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The Honeymooners

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Honeymooners
The title inscribed on the moon
Title card
GenreSitcom
Created byJackie Gleason
Written byMarvin Marx
Walter Stone
A.J. Russell
Herbert Finn
Leonard Stern
Sydney Zelinka
Directed byFrank Satenstein
StarringJackie Gleason
Audrey Meadows
Art Carney
Joyce Randolph
Pert Kelton
Theme music composerJackie Gleason
Bill Templeton
Opening theme"You're My Greatest Love"
Ending theme"You're My Greatest Love" (extended version)
ComposersSammy Spear, Jackie Gleason
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes39 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producersJack Philbin
Stanley Poss
ProducerJack Hurdle
Production locationsAdelphi Theatre, New York, New York
CinematographyDaniel Cavelli
Doug Downs
Jack Etra
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time26–27 minutes
Production companyJackie Gleason Enterprises
Original release
NetworkCBS
ReleaseOctober 1, 1955 (1955-10-01) –
September 22, 1956 (1956-09-22)
The cast hanging out of bus windows
The show's cast in 1955 as it premiered on CBS: Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney and Joyce Randolph

The Honeymooners is an American television sitcom that originally aired from 1955 to 1956, created by and starring Jackie Gleason, and based on a recurring comedy sketch of the same name that had been part of Gleason's variety show. It follows the lives of New York City bus driver Ralph Kramden (Gleason), his wife Alice (Audrey Meadows), Ralph's best friend Ed Norton (Art Carney) and Ed's wife Trixie (Joyce Randolph) as they get involved with various schemes in their day-to-day living.

Most episodes revolve around Ralph's poor choices in absurd dilemmas that frequently show his judgmental attitude in a comedic tone. The show occasionally features more serious issues such as women's rights and social status.

The original comedy sketches first aired on the DuMont network's variety series Cavalcade of Stars, which Gleason hosted, and subsequently on the CBS network's The Jackie Gleason Show,[1] which was broadcast live in front of a theater audience. The popularity of the sketches led Gleason to rework The Honeymooners as a filmed half-hour series, which debuted on 1 October 1955 on CBS, replacing the variety series. It was initially a ratings success as the No. 2 show in the United States, facing stiff competition from The Perry Como Show on NBC.[2][3] Gleason's show eventually dropped to No. 19,[3][4] and production ended after 39 episodes (now referred to as the "Classic 39 episodes").

The final episode of The Honeymooners aired on 22 September 1956, and Gleason sporadically revived the characters until 1978. The Honeymooners was one of the first U.S. television shows to portray working-class married couples in a gritty, non-idyllic manner, as the show is mostly set in the Kramdens' kitchen in a neglected Brooklyn apartment building.[5] One of the sponsors of the show was Buick.[6]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • The Honeymooners 5 Funniest Episodes - Full Episodes - #jackiegleason #classictv #classiccomedy
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  • The Honeymooners Classic 39 (Funny Money (B&W HD 1080p Quality)
  • The Honeymooners Classic 39 ( TV Or Not TV (B&W HD 1080p Quality)
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Transcription

Cast and characters

The majority of The Honeymooners episodes focus on four principal characters and generally use fixed sets within their Brooklyn apartment building. Although various secondary characters make multiple appearances, and occasional exterior shots are incorporated during editing, virtually all action and dialogue is "on stage" inside the normal backdrop.

Ralph Kramden

Played by Jackie Gleason, a bus driver for the fictional Gotham Bus Company based in New York City. He is never seen driving a bus (except in publicity photos), but he sometimes is shown at the bus depot. Ralph is frustrated by his lack of success and often develops get-rich-quick schemes. He is short-tempered, frequently resorting to bellowing, insults, and hollow threats. Well hidden beneath the many layers of bluster, however, is a softhearted man who loves his wife and is devoted to his best friend, Ed Norton. Ralph enjoys bowling and playing pool; he is proficient at both and is an enthusiastic member of the Loyal Order of Raccoons (although in several episodes, a blackboard at the lodge lists his dues as being in arrears). Ralph's mother rarely is mentioned, although she appears in one episode. Ralph's father is mentioned in only one episode ("Young Man with a Horn") as having given Ralph a cornet he learned to play as a boy, and Ralph insists on keeping the cornet when Alice suggests it be thrown away.

The Ralph Kramden character was given honorary membership in the real New York City bus drivers' union (Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union) during the run of the show, and a Brooklyn bus depot was named in Gleason's honor after his death.[7][8] Ralph Kramden was the inspiration for the animated character Fred Flintstone.[9] An eight-foot-tall bronze statue of a jolly Jackie Gleason in a bus driver's uniform was erected in 1999 in front of Manhattan's midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal. TV Land funded the statue in cooperation with Gleason's estate and the Port Authority.[10] Also in 1999, Ralph was ranked #13 on TV Guide's list of the 50 greatest TV characters.[11]

Alice Kramden

Alice (née Alice Gibson), played in the first nine skits from 1951 to January 1952[12] by Pert Kelton, by Audrey Meadows until 1966, then by Sheila MacRae, is Ralph's patient but sharp-tongued wife of 14 years. She often finds herself bearing the brunt of Ralph's tantrums and demands, which she returns with biting sarcasm. She is levelheaded, in contrast to Ralph's pattern of inventing various schemes to enhance his wealth or his pride. She sees his schemes' unworkability, but he becomes angry and ignores her advice (and by the end of the episode, her misgivings almost always prove correct). Upon discovering the failures of his schemes and subsequent cover-ups, she demands to Ralph: "Oh, how I wish you had an explanation for that." Alice runs the finances of the Kramden household, and Ralph frequently has to beg her for money to pay for his lodge dues or crazy schemes. Alice studied to be a secretary before her marriage and works briefly in that capacity when Ralph is laid off. Wilma Flintstone is based on Alice Kramden.[9]

Another foil for Ralph is Alice's mother, who is even sharper-tongued than her daughter and despises Ralph as a bad provider. Alice's father is occasionally mentioned, but never seen. Alice's sister Agnes appears in episode 22, "Here Comes The Bride". (Ralph jeopardizes his newlywed sister-in-law's marriage after giving some bad advice to the groom, but it all works out in the end). Ralph and Alice lived with her mother for six years after getting married before they got their own apartment. In a 1967 revival, Ralph refers to Alice (played by MacRae in 1966–70 and once more in 1973) as being one of 12 children, and to her father as never working.

The Honeymooners originally appeared as a sketch on the DuMont Network's Cavalcade of Stars, with the role of Alice played by Pert Kelton (1907–1968). When his contract with DuMont expired, Gleason moved to the CBS network where he had The Jackie Gleason Show, and the role of Alice went to Audrey Meadows because Kelton had been blacklisted. According to playwright Arthur Miller, a family friend, writing many years later in his autobiography Timebends: A Life, extensive inquiries finally revealed that her blacklisting was due to the fact that her husband Ralph had, many years earlier, marched in a May Day parade. "Ralph, I knew, had absolutely no leftist connections whatever but had simply thrown himself in with a gang of actors protesting whatever it was that year, and Pert had never even voted in her life."

The character's name is mentioned in the 1998 American stoner comedy film Half Baked in the lyrics to the song by the movie's character "Sir Smoka-Alot".

Edward Lillywhite/Ethelbert "Ed" Norton

Carney posing, wearing a suit with a pipe
Actor Art Carney won numerous awards for his portrayal of Ed Norton

Played by Art Carney; a New York City municipal sewer worker and Ralph's best friend (and upstairs neighbor). He is considerably more good-natured than Ralph, but nonetheless trades insults with him on a regular basis. Ed (typically called "Norton" by Ralph and sometimes by his own wife, Trixie) often gets mixed up in Ralph's schemes. His carefree and rather dimwitted nature usually results in raising Ralph's ire, while Ralph often showers him with verbal abuse and throws him out of the apartment when Ed irritates him. In most episodes, Ed is shown to be better-read, better-liked, more worldly and more even-tempered than Ralph, despite his unassuming manner and the fact that he usually lets Ralph take the lead in their escapades. Ed and Ralph both are members of the fictional Raccoon Lodge. Like Ralph, Ed enjoys and is good at bowling and playing pool. Unlike Ralph, Ed is good at ping-pong.[13]

Ed worked for the New York City sewer department, and described his job as a "Sub-supervisor in the sub-division of the department of subterranean sanitation, I just keep things moving along." He served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and used his G.I. Bill money to pay for typing school, but felt he was unable to work in an office because he hated working in confined spaces. The relatively few scenes set in the Norton apartment showed it to have the same layout as the Kramdens' but more nicely furnished. Though Norton makes the same weekly $62 salary as Ralph (roughly $710 in 2023 dollars), their higher standard of living might be explained by Norton's freer use of credit; at one point he admits to having 19 charge accounts.[14]

Ed is the inspiration for Barney Rubble in The Flintstones,[9] and for Yogi Bear (in terms of design, clothing, and mannerisms).[15] In 1999, TV Guide ranked him 2nd on its list of the "50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time".[11] According to Entertainment Weekly, Norton is ranked 8th of the "greatest sidekicks ever".[16]

Thelma "Trixie" Norton

Thelma "Trixie" Norton was Ed's wife and Alice's best friend. She did not appear in every episode and had a less developed character, though she is shown to be somewhat bossy toward her husband. In one episode, she surprisingly is depicted as a pool hustler. Trixie is the inspiration for Betty Rubble in The Flintstones.

Elaine Stritch was the first and original Trixie Norton in a Honeymooners sketch with Gleason, Carney, and Pert Kelton. The ex-dancer character was rewritten and recast after just one episode with the more wholesome-looking Joyce Randolph playing the character as a housewife.[17]

Joyce Randolph played the role in earlier sketches and on the 1955–56 sitcom The Honeymooners

Jane Kean played the role in a series of hour-long Honeymooners episodes, in color and with music, on The Jackie Gleason Show from 1966 to 1970, playing the role for many more years than her predecessor.

Others

Some of the actors who appeared multiple times on the show include George O. Petrie and Frank Marth as various characters, Ethel Owen as Alice's mother, Zamah Cunningham as apartment building neighbor Mrs. Manicotti, and Cliff Hall as the Raccoon Lodge president.

Ronnie Burns, son of George Burns and Gracie Allen, made a guest appearance on one episode. On another episode, Norton makes a reference to a co-worker "Nat Birnbaum" (as in "'nat," a three-letter word for bug," says crossword puzzle aficionado Norton). George Burns's real name was Nathan Birnbaum. Seasoned actress Eileen Heckart appeared as Alice's mother in the 1978 The Honeymooners Christmas special (who, interestingly, was in reality just three years older than her "daughter", Alice). Strangely, Heckart's character makes several comments in the episode alluding to her desire to become a grandmother by Ralph and Alice, this despite the fact that Meadows, who played Alice, was in fact 55 years old at that time.

