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Jackie Gleason was a pioneer of television comedy. "The Honeymooners" and "The Jackie Gleason Show" have been audience favorites for more than half a century.
Actress-Director Rain Pryor talks about how her father Richard Pryor was a comedy pioneer with his raw stand-up performances and honest critiques of race.
Actress-Director Rain Pryor talks about her father Richard Pryor's comedic influences including Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Gleason and Bill Cosby and the comedians who have been inspired by him like Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock and Steve Harvey.
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This innovation, however, never materialized. Instead, Gleason returned to his comedy-variety formula, complete with the opening dance number and his old repertoire of sketch characters. The title soon reverted to The Jackie Gleason Show. In 1966, he was rejoined by Art Carney and Audrey Meadows for new hour-long episodes of The Honeymooners. These had little of the verve of the originals,
but their nostalgic appeal to older viewers kept the show on the air through 1970, making Gleason one of the longest-lasting of the pioneer TV comedy stars. A second marriage, to Beverly McKittrick, in July 1971, ended in divorce in 1974. The next year Gleason, wed choreographer Marilyn Taylor, the sister of June Taylor.
After spending much of the 1970s in enforced retirement, Gleason successfully returned to feature films as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the Burt Reynolds comedy Smokey and the Bandit (1977), reprising the role in the 1980 and 1983 sequels it spawned. A new generation was introduced to Gleason as a cantankerous, drawling redneck lawman in a squad car. If Ralph Kramden had been culled from Gleason's Brooklyn childhood, Sheriff Justice was a comparable product of his later years in Florida. Following the success of these films, he began to work regularly in movies again, appearing in The Toy (1982), The Sting II (1983), Nothing in Common (1986), costarring Tom Hanks, and Izzy and Moe, the latter a 1985 television movie that reunited him with Art Carney. Gleason died of heart failure on June 24, 1987, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and is buried at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Cemetery in Miami, Florida.
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Originally called Toast of the Town, The Ed Sullivan Show ran from 1948-1971 on CBS and was an American staple in the 50s and 60s. The American variety show featured the Who's Who of celebritydom over the decades, including Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Tony Bennett, Carol Channing, Lucille Ball, The Jackson 5, and The Doors.
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