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The Foote Files: Jackie Gleason

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) was an accomplished actor, comedian, writer, composer, and conductor. He was best known on television as New York bus driver Ralph Kramden on the TV series, "The Honeymooners" with Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph (the name is a bit ironic as if you are familiar with the show because it was anything but about honeymooners!).

The show started on the Dumont Television Network as part of "Cavalcade Of Stars". Pert Kelton was the originally actress to play Alice Kramden but when the series (filmed versus kinescope versions) moved to CBS (1955-1956), Audrey Meadows took over. The show only has 39 episodes but when it went into local TV syndication, it was a huge hit. When Gleason did his variety show on CBS (1952-1970), viewers could see "Honeymooners" skits. Carney still played the role of Ed Norton but there were cast changes for the part of Alice Kramden (Meadows) and Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph). Randolph remains the only surviving member of the original CBS cast. Meadows was married to the late Robert Six, a former president of Continental Airlines.

On the music side, Gleason was known for his "mood music" albums. His first album, "Music For Lovers Only" holds the record for the longest stay on the Billboard Top Ten charts. And he did release Christmas songs!

Today we feature Gleason's version of "I'll Be Home For Christmas", written by Kim Gannon and Walter Kent. Bing Crosby recorded it in 1943, but the Gleason version is instrumental only. When you hear it, you will know what "mood music" is referring to!

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