The Jackie Gleason Show was a series of TV shows aired on the CBS network, starring comedian\actor Jackie Gleason.
Cavalcade of StarsEdit
Originally, the show aired on the DuMont network under the name "Cavalcade of Stars" from June 4, 1949 to September 26, 1952. In 1952, Gleason was given a considerably higher salary and it was renamed "The Jackie Gleason Show."
The series aired on CBS from September 20, 1952 to June 22, 1957.
The Jackie Gleason Show (1961)Edit
In 1961, Gleason appeared on a game show called "You're in the Picture" which only lasted one episode and it was so bad, it lead to him apologizing to his viewers on-air.
Committed to filling a quota of episodes, he renamed the show "The Jackie Gleason Show" which turned into a talk show. It lasted for eight episodes from February 3rd to March 24, 1961.
American Scene MagazineEdit
In 1962, Jackie Gleason returned to the tried-and-true variety format with his American Scene Magazine. The official title of the show was, again called "The Jackie Gleason Show."
During its first year, Gleason's ratings killed the competition: a revived comedy-western-variety program, The Roy Rogers and Dale Evans Show, on ABC and the legal drama Sam Benedict with Edmond O'Brien on NBC.
"American Scene" was initially taped in New York City; after two seasons, production moved to Miami Beach, Florida on Jackie's insistence. (This move caused difficulties for announcer Johnny Olson, who had several other announcing jobs; Olson commuted frequently between New York City and Miami to accommodate Gleason.)
Gleason would begin his monologue each week and be surprised by the flamboyant jackets worn by bandleader Sammy Spear. (Beholding Spear's animal-print blazer, Gleason quipped, "I've heard of Tiger Rag, but this is ridiculous!") Ralph Kramden, Reggie Van Gleason, the Poor Soul, and the rest of Gleason's comic characters were regular attractions. Frank Fontaine, as bug-eyed, grinning "Crazy" Guggenheim, starred in the Joe the Bartender skits, delighting fans with his nutty speaking voice and goofy laugh, and charmed by his surprisingly mellow singing voice. June Taylor's chorus girl routines revived for the television generation the aerial pattern kaleidoscope formations made famous on film by Busby Berkeley.
During this time, Gleason's show finished No. 17 for the 1962-1963 season, No. 15 for 1963-1964, #21 in 1964-1965 and #24 in 1965-1966.
In the fall of 1966, the show titled reverted to simply "The Jackie Gleason Show" (dropping the American Scene format), and would remain so until its cancellation in 1970. By this point episodes included guest stars and skits.
A component during this period was the musical Honeymooners episodes, which had first been tried on Gleason's variety show during the 1956-1957 season. These were later collected as The Color Honeymooners with Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean as Alice and Trixie, respectively. The regular cast included Art Carney; Milton Berle was a frequent guest star.
The show was shot in color on videotape at the Miami Beach Auditorium (today called the Jackie Gleason Theatre of the Performing Arts) and Gleason never tired of promoting the "sun and fun capital of the world" on camera. Hordes of vacationers took Gleason's advice, boosting Florida's economy. Later specials were taped at the Olympia Theatre's Gusman Center across Biscayne Bay in downtown Miami.
The shows began with the television camera in front of a boat speeding toward the shore of Miami Beach, and ended with Gleason bellowing, "Miami Beach audiences are the greatest audiences in the world!"
During this period, "The Jackie Gleason Show" earned three more Emmy nominations for Carney for special classification in 1966 and for variety series and writing in 1967. Carney won two Emmys for his work in 1967 and 1968. The series also ranked at No. 5 in 1966-1967 and No. 9 in 1967-1968.
At the end of the 1968-69 season, "The Jackie Gleason Show" still garnered decent ratings, ranking at No. 25 in the Nielsens and CBS renewed it for an eighth season. The following year would bring a radical change to the series. In 1969, he went on a stringent diet and lost approximately 60 pounds.
When the show returned in September of 1969, there was much publicity about Gleason's new slimmer look. To gracefully incorporate his weight loss into the show, it was explained that Ralph Kramden also had gone on a diet and lost weight.
This proved to be somewhat of a detriment (especially since Art Carney had gained weight). Jokes about Kramden's weight had been a strong component of humor for the Honeymooners sketches. A skinnier Ralph did not seem as funny to viewers and the overall ratings for the program began to slip.
Coupled with the fact that CBS was concerned with demographics and wanted to change its image with more urban-oriented shows (to attract younger audiences), the network not only cancelled Gleason's series in the spring of 1970, but also The Red Skelton Hour and Petticoat Junction as well.
Beginning in late December of 1970, CBS began airing selected reruns of "The Jackie Gleason Show" (featuring only the color "Honeymooners" episodes) in prime time on Sunday nights at 10 p.m. (EST), thereby replacing the short-lived Tim Conway Comedy Hour.