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1) When Jackie Gleason met Audrey Meadows for the first time, he thought she was all wrong for the part of Alice Kramden—she was too pretty, too young and much too charming. So Meadows went home and had several pictures taken in her apartment wearing old clothes and curlers sans make-up. When shown the pictures, Gleason didn’t even recognize her, but exclaimed: “That’s our Alice! Who is she?”
2) ‘The Honeymooners’ was broadcast from New York City at Studio 50 on 53rd Street and Broadway. ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ also aired from Studio 50 and the place has since been renamed ‘The Ed Sullivan Theater’, where David Letterman worked for many years. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.
3) ‘The Honeymooners’ originally began as a small segment of ‘The Jackie Gleason Show’, which first aired in 1952. Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden became so popular that three years later, Gleason stopped filming his variety show and began the half-hour situation comedy—and those are the 39 episodes seen most often.
4) The first Alice Kramden was played by Pert Kelton who was blacklisted during the Red Scare and let go by the network. In deference to the actress, Gleason told his team that Kelton was ill.
5) Prior to one show, Meadows had an allergic reaction to some shrimp—her eye swelled up. Gleason, ever the improviser, wrote four lines of dialogue to cover the problem:
Trixie: What happened to your eye?
Alice: I forgot to do the laundry.
Alice: Ralph threw his socks at me.
6) As the show grew more and more popular on Saturday nights, the fan mail increased. Letters poured in from all over the country with fans enclosing hundreds of kitchen curtains and aprons hoping to cheer up Alice who was stuck in that dingy apartment. One woman even enclosed a dime instructing Alice to buy a new curtain rod as it would be too cumbersome to send in the mail.
7) The Kramdens lived at 328 Chauncey Street in Bensonhurst, a borough of Brooklyn. Growing up, Gleason also lived in an apartment on Chauncey Street, but in Brooklyn’s Bushwick area—a poor section of town. He modeled the Kramdens’ apartment after his own boyhood residence.
8) After each performance, Gleason sent one dozen roses to every woman appearing in the show.
9) Audrey Meadows always wore flats when playing Alice Kramden so she would appear shorter than her onscreen husband. She was five foot six to Gleason’s five foot nine.
10) Art Carney claimed that his dramatic hand gestures were based upon his own father’s hand motions whenever the senior Carney had to sign one of his son’s bad report cards.