Things You Didn’t Know About Jackie Gleason

4 min readSep 21

“The Great One” could have been even greater.

Creative Commons: by Los Angeles Times

Jackie Gleason was an enormously talented man. He is perhaps best known as Ralph Kramden of “The Honeymooners”. There are only 39 episodes of The Honeymooners. The fact that there are only 39 episodes of the series and yet the show is so iconic speaks to the talent of both Gleason and the rest of the cast.

Beyond “The Honeymooners,” Gleason played many other memorable characters. Gleason’s fame came in spite of an impoverished background and a lot of personal baggage. With that backdrop, here are some things you might not have known about Jackie Gleason.

1: Gleason did a notable turn as lawman, Buford Pusser.

Hold on, being told he actually played Buford T Justice in ‘Smokey and the Bandit,” not Buford Pusser in “Walking Tall.” Well, that is quite a difference.

2: Jackie was musically talented with his LPs “Music for Lovers Only (1953) and “Music to Make You Misty” (1955) achieving gold record status.

Jackie made an interesting observation about mood -setting music. He said he noticed whenever Clark Gable made a romantic move, the appropriate music would play. He figured average guys could also use the help. Now, whenever I see a Clark Gable movie, I’ll be looking for the band traveling with him.

3: There are some reports that Jackie gave himself the nickname, “The Great One.”

That does take some of the gloss off that nickname.

4: Early in his career, Jackie got a job at New York’s Club 18. Insulting patrons was a common thing there.

Sort of like the Don Rickles School of Comedy.

5: When Gleason reported for military induction, his medical report wasn’t pretty.

It turned out Jackie’s left arm had been broken and hadn’t healed properly, he had a pilonidal cyst at the end of his coccyx and was 100 pounds overweight. Other…


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