The apartment house

The Kramdens and Nortons lived in an apartment house at 328 Chauncey Street in Bushwick, Brooklyn, New York City (sometimes referred to as Bensonhurst), a nod to the fact that Jackie Gleason lived there after his family moved from his birthplace at 364 Chauncey Street.[18] In the 1955 episode "A Woman's Work is Never Done", the address is referred to as 728 Chauncey Street. The landlord of the apartment house is Mr. Johnson. In The Honeymooners episodes taped from 1967 to 1970, the address of the apartment house changed to 358 Chauncey Street, and the number of the Kramden apartment is 3B. The actual 328 Chauncey Street is located in the Stuyvesant Heights section of the borough, approximately eight miles northeast of the show's fictional location.

A simple apartment complex
The real 328 Chauncey Street

Apartment residents

  • Mr. and Mrs. Manicotti: An older couple of Italian descent.
  • Tommy Manicotti: He played stickball and contracted the measles. He also left his water pistol in the Kramdens' apartment.
  • Garrity: A vocal upstairs neighbor with whom Ralph frequently feuds. He fought with Ralph for disturbing the neighbors with practicing for The $99,000 Answer quiz show. But showing some humor in other episodes, he accused Ralph of renting the tuxedo for his sister-in-law's wedding from an undertaker, and loved Ralph's joke about "sending a knight out on a dog like this."
  • Garrity Boy: He played stickball and contracted the measles.
  • Mrs. Bennett: Needed her radiator fixed when Ralph was the janitor.
  • Johnny Bennett: He played stickball, earned an apple for a home-run—and contracted the measles like the other boys.
  • Mrs. Doyle: Mother of Tommy Doyle.
  • Tommy Doyle: He was arrested for spending a $100 counterfeit bill that Ralph gave him to take his suits to the cleaners.
  • Mrs. Stevens: She gave Alice a box for hairpins that was made of matchsticks for Christmas which was the same exact gift Ralph was about to give her but he vastly overpaid for it and thought he had a great gift rather than an insignificant trinket for Alice. Alice gave Mrs. Stevens a kitchen thermometer.
  • Mrs. Olsen: She said that Ralph broke her Venetian blinds instead of repairing them when Ralph temporarily was the building janitor.
  • Mrs. Hannah: Needed her bathtub fixed when Ralph was the janitor.
  • Mrs. Fogerty: Accused Ralph of taking food out of her ice box when Ralph was the janitor.
  • Mrs. Schwartz: The apartment house blabbermouth who reported that the Kramdens had set the all-time lowest gas bill for the building. She also was curious to know if the house phone was able to connect to New Jersey when Ralph was the janitor.
  • Mr. Riley: Had a full garbage can that needed to be emptied when Ralph was the janitor.
  • Judy Connors: A teenager who did not want her father to meet a boy named Wallace, her date.
  • Tommy Mullins: A U.S. Navy service member who was home on leave for Christmas.
  • Carlos Sanchez: A mambo dancer who works at night.
  • Mr. and Mrs. August Gunther: Former residents of the building. August hit it big with his doughnut business.
  • Mr. Johnson: The building's landlord.

Plot

Most of The Honeymooners takes place in Ralph and Alice Kramden's small, sparsely furnished two-room apartment. Other settings used in the show included the Gotham Bus Company depot, the Raccoon Lodge, a neighborhood pool parlor, a park bench where Ralph and Ed occasionally meet for lunch, and on occasion the Nortons' apartment (always noticeably better-furnished than the Kramdens'). Many episodes begin with a shot of Alice in the apartment awaiting Ralph's arrival from work. Most episodes focus on Ralph's and Ed's characters, although Alice played a substantial role. Trixie played a smaller role in the series, and did not appear in every episode as did the other three. Each episode presented a self-contained story, which rarely carried over into a subsequent one. The show employed a number of standard sitcom clichés and plots, particularly those of jealousy, get-rich-quick schemes, and comic misunderstanding.

As to the occasional plot continuations, there were two such sequences — one concerning Ralph being sent to a psychiatrist because of "impatient" behavior during work that resulted in several passengers lodging complaints about his professional demeanor, and one that continued for two sequential shows in which Aunt Ethel visited and Ralph hatched a scheme to marry her off to the neighborhood butcher.

The series presents Ralph as an everyman and an underdog who struggles to make a better life for himself and his wife, but who ultimately fails due to his own shortcomings. He, often along with Ed, devises a number of get-rich-quick schemes, none of which succeed. Ralph would be quick to blame others for his misfortune until it was pointed out to him where he had fallen short. Ralph's anger then would be replaced by short-lived remorse, and he would apologize for his actions. Many of these apologies to Alice ended with Ralph saying in a heartfelt manner, "Baby, you're the greatest," followed by a hug and kiss.[19][20][21]

In most episodes, Ralph's short temper got the best of him, leading him to yell at others and to threaten comical physical violence, usually against Alice. Ralph's favorite threats to her were "One of these days ... One of these days ... Pow! right in the kisser!" or to knock her "to the Moon, Alice!" (Sometimes this last threat was simply abbreviated: as "Bang, zoom!") On other occasions, Ralph simply told Alice, "Oh, are you gonna get yours." All of this led to criticism, more than 40 years later, that the show displayed an ironic acceptance of domestic violence.[22][23] But Ralph never carried out his threats, and others have pointed out that Alice knew he never would because of their deep love for each other — indeed, Alice never was seen to back down during any of Ralph's tirades.[20][21] In retaliation, the targets of Ralph's verbal abuse often responded by simply joking about his weight, a common theme throughout the series.[20][21]

For the "Classic 39" episodes of The Honeymooners, there was no continuing story arc. Each episode is self-contained. For example, in the series premiere episode "TV Or Not TV", Ralph and Norton buy a television set with the intent to share it. By the next week's show, the set is gone although in later episodes a set is shown in the Nortons' apartment. In the installment "The Baby Sitter", the Kramdens get a telephone, but in the next episode, it is gone. And, in the episode, "A Dog's Life", Alice gets a dog from the pound which Ralph tries to return. But, in the end, Ralph finds himself growing to love the dog and decides to keep it along with a few other dogs. However, in the next episode, the dogs are nowhere to be seen and are never referred to again.

Occasionally, references to earlier episodes were made, including to Ralph's various "crazy harebrained schemes" from the lost episodes. Norton's sleepwalking in "The Sleepwalker" was referenced in "Oh My Aching Back", but it was not until the 1967 "Trip To Europe" shows that a Honeymooners story arc is finally used.

History

Origins

In July 1950, Jackie Gleason became the host of Cavalcade of Stars, a variety show that aired on the struggling DuMont Television Network. After the first year, he and his writers Harry Crane and Joe Bigelow[24][25] developed a sketch that drew upon familiar domestic situations for its material. Based on the popular radio show The Bickersons, Gleason wanted a realistic portrayal of life for a poor husband and wife living in Brooklyn, his home borough. The couple would continually argue but ultimately show their love for each other. After rejecting titles such as "The Beast", "The Lovers" and "The Couple Next Door", Gleason and his staff settled on "The Honeymooners". Gleason took the role of Ralph Kramden, a blustery bus driver, and he chose veteran comedy film actress Pert Kelton for the role of Alice Kramden, Ralph's acerbic and long-suffering wife.[19]

"The Honeymooners" debuted on October 5, 1951 as a six-minute sketch.[26] Ensemble cast member Art Carney made a brief appearance as a police officer who is hit with flour that Ralph throws from the window. The tone of these early sketches was much darker than that of the later series, with Ralph exhibiting great bitterness and frustration with his marriage to an equally bitter and argumentative middle-aged woman (Kelton was nine years older than was Gleason). The Kramdens' financial struggles mirrored those of Gleason's early life in Brooklyn, and he took great pains to model the set on his memory of the apartment where he had lived.[26] The Kramdens—and later the Nortons when those characters were added—are childless, an issue only occasionally explored, but a condition upon which Gleason insisted.[why?] Ralph and Alice did legally adopt a baby girl whom they named Ralphina. However, the biological mother requested to have her baby returned. A few later sketches had Ralph mistakenly believe that Alice was pregnant.

Early cast additions in later sketches were upstairs neighbors Ed and Trixie Norton. Ed was a sewer worker and Ralph's best friend, although his innocent and guileless nature was the source of many arguments between the two men. Trixie (maiden name never mentioned), Ed's wife, was originally portrayed by Elaine Stritch as a burlesque dancer, but was replaced after just one appearance by the more wholesome-looking Joyce Randolph. Trixie is a foil to Ed, just as Alice is to Ralph, but often offscreen.[20][26]

With the colorful array of characters whom Gleason had invented, including the cast of "The Honeymooners" sketches, Cavalcade of Stars became a great success for DuMont and increased its audience share from 9% to 25%. Gleason's contract with DuMont expired in the summer of 1952, and the financially struggling network (which suffered through ten rounds of layoffs from July through October 1953) was unable to retain him, and he moved to CBS.

Move to CBS

In July 1952, CBS president William S. Paley sent Gleason and his cast on a highly successful nationwide five-week promotional tour, performing musical numbers and sketches (including the popular "The Honeymooners"). However, Kelton who played Alice Kramden and other roles, was blacklisted and replaced on the tour by Beulah actress Ginger Jones, who also became blacklisted (having earlier been named on the Red Channels blacklist) by CBS. As a result, yet another Alice was needed.[20][21]

The cast standing around a dinner table
Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) with Ed Norton (Art Carney), Alice Kramden (Audrey Meadows) and Trixie Norton (Joyce Randolph) in a Honeymooners scene.

Jones's replacement was Audrey Meadows, known for her work in the 1951 Broadway musical Top Banana and on the Bob & Ray television show. However, Gleason was concerned that Meadows was too attractive to make a credible Alice. To convince him, Meadows hired a photographer to take pictures of her in the early morning with no makeup, clad in a torn housecoat and with her hair undone.[21][27] When Gleason saw the photos, he said, "That's our Alice." When he learned that it was Meadows in the photos, he reportedly said, "Any dame who has a sense of humor like that deserves the job."[21] The lineup of Gleason, Carney, Meadows and Randolph was now in place.

