Time Life is bringing some of the best in comedy for the next generation as “The Jackie Gleason Show: In Color” comes in February.
John Herbert Gleason who came to be known as Jackie brought his unusual comedy styling’s through the character of Ralph Kramden the bus driver in the television series “The Honeymooners.” His life didn’t start out quite as funny being raised by a single mother after his father walked out with hat in hand and didn’t come back.
When his mother Mae passed away when Jackie was 19, he was taken in by a friend who introduced him to his first comedy job. A few years later he would be signed by Jack Warner and appeared in such films as the 1941 “Navy Blues” and in a film with Humphrey Bogart in 1941 with “All Through the Night.”
Television came to call in 1949 and after several shows, he would host “The Jackie Gleason Show” in 1954-55 that brought audiences iconic characters such as Joe the Bartender, The Poor Soul, Charlie Bratton and Fenwick Babbit with so many more.
In 1966, Jackie Gleeson returns with a new season and color episodes of “The Honeymooners.” His guests would include Milton Berle, Red Buttons, George Carlin, Nipsey Russell, Phil Silvers in color.
This DVD gives viewers a look at four never-before-seen released episodes that have been beautifully remastered. There are also three Honeymooners sketches that haven’t been seen since originally aired.
The show was recorded in Miami Beach and happily had bragging rights as the place of sun and fun. Taped there until the final 1970 season, the master tapes stayed in the vault until now.
Staring off with Jackie spending a little time with Red Buttons is comedy and timing that is nothing short of delightful. Seeing the very handsome and young Frankie Avalon singing once again is such a treat for me as he was one of my mother’s favorite singers.
Not to be outdone, Jackie spends time with Phil Silvers are they dance and annoy one another over the word ‘aluminum’. On stage with a cigarette in one hand and a comedic insult in the other, Jackie lets everything fly. Instead, Phil gives us a bit of his own version of a mix of romantic song with an operatic flare.
The most amazing part of the DVD is the revisit of “The Honeymooners” as Jackie returns as Ralph Kramden, Art Carney as Ed Norton, along with Sheila MacRae as Alice Kramden and Jane Kean as Trixie Norton. When a dog’s doctor report comes into Ralph’s hands, comedy is inevitable.
Sammy Spear as Jackie’s orchestra leader, he musically announces guests such as song-bird Florence Henderson and the very funny Morey Amsterdam who also provides a little cello entertainment. There is also more from those amazing Honeymooners.
Nipsey Russell brings song, dance and clever poetry with his comedy and Jackie knows a talent when he sees it. The comedy of Jan Murray decides to teach Jackie how to golf just a little better.
Milton Berle stops by to exchange humor with Jackie and the show also includes Edie Adams singing about the famous cabaret and sharing some famous impressions. A suit-wearing young man you may know as funnyman George Carlin has short hair and no bear but still hilarious.
Time Life continues to bring never before released anywhere classic collections of television shows for fans to revisit and remember what has made television so special. Time Life has released “Mama’s Family,” “CPO Sharkey” and “The Tonight Show” and they now remind of us of a time when sex and politics were up for grabs with “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In.” For more of what Time Life has to offer fans of classic television visit www.timelife.com.
That’s what makes this collection so amazing; revisiting the weekly entertainment that kept families laughing can now be experiencesd once again. The comedy is superb and even racy at times (especially for the time period), the music is very nostalgic yet the ladies are lovely and the fun was clearly had by all.
Jackie Gleason came to be known as The Great One and for good reason. He gave us all laughs and from stage, television and the big screen, Gleason made an impact in every genre he undertook. Even in his later year, nothing stopped him from making us all laugh from his character in “Smokey and the Bandit” to his final film role in that is beautiful with “Nothing In Common” alongside Tom Hanks.
In the end – he reminds us all of “how sweet it is!”