The original opening line for the show in its first two years on the air was "From New York City, The Entertainment Capital of the World." The "sun-and-fun capital" slogan was created upon the show's move to Miami Beach in 1964. See more »
Jackie Gleason's hour-long variety show from 1962 to 1966 was a must-see then, and still is today. Unfortunately, the powers that be have seen fit to deprive the public of that rare treasure in either DVD or VHS format. In the opening monologues, Gleason would do a few jokes, drink booze from a coffee cup - "MMMMMMMMM-BOY, thats good coffee..." or bulge his eyes out with "WOW!", choke on a cigarette - while claiming "it pays to smoke the best!", and dance his way off the stage with "a little traveling music, Mr. Spear! - AND AWAY WE GO!!!" The next hour was an often riotous menagerie of mostly pantomime sketches involving one of several of Gleason's brilliant characters. There was "The Poor Sole", whom often easily wrenched audience hearts through Gleason's amazing ability to generate pathos with his humor - the likes of which can only be compared to Chaplin. Another character had a very long, narrow mustache and a straw hat, and was constantly drunk. And of course, who could forget the impeccable Reginald Van Gleason, a tuxedo and top-hatted daredevil who would stub out his cigarette and put it in his pocket before each stunt. Gleason introduced many famous comedians on his show, as well. The first time many Americans saw Rodney Dangerfield was on Gleason's December, '66 show. Gleason routinely took the summers off, from June to September. He filmed his show in NYC at first, but by series end had moved to Miami Beach, and boasted this at the beginning of each show. The June Taylor Dancers would do a great fan-dance at the beginning of each show and overhead shots of them forming patterns like a kaleidoscope were routine. Gleason would traditionally cap his show at the end with a skit involving "Joe the Bartender" and a somewhat gassed and goofy patron called "Crazy Gugenheim" - portrayed by the immortal Frankie Fontaine (who lived about 2 miles from me, in my home town of Winchester, Massachusetts!) At the end of the skit, Fontaine would sing a song that was often moving and completely out of character - similar to Jim Nabors' "Gomer Pyle" and his singing ability. In the summer of 1980, while Gleason was still alive, he authorized half-hour segments of the original hour-long shows to be rebroadcast for a very brief period. These were a real treat to see, but chopping them up like that just didn't do them justice. Also, unless one was very savvy and well-to-do, and had the foresight to have purchased one of the earliest VCRs prior to that airing, one would not have a had an opportunity to capture the show. So, public domain copies are probably extremely rare, if they exist at all. To my knowledge, the entire show was filmed in Black and White. I am not sure, but I think Gleason goes to color in 1967 with the return of "The Honeymooners". During the 1967-70 shows, where they are doing the Honeymooners again, Gleason and Art Carney take a break and do the most marvelous impersonation of Laurel and Hardy I have ever seen. It was utterly hysterical. Almost better than the original two!
I am pleading with the owners of the Gleason show copyrights to please allow us to see them once again in our lifetime - PLEASE RELEASE THE ENTIRE 1962-1966 series shows to DISK!!!! PLEASE RELEASE THE ENTIRE Honeymooners II 1967-1970 series shows to DISK!!!!
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