The increasingly popular "The Honeymooners" sketches were prominent in episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show variety show. During the first season, they appeared on a regular basis (although not weekly) as a series of short sketches ranging in length from seven to thirteen minutes. For the 1953–54 season, the shorter sketches were outnumbered by ones that ran for 30 minutes or longer. During the 1954–55 season, most episodes of The Jackie Gleason Show consisted entirely of "The Honeymooners". Fan response became overwhelming, and Meadows received hundreds of curtains and aprons in the mail from fans who wanted to help Alice lead a fancier life. By January 1955, The Jackie Gleason Show was competing with—and sometimes beating—I Love Lucy as the most-watched television show in the United States. Audience members would queue around the block hours in advance in order to attend the show.[19]

The "Classic 39" episodes

The "Classic 39" episodes of The Honeymooners are those that originally aired as a weekly half-hour sitcom on CBS from October 1955 to September 1956.

Meadows kissing Gleason, who is making a funny face
Gleason and Meadows as Ralph and Alice, 1955

Before Gleason's initial three-year contract with CBS expired, he was offered a much larger contract by CBS and General Motors' Buick division. The three-year contract, reportedly valued at $11 million (about $125 million now),[28] was one of the largest in showbusiness history at the time. It called for Gleason to produce 78 filmed episodes of The Honeymooners over two seasons, with an option for a third season of 39 more. He was scheduled to receive $65,000 for each episode ($737,000 now)[28] and $70,000 per episode in the second season ($794,000 now),[28] but he had to pay all production costs out of that amount. Art Carney received $3,500 per week ($40,000 now),[28] Audrey Meadows $2,000 ($23,000 now),[28] and Joyce Randolph (who did not appear in every episode) $500 per week ($5,700 now).[28] Production was handled by Jackie Gleason Enterprises Inc., which also produced Stage Show, a program that aired directly before episodes of The Honeymooners and starred the Dorsey Brothers.[19][26] Meadows, who later became a banker, was reportedly the only cast member to receive residuals when the "Classic 39" episodes were rebroadcast in syndication because her brother Edward, a lawyer, had inserted language to that effect into her contract.[29] Randolph received royalty payments when the "lost" Honeymooners episodes from the variety shows were released.[30]

The first episode of the new half-hour series aired on Saturday, October 1, 1955, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time opposite Ozark Jubilee on ABC and The Perry Como Show on NBC. Because the show was sponsored by Buick, the opening credits originally ended with a sponsor identification by announcer Jack Lescoulie ("Brought to you by your Buick dealer. And away we go!"), and the show concluded with a brief Gleason sales pitch for the company, all common practices at the time. All references to Buick were removed when the show entered syndication in 1957,[27] although Gleason frequently said "And away we go!" frequently in various shows, and the quote is inscribed on his gravestone.

The initial critical reaction to the half-hour sitcom Honeymooners was mixed. The New York Times and Broadcasting & Telecasting Magazine wrote that it was "labored" and lacked the spontaneity of the live sketches. But TV Guide praised it as "rollicking", "slapsticky" and "fast-paced".[19] In February 1956, the show was moved to the 8:00 p.m. ET timeslot, but it already had begun losing viewers to the hugely popular Perry Como Show.[2][3] Gleason's writers also had begun to feel confined by the restrictive half-hour format—in previous seasons, "The Honeymooners" sketches typically ran 35 minutes or more—and Gleason felt that were beginning to exhaust original ideas. After just one season, Gleason and CBS agreed to cancel The Honeymooners, which aired its 39th and final original episode on September 22, 1956. In explaining his decision to end the show with $7 million remaining on his contract, Gleason said, "The excellence of the material could not be maintained, and I had too much fondness for the show to cheapen it."[19] Gleason subsequently sold the films of the "Classic 39" episodes of the show to CBS for $1.5 million.[26]

Production

A photo of the TV studio set with cameras pointed on the kitchen setup
The Honeymooners was filmed using three Electronicams.

In 1955, many television shows (including The Jackie Gleason Show) were performed live and recorded using kinescope technology, although many sitcoms were recorded on film, such as Amos 'n' Andy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, My Little Margie and I Married Joan. I Love Lucy, which was recorded directly onto 35mm film, had influenced television production companies to produce directly on film. For The Honeymooners, Gleason utilized the Electronicam TV film system, developed by DuMont in the early 1950s, which allowed for a live performance to be directly captured on film. As a result of the superior picture and sound quality afforded by the system, episodes of The Honeymooners were much more suitable for rebroadcast than were most other live shows of the era.[26][dead link][20]

All 39 episodes of The Honeymooners were filmed at the DuMont Television Network's Adelphi Theatre at 152 West 54th Street in Manhattan before an audience of 1,000. Episodes were never fully rehearsed because Gleason felt that rehearsals would rob the show of its spontaneity. As a result, mistakes often were made, with lines recited incorrectly or altogether forgotten, and actors did not always follow the scripted action directions. To compensate, the cast developed visual cues for each other. For example, Gleason patted his stomach when he forgot a line, while Meadows would glance at the icebox when someone else was supposed to retrieve something from it.[27][31]

In contrast to other popular comedies of the era (such as Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet), which depicted their characters in comfortable, middle-class suburban environments, Richard Rychtarik's set design for The Honeymooners reflected the blue-collar existence of its characters. The Kramdens lived in a small, sparsely furnished two-room apartment in a tenement building at least four stories high (the Kramdens lived on the third floor and the Nortons lived one floor above them). They used the single main room as the kitchen, dining and living room. It consisted of a table and chairs, a chest of drawers, a curtainless window with a painted backdrop view of a fire escape and adjoining tenements, a noisy sink and an outdated icebox. The Kramdens' bedroom never was seen.[20][21][26] One of the few other sitcoms about a blue-collar family was The Life of Riley, a show that featured Gleason in its first season (1949–50).

The instrumental theme song for The Honeymooners, titled "You're My Greatest Love", was composed by Gleason and performed by an orchestra led by Ray Bloch, previously the orchestra leader for Gleason's variety show as well as for The Ed Sullivan Show. Although lyrics were composed, they were never sung. Sammy Spear, who later became Gleason's musical director, provided the arrangement.[32] The music heard in the episodes was not performed during the show, so to enhance the feeling of a live performance for the studio audience, an orchestra performed before filming and during breaks.[19] The show's original announcer was Jack Lescoulie, who also was a spokesman for the sponsor, Buick. For the unsponsored syndicated version, the introduction was voiced by CBS staff announcer Gaylord Avery.

Revivals

On September 29, 1956, one week after The Honeymooners ended as a weekly 30-minute series, The Jackie Gleason Show returned. "The Honeymooners" returned as part of the revived variety show. Many of these episodes were produced as original musicals with music and lyrics by Lyn Duddy and Jerry Bresler. The stories featured the Kramdens and Nortons touring Europe after winning a contest.[33] Live musicals had become popular on live television following the success of the 1954-1955 live broadcasts of Mary Martin in Peter Pan as well as that of several Max Leibman original musicals.

In 1959, TV Guide magazine mentioned Gleason's interest in producing new Honeymooners shows. This did not happen for several years, but Gleason did team with Carney to revive an old Honeymooners scene for an October 1960 CBS special titled The Big Sell.

After the spectacular failure of Gleason's 1961 game show You're in the Picture and the relative success of the eight-episode talk show that Gleason used to fill its time slot, his variety show returned in 1962 under the title Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine. The "Honeymooners" sketches returned as part of the show whenever Carney was available. However, Meadows and Randolph were replaced by Sue Ane Langdon and Patricia Wilson for two sketches.[20][26]

In January 1966, Meadows returned on Gleason's American Scene Magazine variety series as Alice for "The Honeymooners: The Adoption", a reenactment of a 1955 non-musical sketch of the same name, with original songs added by Duddy and Bresler.

When The Jackie Gleason Show, by then based at Gleason's relocated headquarters in Miami Beach, Florida, returned in 1966, the "Honeymooners" sketches, in color for the first time, featured Sheila MacRae and Jane Kean in the roles of Alice and Trixie, as Meadows and Randolph declined to relocate to Miami. Gleason did not object to recasting the roles of the wives but was adamant that the Ed Norton role should never be played by anyone other than Carney.

The 1966 videotaped "Honeymooners" were also musical episodes that comprised 10 of the first season's 32 shows. Most of these were updated remakes of 1956-57 musical episodes with songs by Duddy and Bresler, expanded with new material. These programs were syndicated for local stations as The Honeymooners Go to Europe and released on DVD as The Color Honeymooners.

One notable 1967 segment featured the return of Pert Kelton (in one of her last performances before her death in 1968), but as Alice's mother.[20][26]

"The Honeymooners" ended again when CBS announced the cancellation of The Jackie Gleason Show on February 16, 1970, the result of a disagreement in direction between Gleason and the network. Gleason wanted to continue interspersing "The Honeymooners" within his regular variety show, while CBS wanted a full-hour "Honeymooners" every week. CBS's ongoing effort to move its product toward younger audiences and away from established variety show stars was another potential factor in the show's demise. On October 11, 1973, Gleason, Carney, MacRae and Kean reunited for a "Honeymooners" sketch titled "Women's Lib" as part of a Gleason special on CBS. Four final one-hour specials aired on ABC from 1976 to 1978, with Meadows returning as Alice and Kean as Trixie. These specials came at a time when Gleason and Carney were each achieving newfound expanded fame, with Gleason's prominent role in the box office smash Smokey and the Bandit and Carney winning an Academy Award for his leading role in Harry and Tonto. These were the final original "Honeymooners" productions.[20]

Awards

Carney won five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of Ed Norton—two for the original Jackie Gleason Show, one for The Honeymooners and two for the final version of The Jackie Gleason Show. He was nominated for another two in 1957 and 1966, but lost. Gleason and Meadows both were nominated in 1956 for their work on The Honeymooners. Gleason was nominated for Best Actor–Continuing Performance but lost to Phil Silvers, while Meadows was nominated for Best Actress-Supporting Role but lost to Nanette Fabray. Meadows also was nominated for Emmys for her portrayal of Alice Kramden in 1954 and 1957.[34]

The following table summarizes award wins by cast members, both for The Honeymooners and The Jackie Gleason Show.

