seriously ill. Gleason was also a talented musician, having released around 50 albums.

In 1970, he divorced his first wife and moved to Florida, where he remarried ten days later to Beverly McKittrick. They were together for five years before divorcing. Three weeks after his second divorce, Jackie married actress Marilyn Taylor. This marriage lasted 11 years until Gleason's death. In 1978, he underwent coronary bypass surgery, and in 1986, he was diagnosed with diabetes and phlebitis. However, he knew his condition was much more serious as he was also diagnosed with liver cancer and colorectal cancer. Additionally, he was a heavy drinker and smoked five packs of cigarettes a day.

On June 24, 1987, Jackie Gleason passed away at the age of 71 in his Florida home.