The story begins at the height of Gleason's career. He has it all: women, wealth, and extraordinary power. But he is haunted by memories of his childhood. Gleason spends his formative years... See full summary »



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Nominated for 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
George 'Bullets' Durgom
Genevieve Halford
Danny Wells ...
Jack L. Warner (as Jack Daniel Wells)
Sammy Birch
Sol Friedman
Vlasta Vrana ...
Jack Philbin - Gleason's manager
Marilyn Taylor
Mae Gleason
Jack Langedijk ...
Herb Gleason
Jake Brockman ...


The story begins at the height of Gleason's career. He has it all: women, wealth, and extraordinary power. But he is haunted by memories of his childhood. Gleason spends his formative years entering amateur contests, performing in sleazy night spots. Along the way, he steals gags from the best comics in town and finds love with Genevieve, a dancer whom he marries. But Gleason isn't the ideal husband or even a responsible father as he abandons his family to answer the call of Hollywood. Brash, arrogant, and egotistical, he alienates his directors and the man who discovers him. When he ends up back in New York, Gleason gets one of those rare second chances in the new medium of television, creating some of its most unforgettable characters. But even as Gleason becomes the talk of the tube, his life - ruled by demons of rage, booze, and insecurity - unravels. Written by Echo Bridge Home Entertainment

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He made more than television. He made history. See more »


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Release Date:

13 October 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Gleason: The Jackie Gleason Story  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Producer/star Brad Garrett and director Howard Deutch agreed to pay make-up artist Greg Cannom's salary when the network balked at the size of his fee. See more »


Gleason is shown being fired from Navy Blues in 1949 or 1950. In real life, the film premiered in 1941 and he was not fired. Also, Cavalcade of Stars was not his TV debut. He starred in the short-lived series The Life of Riley. See more »


References The Jackie Gleason Show (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

Above-average TV flick. Great performance from Garrett
17 October 2002 | by (Chicago, Illinois, USA) – See all my reviews

Brad Garrett (now an Emmy-winner for "Everybody Loves Raymond") really pulled this off superbly. Judging from the wealth of mannerisms, tics, vocal inflections, attitudes, and body language, it would seem that he made a careful study of Jackie Gleason in the various stages of his life. The hard work paid off in a vivid characterization that really brought the man to life without any cartoon-like exaggerations. The rest of the cast were uniformly good, but if Garrett hadn't managed as well as he did, it would hardly have mattered.

The writing, direction, and cinematography were above average for a TV movie, in my opinion, and I didn't really find the three-level flashbacks all that confusing. As an earlier commentator said, this was a long, turbulent, and wide-ranging life, and the three levels of flashback were an effective way of touching on several different stages of Gleason's life without expanding it to miniseries length.

I too was interested to see if any of Gleason's movie work would be portrayed, as I have fond memories of "Soldier in the Rain," "The Hustler," "Requiem for a Heavyweight," and that strange film where he tried to do a Chaplinesque turn as a mute simpleton, "Gigot." I'm guessing that in the interest of keeping it under two hours, and in consideration of the fact that most people see Gleason as a TV star first and foremost, that part of the story was jettisoned. It would have been interesting, though.

Before having seen it, I'd read some statements cautioning avid "Honeymooners" fans that they might be annoyed with the recreations in this film. I can see what they were talking about, in that several scenes from the show about Ralph getting a TV set were smooshed together into a single scene. While it managed to get the most memorable lines from the show together in a single compact scene, it could be a bit off-putting to those who know the shows so well that they've memorized the scripts (that's me, I'm afraid). The overall excellence of the production, and Garrett's outstanding performance, made this a forgivable sin for me.

Gleason's personality is not shown in a particularly good light in this piece. He is portrayed as being insecure, egocentric, petty, tyrannical, abrasive, possessive, and yet aloof from even his closest friends and colleagues. From everything I've read about the man, that's pretty much true. I still love Gleason and the expansive, lovable, down-to-earth everyman character he created for himself, even if I know it's not really true, but it tends to confirm my suspicion that it's always best to worship your heroes from afar.

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