Awards for cast members of The Honeymooners
Actor Awards won Show
Art Carney Emmy, Best Series Supporting Actor (1954) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Best Supporting Actor in a Regular Series (1955) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (1956) The Honeymooners
Emmy, Special Classifications of Individual Achievement (1967) The Jackie Gleason Show
Emmy, Special Classification of Individual Achievements (1968) The Jackie Gleason Show
Audrey Meadows Emmy, Best Supporting Actress in a Regular Series (1955) The Jackie Gleason Show

Broadcast history

Broadcast history of The Honeymooners
Day and time Preceded by
Saturdays at 8:30 pm (October 1, 1955 – February 18, 1956)
Saturdays at 8:00 pm (February 25 – September 22, 1956)
The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show at 8:00 pm (January 7 – February 18, 1956)
Stage Show at 7:30 pm (April 14 – June 2, 1956/September 22, 1956)
Two for the Money at 7:30 pm (September 8–15, 1956)

Episodes

Overview of the Classic 39 Honeymooners episodes
No.TitleWritten byOriginal air date
1"TV or Not TV"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneOctober 1, 1955 (1955-10-01)

Trixie tells Alice that Ed will be late for bowling as he's buying a new TV set. Trixie suggests that Alice butter Ralph up to get a TV. Ralph comes home and when Alice starts sweet talking to him, he is immediately suspicious. Alice wants a TV and she lets Ralph know. Too cheap to pay the full price, Ralph cons Norton into paying for half a TV set. Ralph then tricks Ed into letting the set stay in Ralph's apartment. Who gets to use the set and when becomes a point of contention. At one point Norton locks Ralph out of the apartment so he can watch what he wants. In the end, Alice admits to herself they should never have gotten the TV.

Note: This episode has Ralph doing a double-take when Norton watches Captain Video and His Video Rangers. Music from the TV set is from the CBS stock music library, some of which was heard on "The Adventures of Superman".

In 1997, TV Guide ranked this episode #26 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes.[35]
2"Funny Money"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneOctober 8, 1955 (1955-10-08)
Several Counterfeiters are in a room. Ziggy (Victor Rendina) tells the Boss he had to leave a suitcase with $50,000 in fake money on a bus because a cop got on. The Boss calls the bus company and learns that after 30 days if the item is not claimed it goes to the person that found it. The Boss figures that will be the bus driver. Meanwhile, Mrs. Gibson (Ethel Owen), Alice's mother, comes for a visit. Ralph comes home with the suitcase and he and Mrs. Gibson get into a fight. Ralph kicks her out. Norton comes by and Ralph opens the suitcase and finds the money. Alice thinks there's something suspicious about the money. Police Officer Grogan (Frank Marth) comes by collecting for a children's party. Ralph gives him some of the money. Ralph goes on a spending spree and buys lavish things for the apartment. He quits his job and hires Norton as his chauffeur. Suddenly Mrs. Gibson thinks Ralph is the best. Ralph learns that the money is counterfeit and starts to panic. The Boss and Ziggy come by for the money, but Ralph burned it in the oven. The police arrive and take everyone to the station. Alice reminds Ralph that he quit his job and everything he bought has to go back. Jim Boles as Gangster.
3"The Golfer"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnOctober 15, 1955 (1955-10-15)
Ralph needs to be a good golfer to impress his boss. Includes hilarious impromptu golfing lesson in the Kramden apartment, including the classic moment when Norton "addresses the ball." In 1996, TV Guide ranked this episode #56 of its "100 Most Memorable Moments in TV History".
4"A Woman's Work Is Never Done"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneOctober 22, 1955 (1955-10-22)
Ralph and Alice hire a maid to ease Alice's housework burden. As Alice sternly tells Ralph, "Man works from sun to sun, but woman's work is never done!"
5"A Matter of Life and Death"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneOctober 29, 1955 (1955-10-29)

When he sees the vet's report on his mother-in-law's sick dog, Ralph mistakenly concludes that he has only six months to live.

NOTE: This episode was a remake of a live sketch with additional material.
6"The Sleepwalker"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnNovember 5, 1955 (1955-11-05)

Ralph is forced to deal with a sleepwalking Norton.

NOTE: Norton's exclamation of "Come back, little Lulu!" is a reference to the 1950 play and 1952 film, Come Back, Little Sheba.
7"Better Living Through TV"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneNovember 12, 1955 (1955-11-12)

Ralph devises a get-rich-quick scheme – selling Handy Housewife Helpers on TV. Features a rare gone-wrong moment when one of the gadgets flies off the handle, forcing Gleason to retrieve it and then ad-lib his way back into the scene. It classically devolves into another one of Ralph's schemes failing royally.

In 2009, TV Guide ranked this episode #7 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes.[36]
8"Pal o' Mine"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaNovember 19, 1955 (1955-11-19)
Trixie is upset because Ed gave her one days notice that he's throwing a party for Jim McCeaver, the new foreman. Ed comes by and shows the girls the ring that he got for Jim. Ed asks Alice to wrap the ring for him. Ralph comes home, finds the ring and thinks Ed gave it to him. He puts it on and tells Alice what a great guy Ed is. Alice tells him it's for Jim and now Ralph says Ed's a bum. Ralph can't get the ring off. Ed stops by and will bring Jim down to at least see the ring. Ed, Jim and a couple other guys come by to see the ring and Ralph kicks everyone out. The next day Ed mentions to Alice that he and Ralph will be going bowling that night. Ralph comes home and tells Ed he's bowling with his friend Teddy Oberman (Ned Glass). Ralph says to Ed that he's not going to do anything with him again. Trixie comes by and tells Ed there's an emergency in the sewer. Teddy comes by and helps himself to food from the ice box. When Teddy makes fun of Norton, Ralph says they were never really friends. This changes when he finds out Norton was injured in an explosion in the sewer. Ralph leaves for the hospital. At the hospital, Dr. Hyman checks out Ed and he's free to leave. Another patient is put into Ed's room. Ralph comes by the hospital and is told the patient can have no visitors. Ralph tells Dr. Seefer (Les Damon) that he'll volunteer to give blood for a transfusion. Ralph is wheeled past Ed on a gurney and is startled to see Ed. Ralph and Ed make up. Ralph still has to give the transfusion and Ed asks Dr. Seefer if he could get the ring off Ralph's finger.
9"Brother Ralph"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneNovember 26, 1955 (1955-11-26)
Alice is forced to find a job after Ralph is temporarily laid off due to there being too many buses on Madison Avenue, his route. But to get the job, Alice has to claim that Ralph is her brother, because a lot of employers do not like to hire married women due to their commitments to home and family. Ralph gets jealous when he realizes that Alice's boss is interested in her.
10"Hello, Mom"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneDecember 3, 1955 (1955-12-03)

Ralph's foul mood is worsened when he finds out that Alice's mother is coming for a visit. The last time she stayed according to him "was Christmas and New Year's, except she came New Year's and stayed 'til Christmas." Later it is revealed in the end that it is his mother coming for a visit.

It is revealed that Alice's mother was commenting on Ralph's weight even at their wedding. She said: "I'm not losing a daughter, I'm gaining a ton!"

NOTE: Alice gives Ralph a sarcastic tour of their dingy apartment as "a regular Disneyland" in this episode. Disneyland had just opened that summer.
11"The Deciding Vote"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnDecember 10, 1955 (1955-12-10)
Ralph blames Norton when he loses an election for Raccoon Lodge convention manager by one vote, only to find out Norton did vote for him and it was another member who changed his vote because of a defective appliance Ralph convinced him to buy. This episode includes a conspicuous flub in that the lodge member who Ralph told about his vacuum cleaner was introduced to Alice as Joe Muncey, but later spoken of as Joe Rumsey.
12"Something Fishy"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaDecember 17, 1955 (1955-12-17)
Ralph and Norton want to go fishing with their fellow lodge members, but without their wives, who, meanwhile, will not stand for such treatment.
13"'Twas the Night Before Christmas"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneDecember 24, 1955 (1955-12-24)
Ralph sells his bowling ball to get Alice a last-minute Christmas gift. After the end of this show, Jackie Gleason and the cast wish the audience a Merry Christmas. It is the only time in the series the fourth wall is broken.
14"The Man from Space"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnDecember 31, 1955 (1955-12-31)

Ralph wants to attend a costume party as Henry VIII, but is forced to improvise when he cannot get the money to rent the costume. Norton wins the contest when he arrives at the party at the last minute from work in his work gear.

Several scenes from this episode are prominently shown in the movie Back to the Future. There is an anachronism, as this episode originally aired on December 31, 1955 and the time frame it was shown in Back to the Future was November 5, 1955. Episode #6 The Sleepwalker would have been on television while the Baines family was eating supper.
15"A Matter of Record"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnJanuary 7, 1956 (1956-01-07)
The classic "blabbermouth" episode in which Ralph throws out his mother-in-law after she gives away the ending of a new Broadway murder mystery Ralph was about to see. Alice soon follows, leaving Ralph alone in the apartment. In a last-ditch effort to win Alice back, Ralph records a message on record to apologize to Alice and her mother.
16"Oh, My Aching Back"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaJanuary 14, 1956 (1956-01-14)
Ralph feigns illness to avoid visiting his mother-in-law. Then the pain gets real: he injures his back at bowling.
17"The Baby Sitter"
"Bensonhurst 0–7741"
Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaJanuary 21, 1956 (1956-01-21)

Ralph is furious when Alice has had a telephone installed. Confusion ensues when she secretly starts babysitting to pay for it. In the end, everything gets sorted out – but the telephone does not appear in any of the subsequent episodes.

NOTE: Young Harvey Wallstetter makes a reference to Davy Crockett, which was a pop culture sensation at the time because of ABC's 'Disneyland' TV series. It sold millions of raccoon hats like the ones on this series.
18"The $99,000 Answer"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaJanuary 28, 1956 (1956-01-28)

Ralph is a contestant on The $99,000 Answer (a spoof of The $64,000 Question) and is determined to go all the way in spite of Alice's concerns. This episode features a running gag of Norton's when he practices the opening bars to "Swanee River" to warm up. Unfortunately, Ralph flubs the first question, which asks for the composer of that song. NOTE: If Ralph had really wanted to protest the accuracy of the answer, he could have gone back and told them the actual title is "The Old Folks at Home". There have been actual Jeopardy! contestants who have said "Ed Norton?" when stumped.

In 1997, TV Guide ranked this episode #6 on its list of the 100 Greatest Episodes.[37]
19"Ralph Kramden, Inc."A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnFebruary 4, 1956 (1956-02-04)
Ralph is $20.00 short on his day's receipts on the bus. He convinces Norton to give him that amount by saying that it is an investment in the imaginary Ralph Kramden Corporation. Norton will receive 20% of any money the corporation makes and be Vice President. It's been a week and Norton complains that he hasn't seen a return on his investment. Norton wants his money back, but Ralph offers him 35% which Norton accepts. Attorney Frederick Carson comes by the apartment. He is handling the estate of the late Mary Monihan, a long-time passenger on Ralph's bus. Her estate is valued at $40 million and Ralph is mentioned in the will. Ralph thinks he inherited all the money and Norton thinks he's getting 35%. It's the day of the reading and Alice tells Ralph he might only get a little bit of the money. Ralph says Mary only has one other living relative and she didn't like him. Ralph tries to talk Ed into leaving his share of the money invested in the corporation. At the Monihan mansion, the maid is worried about the pet parrot, Fortune, not eating. Ralph and Ed show up. Mr. Carson reads the will and Mary's nephew receives just $1. Ralph is to get Mary's Fortune and he thinks he's rich. Ralph is then given the parrot.
20"Young at Heart"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneFebruary 11, 1956 (1956-02-11)

Teenager Judy Connors tells Alice that she's crazy for a boy named Wallace. Judy asks if it's OK that Wallace pick her up for their date at Alice's apartment. Judy tells Alice all the fun things they're going to do on their date. Ralph comes home and Alice wants him to take her out for some youthful activities, starting with roller-skating. Ralph thinks they're too old for things like that. Norton comes by and Ralph tells him what Alice suggested. Wallace arrives and Alice calls for Judy. After they leave, Ralph makes fun of Alice for trying to act young. Alice makes Ralph feel bad for what he said. The next day Ralph dresses younger and Norton brings some records so Ralph can learn to do some new dances. Alice comes home and Ralph says he's taking her out. The Kramden's and the Norton's go dancing and then roller-skating. Ralph isn't doing so well on the skates and things get messy when he tries to bring the girls some coffee. It's the end of the evening and Ralph is in a lot of pain. Everyone winds up having a good laugh about the evening. Ralph reminisces about the fun things he and Alice did when they were younger.

Note: The song that Ralph learns to dance to is "The Hucklebuck" which was written by Andy Gibson and Roy Alfred and sung by Kay Starr.

Ronnie Burns makes an appearance in this episode as Wallace.
21"A Dog's Life"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaFebruary 18, 1956 (1956-02-18)
Alice gets a puppy from the pound without Ralph knowing about it. The dog will be gone til the next morning getting it's shots. Ralph comes home and tells Alice he's going to an emergency meeting at the lodge. Norton comes by and Alice goes to see Mrs. Manicotti. Norton finds the dog food in the ice box and starts eating it. Ralph eats some and loves it. He wants to sell the product and make a lot of money. Ralph decides to asks his boss J. J. Marshall for financial backing. He going to call it Krammar's Delicious Mystery Appetizer, using his and Mr. Marshall's name. The next day Ralph brings some of the appetizer to Mr. Marshall to taste. Marshall likes it and has Mr. Peck (Eddie Kane) and Mr. Tebbetts (Les Damon) try it. Mr. Peck realizes that it's dog food. Back at the apartment, Ed comes by, meets the dog and figures out he ate dog food. Ralph comes home and wants to take the puppy back to the pound. At the pound, Ralph talks to Mr. McGregor (Frank Marth) about returning the dog. When he learns that if no one takes the dog it may be destroyed, Ralph wants it back. Alice comes by and Ralph has the puppy and two other dogs. George Petrie as Janitor.
22"Here Comes the Bride"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneFebruary 25, 1956 (1956-02-25)

The Raccoon's are throwing lodge member Stanley Saxon a bachelor party. Stanley is marrying Alice's sister Agnes. All the members tease Stanley about getting married, but he says he's very happy. Stanley tells Ralph that he and Agnes will be moving in with her parents. Ralph tells him that would be a big mistake and he has to be king of his castle. The next day, Ralph and Alice come home after the wedding. Agnes shows up crying saying she and Stanley had a fight. Agnes says that he's a beast and has completely changed. Ralph knows he's the cause. Alice wants Agnes to stay with them for the night. The next morning Ralph tells Norton what happened. Alice tells Norton she can't figure who influenced Stanley to changed so quickly. Ralph comes up with a plan to have Agnes see that all husbands give orders. Maybe she'll then change her mind about Stanley. They invite Stanley over for dinner and he and Agnes immediately make up. Stanley tells Agnes and Alice that he should never have listened to Ralph. Ralph comes home and starts giving orders. Alice tells him she knows everything. Stanley and Agnes leave and Ralph apologizes to Alice. Cliff Hall as Raccoon Lodge President.

Note: This episode contains a veiled reference to Willie Mays, who was, by then reaching the peak of his baseball career. Ralph says that, out of habit, Alice's sister caught the bouquet herself. Alice says it was because her foot slipped, to which Ralph responds, "I wish my foot could slip like that, I'd be playing center field for the New York Giants."
23"Mama Loves Mambo"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneMarch 3, 1956 (1956-03-03)

Alice mentions to Ralph that everyone is making a welcome gift for their new neighbor. Ralph and Ed are under the impression the neighbor is an elderly man. Carlos Sanchez (Charles Korvin) comes by and introduces himself. He is a middle-aged handsome man. Carlos tells them that he's a mambo dancer who works nights. He'll be around during the days. Alice comes in and Carlos is very attentive to her, which Ralph doesn't like. Carlos is teaching some of the women in the building how to mambo. Ralph comes home, puts a stop to the dancing and kicks everyone out. Ralph is upset that he'll have a cold meal because of the late dancing. Alice tells him he could learn a lot from Carlos as he's a gentlemen. They have a fight and Alice leaves. Ralph tells Norton that they have got to get rid of Carlos. Mr. Manicotti (Louis Sorin) comes by and complains about Carlos as well. Carlos comes back and Ralph tells him off. Carlos makes the men understand that they need to treat their wives better. Ralph says he's going to change and asks Carlos to teach him the mambo. Alice and Trixie find that their husbands being gentlemen is driving them crazy. The wives ask them to go back to the way they were before. Anne Seymour as Mrs. Stevens.

Note: Charles Korvin receives an ovation upon his entrance because he was a highly recognizable actor at the time, appearing on many films and TV series as The Loretta Young Show, Zorro and others.
24"Please Leave the Premises"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneMarch 10, 1956 (1956-03-10)

Alice tells Norton that Ralph went to the doctor because he's been irritable lately. Ralph comes home in a good mood. He says the doctor gave him a phrase to say to calm him down when he's upset. Landlord Johnson (Luis van Rooten) comes by and informs them that he's raising the rent $5 per month. Ralph is furious and the calming phrase doesn't work. Ralph tells Johnson he's not paying it and he'll just lock himself in the apartment. Johnson says he'll turn off the heat, gas, water and electricity. Ralph says Johnson is bluffing. Alice and Norton are against the idea of fighting the landlord. Later, Ralph has the door to the apartment barricaded and Johnson has everything shut off. Alice says they're running out of food. Norton comes by and says Johnson came by with the Sheriff and an eviction notice. Ed signed the rent increase. Johnson knocks on the door and tells Ralph that the Sheriff is posting a man outside. Ralph won't let Norton leave. Ralph's plan to go out the bedroom window doesn't work as the Sheriff had a man there as well. Alice and Ralph are evicted and are out on the street. Ralph says he's not giving up the fight and then it starts to snow. Ralph then says he'll give up, but only because Alice easily catches a virus.

Note: Includes the classic moment involving the phrase "Pins and needles, needles and pins, it's a happy man that grins".
25"Pardon My Glove"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnMarch 17, 1956 (1956-03-17)
Ralph's birthday is coming up and Alice is planning a surprise party for him. Ralph and Ed come home from a lodge meeting. Ed brought a pizza but Alice wants Ralph to have a salad. After she goes to bed, Ralph finds a note about the party. The next day Andre, an interior decorator, is discussing with Alice the changes he's going to make to the apartment. Alice tells Trixie that Morgan's department store is decorating the place for free for an advertising campaign. Alice canceled the birthday party for that evening because Andre will be coming back. Andre left one of his gloves and Alice hides it in the dresser drawer. Ralph comes home and is surprised there's no party. He then thinks it might be up at Norton's place, but Ed says it isn't. Ralph and Ed find the glove. When Alice insists that Ralph go bowling, he becomes very suspicious. Ralph tells Alice that he's going bowling, but then he and Ed hide on the fire escape. Andre comes by. Ralph bursts in from the fire escape and frightens Andre away. Alice explains how the apartment was going to be redecorated and how he ruined everything. Ralph apologizes and Alice gives him his birthday present..
26"Young Man with a Horn"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnMarch 24, 1956 (1956-03-24)

Norton tells Ralph that he went to fill out an application for a Civil Service test. Ed thinks Ralph should take the test as well and maybe get a better job. Alice finds Ralph's old coronet in the bedroom closet and wants to throw it away. Ralph says there are a lot of memories attached to the horn and wants to keep it. Ralph remembers lost career chances, and feels discouraged. Elderly couple Mr. and Mrs. Gunther come by the apartment. They used to live in there and would like to look around. Ralph realizes that the man is August Gunther, who owns a doughnut company. August tells Ralph that he is still young enough to become a success. Ralph should write down his strong and weak points so that he can correct his faults. The next day, Ralph is listing his good points and Norton will list his bad points. Ralph gets upset when Ed write down a lot of silly things. Ed decides to write down Ralph's good points and only lists one thing. But what he writes makes Ralph feel good. Later, the lists are posted on the wall. It's been a week and Ralph and Ed will find out soon if they passed their tests. Ed comes by with the news that neither of them passed. Alice tells Ralph she likes the new Ralph Kramden and he shouldn't give up.

Note: The song that Ralph tries to hit the high note on is "Carnival of Venice".
27"Head of the House"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaMarch 31, 1956 (1956-03-31)
Newspaper reporter Dick Prescott (Frank Marth) stops Ralph and Ed on the street. Prescott asks Norton who's the boss in his house. Norton says he is, but he doesn't want Prescott to print it because he doesn't want Trixie to see it. Ralph shoots off his mouth saying he's the boss and then reluctantly agrees to let it be printed. Prescott says it will be in this evening's paper. That night, Ralph doesn't bring the paper home, but then Norton comes by with one. Alice sees the article and tells Ralph there is no boss in their house. Ralph insists he's the boss and intends to celebrate by drinking a bottle of wine. Ralph goes to get Norton. Alice and Trixie dump out the wine and put in grape juice. Ralph and Ed start drinking and don't notice it's juice. They start getting drunk. Ralph and Ed sing a song and then pass out. The next day at the bus depot, Harry and Freddie (George Petrie) see the article. Norton comes by and then Ralph and Harry and Freddie congratulate Ralph. Joe Fensterblau bets Ralph that he can't order Alice to cook a special dinner for Joe that evening. Ralph calls Alice and she hangs up on him. Ralph decides that he and Ed will cook the meal. Cooking the meal turns into a disaster. Alice bails Ralph out and tells Joe that she ruined the meal and she'll cook him one the next day.
28"The Worry Wart"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneApril 7, 1956 (1956-04-07)
Ed asks Alice if they would like to go to an antique show. Alice says she lives with antiques. Ralph comes home and complains about all the bills in the mail. Ralph also got a letter from the IRS and believes it's a tax refund. But the letter orders that he appear at their office the next morning and Ralph wonders what for. Alice tells Ralph to not panic. It's late in the night and Ralph is going over his tax return to see if he made any mistakes. Norton comes down and tries to help Ralph. They go over his deductions and Ralph worries that he didn't claim some poker winnings. They get nowhere. The next morning Ralph and Ed go to see Richard Puder at the IRS office. Puder tells Ralph that he forgot to sign his tax form. Ralph signs it and they leave. They come back and Ralph and Ed say there were a few things they didn't report because they didn't know they had to. Puder gives them another form and thanks them for their honesty.
29"Trapped"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaApril 14, 1956 (1956-04-14)
Ralph is about to break the pool hall record for sinking the most consecutive balls. Norton shows up and causes Ralph to miss his shot. While playing a game of pool, Ed irritates Ralph enough that he leaves. Suddenly there are gun shots. Ralph comes back and tells Ed that he was standing outside a bank when a pair of bank robbers run out. They see him and fire a shot at him putting a hole in his hat. Ralph decides he won't tell the police anything because he's afraid the robbers will track him down and kill him. Harry, the pool hall attendant, says that the robbers killed the night watchman. Ralph and Norton leave to go home. Barney Dibbel (Frank Marth), one of the Hoodlums, follows them. Ralph comes home and every little thing and noise frightens him. Tommy Manicotti was by earlier and left his water pistol which Alice gives Ralph to return to the boy. Ralph tells Alice what he witnessed and she convinces him to go to the police. As he's about to leave, Barney and Danny (George Petrie), the other Hoodlum, show up. A Police car is heard outside. The crooks hold Alice hostage and tell Ralph not to say anything to the cops. A Detective (Ken Lynch) shows up and Ralph says he knows nothing. The Detective will leave a cop downstairs and Ralph has one day to talk. Ralph tries to scare the crooks with the water pistol, but Tommy comes to the door asking for it. Norton comes by and the crooks tie him and Alice to chairs. Ralph mouths off to Barney and he takes Ralph into the bedroom to work him over. Ralph beats up Barney and gets his gun. The crooks are taken down to the cop.
30"The Loudspeaker"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneApril 21, 1956 (1956-04-21)
Ralph is talking to Norton about the next evenings ceremony announcing the selection of Raccoon of the Year. Ralph believes he will be picked. The Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of the Raccoons called Ralph and said that he will be sitting on the dais that night and to be prepared to say a few words. Ralph gets upset when Alice isn't excited about the news. He tells her all the perks that come with the honor and she still doesn't care. The next day Ralph starts to write his "unprepared" acceptance speech. Alice says that the speech won't matter as the guys will all be too drunk. Norton listens as Ralph tries to memorize the speech. Trixie comes by and interrupts Ralph. Ralph then gets the hiccups. It's almost time for the ceremony and Ralph tells Alice a joke he's going to use. Alice doesn't think it's funny. Ralph goes upstairs to get Norton. Morris Fink, the Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler, comes by and gives Alice the speech he wants Ralph to make. Alice learns that Norton is to be the Raccoon of the Year. Alice gives Ralph the news and she makes him feel better.
31"On Stage"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaApril 28, 1956 (1956-04-28)

The Raccoon Lodge is in financial trouble and Ralph, the treasurer, doesn't know what to do. Ralph was writing a letter to the members because no one is paying their dues. Norton comes by the lodge to pick up Trixie from the Ladies Auxiliary meeting. Ralph tells Ed that the ladies suggested putting on a play to raise money. Alice comes by with Mr. Faversham (George N. Neise), a professional director. Faversham tricks Ralph into having the play by telling him what a great actor he is. The day of the play, Trixie tells Alice that the show is a sell out. Trixie says that Faversham's friend, Hollywood producer Herbert J. Whiteside, will be in the audience. Trixie says that Ed was disappointed that he didn't get a part in the play. Ralph comes home and starts "seeing stars" when he learns that Whiteside is in town to cast his new picture. Norton comes by and says that one of the cast is sick and won't make the play. Ed volunteers to fill in and he, Ralph and Alice rehearse a scene. After the show Freddie Muller (George Petrie), Chairman of the Entertainment Committee, congratulates Ralph. He says the show was a financial success. Faversham asks Ralph if Whiteside could speak with him. Ralph thinks Whiteside wants to cast him. Whiteside actually wants Alice for his picture. Alice tells Ralph she turned Whiteside down.

Note: Jackie Gleason uses his popular "Reggie Van Gleason III" character's voice while rehearsing as Frederick.
32"Opportunity Knocks But"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaMay 5, 1956 (1956-05-05)
Ralph is waiting for Norton outside the Gotham Bus Company building. J. J. Marshall, Ralph's boss, comes out and wants Ralph's help. Marshall received a new pool table as an anniversary gift from his wife. Hearing of Ralph's prowess at pool, he asks Ralph to stop by his house that night to teach him how to play. Norton shows up and Marshall invites him as well. Ralph sees this as a chance to "get in good with the boss" and he doesn't want Norton to ruin it. That night, Ralph and Ed show up to Marshall's apartment. Ralph reminds Ed to compliment Marshall after every shot he takes. Marshall shows up and says he'll learn more if he just watches them play. Ralph tries to start to play, but Norton keeps interrupting by making suggestions to Marshall with improvements for the bus company. Marshall is so impressed with Norton that he offers him a job as the Bus Driver Supervisor. The two will have lunch the next day at Marshall's office to discuss it further. Ralph comes home upset and tells Alice that Norton is going to be his boss. Alice says that Ed might not even take the job. Ed comes by and makes some comments about the job and Ralph kicks him out. Alice tries to cheer Ralph up and he decides to go apologize to Ed. Ed comes back and tells Ralph that Trixie reminded him that those suggestions he made were ones Ralph had come up with before. Ed just phrased them differently and he'll tell Marshall that. George Petrie as Fred.
33"Unconventional Behavior"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneMay 12, 1956 (1956-05-12)
Trixie asks Alice if she would like to stay with her while the husbands are at the Raccoon convention. Alice says she's staying at her mother's. Trixie says that Norton saved up spending money ($50 in 1955 = $480 in 2020) for the trip. Alice knows that Ralph will soon be asking her for the money. Trixie suggests only giving him the money if he takes her along. Alice is going to give him the money anyway. Ralph shows Ed some novelty items he bought for the convention. Ralph, in order to get spending money for the trip from Alice, decides to take her along, to Norton's chagrin – since it means Trixie will force him take her along as well. Ralph asks Alice to go with on the trip and believing he really wants her to go, she says yes. She then tells him she was going to give him the money anyway. When Norton asks him how he gets them into these fixes, Ralph replies that he has a "BIG MOUTH!" Ralph and Ed are on the train, but they're not sure the wives are on yet. The train leaves the station. Norton shows Ralph some of his novelty items and he puts him and Ralph in some "trick" handcuffs. The handcuffs won't come off and they have to try and sleep together in the same berth. Things do not go well and a conductor comes by to see what's wrong. They find out they're on the wrong train and heading in the wrong direction.
34"The Safety Award"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaMay 19, 1956 (1956-05-19)
Ralph wins an award as the safest bus driver in the city. He will get his picture and a feature story in a magazine. There will also be a ceremony at City Hall where Ralph, Alice, and the Nortons will meet the Mayor. Mr. Martin (Frank Marth), a Reporter, is interviewing Ralph outside of the bus company. Norton comes by and Martin asks him a few questions. Martin leaves and Ed says that he's worried that something will happen and Ralph will get into an accident. Freddie Muller (George Petrie) comes by and Ralph asks if he could borrow his car. The next day Ralph is a bundle of nerves. Ed and Trixie show up and Trixie and Alice have the same new dress on. Neither girl will change dresses but then they come to an understanding. Ralph and Ed wind up having the same suite jacket and Ralph changes. Ed offers to drive the car because Ralph is nervous, but Ralph says he'll drive. Ralph goes to get the car and then there's a loud crash. Ralph got into an accident, but he claims it wasn't his fault. Norton tells Ralph to settle it with the other guy so the word doesn't get out he was in an accident. At the ceremony, the City Administrator (Les Damon) congratulates Ralph. Ralph is told that Judge Hurdle (Calvin Thomas) will give him the award. The Judge arrives and it's the guy Ralph got into the accident with. The Judge admits that the accident was actually his fault and gives Ralph the award.
35"Mind Your Own Business"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaMay 26, 1956 (1956-05-26)
Norton tells Ralph that he believes that the promotion he wants will be given to a guy who's only been there a year. Ralph tells Ed to give his boss an ultimatum, either he gets the promotion or he quits. The next day, Ed tells Alice that he's been fired. Ralph comes home and Alice tells him about Ed. Ed comes back and tells Ralph not to feel bad that his advice didn't work. Alice is upset with Ralph and they both decide to help Ed and Trixie anyway they can. Weeks later, Ed starts a job selling steam irons door-to-door. Trixie feels guilty about eating with Alice and Ralph every night, but Alice doesn't mind. Ed tells Trixie his first day didn't go well and he only sold one iron. So Alice and Ralph don't worry about them anymore, Ed's going to say that he did very well on the job. When Ed tells Ralph how much money he made in one day, Ralph wants the job as well. Ed says he hasn't been there long enough to recommend someone. Ralph tells Alice he's going to charge Ed for the meals they had. Ralph decides to still get the salesman job as a back-up. Then he'll go and give his boss Mr. Marshall an ultimatum. After talking to Mr. Marshall, Ralph decides to keep his job. Norton tells Ralph and Alice that he got his job at the sewer back with a promotion. Norton says that he made up the story of his salesman success so they wouldn't worry about him. He thanks Ralph and Alice for their kindness.
36"Alice and the Blonde"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaJune 2, 1956 (1956-06-02)

Ralph and Ed come home late from a Raccoon Lodge meeting. Ed is locked out and wants to use Ralph's fire escape to try and get in through Ed's window. Alice wakes up and is upset with Ralph going out every night and neglecting her. Ralph tells her that the Lodge is going broke and he's the treasurer. Ed comes back saying Trixie won't let him in the apartment. Ralph says that the next night he has to play pool with Bert Wedemeyer. Burt could be the next General Manager of the bus company and Ralph wants to get on his good side. Ed doesn't think Alice would be happy about it. Ralph suggests taking the wives with to Burt's house. Burt has a new wife and Ralph plans on flattering her. Trixie comes by and Ralph tells her and Alice about going to Burt's house. The wives decide to get all dressed up like they did when they were dating. At Burt's place, Ralph and Ed don't even notice the wives new dresses. Rita Wedemeyer comes in the room and Ralph and Ed fawn all over her and their wives are not happy about it. Alice and Trixie want to leave and come up with a headache as an excuse. Ralph initially expects the wives to go without them, but Alice makes them all leave. The next day when Ralph comes home, Alice is all dolled up and starts flirting with him. She then tells Ralph off about the way he was acting towards Rita. He says he was just doing it to get on Burt's good side. Ralph feels bad for neglecting Alice and says he loves her.

Note: A rare flub in the dialog consists of Alice asking who Bert Wedemeyer is after Ralph mentions Bert "Wedermauer".
37"The Bensonhurst Bomber"Marvin Marx and Walter StoneSeptember 8, 1956 (1956-09-08)
At the pool hall, George (Leslie Barrett) and Harvey (George Mathews) are about to shoot a game, when they decide to get a drink. Ralph and Norton come in and start playing a game on the table. George comes back and tells them that he and his friend were using this table. Because George is a mousy little guy Ralph tells him to get lost. George says that he's going to tell Harvey about this. Ralph figure's that Harvey is also a little guy and says he'll take care of both of them. George comes back with Harvey who is a big tough guy. When Harvey learns that Ralph made fun of his name, he tells Ralph to meet him outside. Ralph says he would, but he has a new suit on. Harvey figures Ralph's scared and let's it go. Ed shoots off his mouth about Ralph and Ralph now has to meet Harvey at a gym on Saturday to settle things. On Saturday Ed tells Ralph about all the guys that are betting on the fight. Ralph says he's not going to the gym and he doesn't want Alice to know about the fight. Alice comes home and Ed says she won't get the secret out of him. Ralph says he's leaving for a couple weeks, but after talking to Alice, he's staying. Ed tries to show Ralph a few boxing moves and hits him in the stomach. Ed comes up with a plan to make Harvey think Ralph can really beat him up. Ed will have a friend of his come to the gym and let Ralph make it look like he knocks him out. At the gym and guy bumps into Ralph and Ralph knocks him out cold. Harvey changes his mind about fighting. Ed shows up and says his friend couldn't make it.
38"Dial J for Janitor"A.J. Russell and Herbert FinnSeptember 15, 1956 (1956-09-15)
The residents of the building are complaining about things that aren't working in their apartments. Mr. Johnson (Luis van Rooten), the landlord, comes by and tells Ralph and Ed that the janitor quit because of them. He had 4 janitors quit this year because they complain about Ralph and Ed. Mr. Johnson says he'll talk to his lawyer about getting them kicked out of the building. Because of the excellent pay and free rent, Ralph takes the janitor job. Alice wants to know how Ralph is going to be the janitor and keep his bus driver job. Ralph installs a house phone in the apartment so the tenants can get a hold of him. Because he went bowling the night before, Ralph has a long list of things to fix. The house phone buzzes constantly and then Norton comes by to complain about his lack of water and the garbage piling up. Ralph is in the boiler room. He figures if he increases the water pressure, it will solve Ed's water issue. While trying to get to the water valve, Ralph gets stuck between two air ducts. Norton tries to help without success. Police and Firemen arrive. Alice wants Ralph to tell Mr. Johnson that he's not capable of doing the janitor job. Ralph tells Johnson he'll be quitting. It's not because he can't handle the job, it just interferes with other things. Johnson says he already has another janitor. Ralph is upset because Norton circulated a petition to have him fired. Ed winds up being the new Janitor.
39"A Man's Pride"Leonard Stern and Sydney ZelinkaSeptember 22, 1956 (1956-09-22)
Ralph tells Ed that he ran into Bill Davis. Ralph and Bill both courted Alice. Ralph doesn't like Bill because he's one of those guys who always brags what a great success he is. Bill catches up with Ralph. Bill brags about his manufacturing business and how he's expanding. Ralph doesn't want to admit that he's only a bus driver, so he pretends he's the head of the bus company. Bill would like to see the company but Ralph makes up some excuses. But then Ralph tells Bill a time to come by when he figures his boss Mr. Monahan (Eddie Kane) will have left for the day. The next day, Monahan calls his wife and says he'll be stuck at the office longer than he thought and he leaves the room. Ralph comes in the office and sits at Monahan's desk. Monahan comes back in and Ralph makes up an excuse for being there. Monahan has to leave for 10 minutes. Ed comes in the office with Bill. Ralph is able to get Bill out before Monahan comes back. Bill gets a hold of Alice and arranges for her and Ralph to meet him and his wife Millie at an expensive restaurant. At the restaurant, Ralph tries to avoid talking about business. Ralph and Alice go for a dance. Bill tells Millie that he invited them. Bill didn't want Ralph to know he was just an assistant plumber. Bill hopes that Ralph will pick up the check. Ralph makes the gesture of offering to pay the check and Bill says OK. Ralph confesses he's just a bus driver and can't pay the check. Bill then confesses he can't pay it either. After a good laugh, they pool their money to pay the check.

Syndication and home media releases

The Honeymooners gained its greatest fame in syndication, where it has aired continually since its original cancellation. WPIX in New York City has aired the series for more than five decades (after it had initially run in 1957–1958 on WRCA-TV),[38] with occasional brief breaks. It regularly airs on WPIX with a marathon that begins on the final hour of New Year's Eve and runs well into New Year's Day.[26] In the United Kingdom, it originally aired on ITV between 1958–1963. BBC Two aired 38 of the original 39 episodes beginning in 1989 and ending in 1991.[20] The show also has aired in Australia, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Ireland and Suriname.[19] It previously was seen on WGN America from June 2008 to September 2009 and on Me-TV from December 2010 to September 2011. In April 2012, the show returned to Me-TV. The show currently airs on the network on Sunday nights.[39] Reruns of the show also air on Catchy Comedy.[40]

In 1984, the Museum of Television and Radio announced the discovery of four original "Honeymooners" sketches from The Jackie Gleason Show, and response was overwhelmingly positive. In January 1985, Gleason announced the release of an additional group of "lost" episodes from his private vault. As with the previously released sketches, these "lost episodes" were actually kinescopes from the 1952–55 and 1956–57 runs of The Jackie Gleason Show.[1] Because the prints had not been stored under ideal conditions, parts of the soundtracks of three episodes were unusable, and the voices had to be redubbed. Gleason personally approved the soundalike actors, with noted voice actor Joe Alaskey providing Ralph Kramden's lines.

Gleason sold the broadcast rights to the "lost" episodes to Viacom, and they first were aired from 1985 to 1986 as a series of 68 22-minute episodes on the Showtime cable network. They since have joined the original 39 episodes in syndication and also have been released on VHS and DVD.[1] In September 2004, another "lost" episode was discovered at the Peabody Award archives in Georgia. The episode, titled "Love Letter", originally aired on The Jackie Gleason Show on October 16, 1954.[41] It aired for the first time since then on October 16, 2004, its 50th anniversary, on TVLand. Viacom successor CBS Media Ventures, via CBS Broadcasting, owns the "Classic 39" series outright, while the Gleason estate owns the "lost episodes".

Paramount Home Entertainment/CBS DVD released a six-disc DVD box set titled The Honeymooners "Classic 39" Episodes in November 2003 (only available in Region 1). The set contains all 39 episodes from the series' original 1955–56 broadcast run. Also included in the set is an edited version of a 1990 anniversary special hosted by Meadows as well as original show openings and closings sponsored by Buick that were removed when the show entered syndication.

MPI Home Video released 80 of the "lost episodes" in Region 1 DVD format in 2001–02 on 24 single-disc volumes. MPI subsequently re-packaged the 24 volumes into six four-disc box sets. Production of the 24 individual volumes and the six four-disc box sets ceased in 2008, but MPI has since renewed its deal with Jackie Gleason Enterprises and has continued to release new editions of the "lost" episodes and other Honeymooners material not currently owned by CBS. In 2011, MPI announced the release of a completely restored set of all existing Honeymooners Lost Episodes from 1951 to 1957. The 50-hour, 15-DVD set contains 107 Honeymooners sketches and the home-video debut of the nine existing original DuMont Network sketches, six other sketches never before released on home video and the eight musical Honeymooners episodes from 1957 (the "Trip To Europe" shows). The set was released on October 4, 2011.

Overview of Lost Episodes DVD releases of The Honeymooners
DVD name Episode No. Release date
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 1 13 October 30, 2001
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 2 13 October 30, 2001
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 3 15 January 29, 2002
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 4 15 March 26, 2002
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 5 12 June 25, 2002
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes Collection 6 12 August 27, 2002
The Honeymooners – Lost Episodes: The Complete Restored Series 107 October 4, 2011

In June 2006, MPI released The Color Honeymooners – Collection 1 (NTSC and PAL), which collects the "Trip to Europe" story arc presented on The Jackie Gleason Show in 1966. It has since released an additional three volumes featuring additional episodes from this story arc. AmericanLife TV Network has also aired The Color Honeymooners shows under license from Gleason Enterprises and Paul Brownstein Productions.

In May 2022, MPI released Jackie Gleason TV Treasures, which includes three previously unreleased "Honeymooners" sketches from the early 1960s, the 1966 musical remake of "The Honeymooners: The Adoption" episode and seven color "Honeymooners" sketch episodes not included in previous collections.

Overview of DVD releases of The Honeymooners Collections
DVD name Episode No. Release date
The Color Honeymooners – Collection 1 9 June 27, 2006
The Color Honeymooners – Collection 2 8 February 26, 2008
The Color Honeymooners – Collection 3 12 May 27, 2008
The Color Honeymooners – Collection 4 12 August 26, 2008

Paramount and CBS Home Entertainment released the 39 episodes on Blu-ray disc in March 2014.[42]

In Australia (Region 4), Shock Entertainment released "The Honeymooners - Classic 39 Episodes" five-disc set in NTSC format on November 13, 2009,[43] rereleased on August 5, 2020.[44]

Impact

Legacy

Because of its enduring popularity, The Honeymooners has been referenced numerous times in American pop culture, and has served as the inspiration for other television shows, most notably The Flintstones. The show also introduced memorable catchphrases into American culture such as "Bang, zoom, straight to the Moon!", "One of these days... one of these days...," "Homina, homina, homina," and "Baby, you're the greatest."

The Flintstones

In 1960, the Hanna-Barbera-produced animated sitcom The Flintstones debuted on ABC. Many critics and viewers noted the close resemblance of the show's premise and characters to those of The Honeymooners,[49] and William Hanna and Joseph Barbera have both stated that The Honeymooners was among their inspirations for The Flintstones. Gleason later said that he considered suing but decided that becoming known as "the guy who yanked Fred Flintstone off the air" was not worth the negative publicity.[50] The Honeymooners had been compared in its day to the similar comedy series The Bickersons as well as to the work of Laurel and Hardy (particularly Sons of the Desert). The Flintstones series and its spinoffs changed over the years and deviated from the similarities to The Honeymooners.

Spoofs, parodies and importation

  • In the Futurama episode "The Series Has Landed", Ralph Kramden is believed to have been an early astronaut, due to his catchphrase (which Fry protests was "a metaphor for beating his wife".)
  • In the episode "Spanish Fry" of the same show, Lrrr says, "One of these days, Ndnd, bang! zoom! straight to the third moon of Omicron Persei 8!!"
  • The Moonlighting episode "A Trip To The Moon" contains a lengthy parody of The Honeymooners as The Bluemooners, with Bruce Willis as Ralph, Charles Rocket as Norton, Allyce Beasley as Trixie, and Cybill Shepherd as Alice.
  • The sitcom The King of Queens was partially inspired by The Honeymooners.[51]The Honeymooners, among other shows, was parodied directly in a dream sequence in the episode "Inner Tube".
  • Robert McKimson would pay homage the show with a series of animated Looney Tunes shorts, in which the principal characters, Ralph and Alice Crumden and Ned and Trixie Morton, are depicted as mice and Ralph's "big dream" is to get enough cheese to impress Alice. These cartoons are The Honey-Mousers (1956), Cheese It, the Cat! (1957), and Mice Follies (1960). McKimson would also direct the 1956 Bugs Bunny cartoon Half-Fare Hare, in which Bugs is pitted against caricatures of Ralph and Ed as train-riding hoboes.
    • Friz Freleng would also reference the Honeymooners in the Sylvester and Tweety short Red Riding Hoodwinked (1955) also features the usually-cheerful Granny character taking on the role of blustery, female Ralph. In another Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, A Bird in a Bonnet (1958), when Sylvester falls into an open manhole, inside a voice like Ed Norton's says, "Whoo-hoo-hoo! Hey, look at this, Ralph, a pussycat." To which Sylvester simply peers out of the sewer to the audience.
  • The writer/comic Louis C.K. stated in an interview that he based the layout of Louie's apartment in the HBO show Lucky Louie on the Kramdens' apartment, in contrast to other shows such as The King of Queens that have very nicely decorated apartments despite the characters' professed low incomes.[52]
  • Stan Freberg created a brief audio skit titled "The Honeyearthers", in which Ralph, Alice, Norton, and Trixie are aliens living on the moon. In keeping with the 1950s ideas of what aliens would look like, they have two heads, one eye, one ear, four hands, three feet and antennae. Ralph drives a rocket ship and Norton works in a "green cheese mine". At the end of the skit, Ralph offers to take Alice on a "honeyearth" to renew their marriage.
  • In Back to the Future (1985) George McFly (Crispin Glover) and his older son Dave (Marc McClure) are seen cracking up in nerdy fashion while watching the episode "The Man from Space". After his younger son Marty (Michael J. Fox) goes back in time to November 5, 1955, he watches the same episode at the home of his then-teenaged mother Lorraine Baines (Lea Thompson), where her father (George DiCenzo) wheels their newly acquired television set in front of the family table, saying giddily: "Now we can watch Jackie Gleason while we eat!" – a reference to the TV series. In real life though, November 5, 1955 was the day "The Sleepwalker" aired, while "The Man from Space" aired on December 31.
  • In the 21 Jump Street season 3 episode "High High" (where the Jump Street team is assigned to go undercover at a performing arts school), Doug Penhall cites The Honeymooners as one of his favorite shows growing up. Towards the end, he reenacts a scene from the episode "Young Man with a Horn" for acting class.
  • The Honeymooners was spoofed in an episode of Perfect Strangers as a result of the character Balki Bartoukomos (Bronson Pinchot)'s spinning an extended metaphor about the characters' existential situation to an episode of The Honeymooners he had once seen; Balki's description of the episode is shown in a black-and-white flashback.
  • As Ralph Kramden was a New York City bus driver, one of the service depots in Brooklyn was renamed the Jackie Gleason Bus Depot in 1988. All buses that originate from the bus depot bear a sticker on the front that has a logo derived from the "face on the Moon" opening credits of The Honeymooners. The MTA also took 1948 GM-TDH5101 bus number 4789, renumbered it to 2969 and made it the 'official Jackie Gleason bus'.
  • A statue of Gleason as Ralph Kramden stands at the Eighth Avenue entrance to the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City. The plaque on the base of the statue reads, "Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden — Bus Driver — Raccoon Lodge Treasurer — Dreamer — Presented by the People of TV Land"[53]
  • An episode of The Simpsons, "The Ten-Per-Cent Solution", includes a fictional rip-off of The Honeymooners called The Adventures of Fatso Flannigan.
  • In 2011, an adult parody titled The Honeymoaners was released by DreamZone Entertainment, with Peter O'Tole as Ralph and Anthony Rosano as Ed. Both actors also played Fred and Barney in The Flintstones – A XXX Parody, an adult parody of the Flintstones, which have a resemblance to the show (as mentioned above). The plot of the parody is similar to the episode "The $99,000 Answer", only here the show is called "The $69,000 Answer" and Ralph is answering questions about sex.
  • The Honeymooners was spoofed in episode 22 of the first season of Saturday Night Live (then known as NBC's Saturday Night) in a sketch featuring The Killer Bees (referenced as 'The Bees' in this particular episode). John Belushi took the role of Ralph, with Gilda Radner as Alice, Dan Aykroyd as Norton, and Jane Curtin as Trixie.
  • The first adult film parody of the show, Honeymooners, premiered in 1976 and starred John Leslie as the Ralph Kramden character.
  • The Toronto Coach Terminal included a restaurant and bar named Kramden's Kafe from 1990 until 2013.
  • The Honeymooners was partly the inspiration for the Nickelodeon series Kenan & Kel.
  • In 1988 Ron Jeremy led a cast of adult performers in the critically panned The Horneymooners.
  • Seth MacFarlane's "Family Guy" has parodied it on numerous occasions.

Adaptations and remakes

The success of The Honeymooners in countries outside the United States has led to the production of new shows based entirely on it.

International remakes

Żak holding his face and looking to the camera
Polish tram driver, Karol Krawczyk (Cezary Żak), inspired by Ralph Kramden in Miodowe lata
 Indonesia

Two series, 26 episodes in all were made for R.C.T.I. in 1996. It was the first sitcom of that style ever attempted in Indonesia. It was titled Detak Detik (Ticking Seconds) and starred Mat Sola as the Jackie Gleason character. Art Carney rang the cast prior to production to give them his best wishes. It was decided to make Mat Sola a Silver Bird taxi driver, as they had a bit more prestige in Indonesia. They left Nurbuat, who mirrored Ed Norton, as a sewerage worker. The chemistry worked well. The series had to remove any references to alcohol, as Indonesia is a country with a Muslim majority population.

 Canada

French Canada was entertained[citation needed] for years in the 1960s and '70s by a sitcom titled Cré Basile, with Olivier Guimond, Béatrice Picard, Denis Drouin and Amulette Garneau, which was an uncredited Quebecois version of The Honeymooners. It could, by contemporary standards, qualify as plagiarism[citation needed].

 Netherlands

In 1994, the Dutch broadcasting network KRO produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Toen Was Geluk Heel Gewoon (Back then happiness was common), using translated scripts of the original series but changing its setting to 1950s Rotterdam. After the original 39 scripts were exhausted, the series' lead actors, Gerard Cox and Sjoerd Pleijsier, took over writing, adding many new characters and references to Dutch history and popular culture. The series was a hit in the Netherlands and it finished its run after 16 years and 229 episodes in June 2009.[54] The actors reprised their characters five years later in a feature-length movie.

 Sweden

In 1994, the Swedish network TV4 produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Rena Rama Rolf, but changing its setting to contemporary Gothenburg, where Rolf (Ralph), played by Lasse Brandeby, is working as a streetcar driver. The show ran until 1998.[55]

 Poland

In 1998, the Polish network Polsat produced a version of The Honeymooners titled Miodowe lata which translates to "Honey years" (because in Polish a honeymoon is translated as a "honey month"), using both translated scripts of the original series and new ones, but changing its setting to modern-day Warsaw. The original series ran until 2003 and was continued in 2004 as Całkiem nowe lata miodowe.[56]

Comics

Vince Musacchia created a comic book series based on The Honeymooners for Hypergraphics between 1987 and 1989.[57]

Film

On June 10, 2005, a feature film remake of The Honeymooners was released, featuring a predominantly African American cast. The roles of Ralph, Alice, Ed, and Trixie were played by Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union, Mike Epps, and Regina Hall, respectively. The movie was a critical and commercial failure, earning slightly more than US$13 million worldwide.[58] The film was released by Paramount Pictures.

Video game

In 1988, First Row Software released a Honeymooners computer game for the Commodore 64 and DOS systems. The game involves the Kramdens and Nortons trying to earn $223 for train fare to Miami Beach, where Ralph wants to host the annual Raccoon Lodge convention, by playing a variety of mini-games related to the series. Additionally, players have the option of trying to double their money after each round by answering a Honeymooners-related question in a bonus round based on "The $99,000 Answer" episode.

Reboots

In December 2016, a CBS reboot of The Honeymooners with Bob Kushell writing and executive producing the series was announced but it never came to fruition. Producers Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly, Eric & Kim Tannenbaum, and Jeff Greenstein were also announced as part of the development deal.[59]

In January 2022, a CBS reboot of The Honeymooners with Damon Wayans Jr. executive producing the series was announced.[60]

Musical

In September 2017, Paper Mill Playhouse produced the world-premiere of a musical adaptation of The Honeymooners, starring Michael McGrath as Ralph, Michael Mastro as Ed, Leslie Kritzer as Alice, and Laura Bell Bundy as Trixie. The musical had a book by Dusty Kay and Bill Nuss, with music by Stephen Weiner and lyrics by Peter Mills. It was directed by John Rando and choreographed by Joshua Bergasse.[61]

Further reading

  • Crescenti, Peter; Bob Columbe (1990). The Official Honeymooners Treasury: To the Moon and Back with Ralph, Norton, Alice, and Trixie. Perigee Books. ISBN 9780399516405. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  • Katsigeorgis, John (2002). To the Moon: The Honeymooners Book of Trivia – Official Authorized Edition. Metrobooks. ISBN 1-58663-694-4.
  • McCrohan, Donna and Peter Crescenti (1986). The Honeymooners Lost Episodes. Workman Publishing. ISBN 0-89480-157-0.
  • McCrohan, Donna (1978). The Honeymooners' Companion: the Kramdens and the Nortons Revisited. Workman. ISBN 9780894800221. Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  • Meadows, Audrey (1994). Love, Alice: My Life as a Honeymooner. Crown Publishers. ISBN 0-517-59881-7.

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External links

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