Audrey Meadows almost didn't get the role of Alice because of her appearance

Jackie Gleason thought she was too young, too pretty and wasn't a right fit for the role at first.

Although Audrey Meadows wasn't the first actress to play Alice Kramden, The Honeymooners wouldn't be the same without her.

The on-screen chemistry between her and Jackie Gleason made the series a classic, even though it only had one season. However, Gleason was initially unsure if Meadows was suitable for the role. It wasn't about her ability to bring the part to life, though. The actor thought her appearance wasn't a good fit.

During an interview with The Tampa Tribune in 1977, Meadows talked about how she tricked Gleason into thinking she was a different woman.

"I almost didn't get the job of Alice for the series in 1956 because Jackie Gleason said I was too young, too pretty, and not right for the part," she said to The Tampa Tribune staff writer Barbara Hunting. "I knew I was right for it, so I hired a photographer to come to my apartment early in the morning when I would look half-asleep. I pulled back my hair, no make-up, put on an ugly outfit, and had him take my picture."

This was a great idea because the actor took one look at the photos and said, "that's the one." He did not recognize her at all. Eventually, Gleason discovered that she was the woman he turned away because of her looks. Yet, he wasn't upset. He was impressed with her humor and dedication to getting the role.

According to The Honeymooners actress, he said, "any woman with the sense of humor to take this awful picture deserves a job." Meadows also revealed how the series came together. It wasn't like a usual production where lines were rehearsed before filming.

"You would not have believed how The Honeymooners show was put together," she began, "No rehearsals, just read the lines. I remember one time when Gleason said, 'We'll do it Civil War style, just shoot who speaks.' It was great fun working with Art Carney and Gleason."

Meadows remembered Art Carney as a sweet guy who was shy until he knew someone well. Fans worldwide would often send her letters about how much they loved the show.

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31 Comments

Tommy7777 2 months ago
I believe Audrey Meadows took over for Pert Kelton who was blacklisted at this time. The early Honeymooners was mostly screaming, the show matured as time went on. All of these episodes were available on Prime but I think they are no longer available there. People don't realize the Honeymooners had several seasons other than the filmed 39. Those seasons were part of his one hour variety show in the 1950s. The 1960s color episodes, including the Trip to Europe, were just a rehashing of these "lost" episodes scripts, which were never lost but held back by Gleason until the 1980s.
George58 5 months ago
One of THE funniest shows ever made. And with a simple set (table, ice box, drawer & sink) unlike all these other million dollar shows that think they're funny. MeTV, how about giving me a Christmas present by taking off that All In The Family Show. It sucks!! Bring back the Perry Mason TV Movies for Sunday night.
Provasek 14 months ago
Two of the photos that got her the job
bagandwallyfan52 19 months ago
Happy Birthday To Marlo Thomas
That GIRL
November 21 1937
BHappy22 19 months ago
Hi and Happy Sunday to you. I just love the METVNetwork!
Runeshaper 19 months ago
This "any woman with the sense of humor to take this awful picture deserves a job." = GOLD LOL
BHappy22 Runeshaper 19 months ago
❤❤❤ I just love Alice Kramden.
CoreyC 19 months ago
Lucille Ball didn't want Vivian Vance as Ethel Mertz cause Vivian was too pretty.
cperrynaples CoreyC 19 months ago
TRUE! Vance was younger than Lucy, but was told to dress frumpy! Vance also hated that William Frawley played her husband Fred!
Runeshaper cperrynaples 19 months ago
She was AWESOME!
MsRockford74 19 months ago
Love the Honeymooners!! We watch the Christmas episode every year on Christmas Eve. It's awesome that Joyce Randolph is still around at 98:)
BHappy22 MsRockford74 19 months ago
Yes that's one of my favorite.
Steve2021 19 months ago
The Earley "lost Honeymooners" I wasn't a big fan of the first Alice. The Classic 39 episodes are a classic. Love Audrey Meadows she played the part. and a wwway we go !
BHappy22 Steve2021 19 months ago
I think they both were great in that role.
JHP 19 months ago
Audrey Meadows was a super doll X1000
Andybandit 19 months ago
I love the Honeymooners. I wish there were more seasons. "Your a riot Alice". "Your going straight to the Moon", or "One of these days straight to the moon Alice."
McGillahooala 19 months ago
What are the best shows ever.
Correction, one of the best shows ever.
BrittReid 19 months ago
Glad Audrey got the job, she was a great Alice with comebacks and facial expressions. She was a pretty woman and had to wear flats, so she wasn't taller than Ralph.
MrsPhilHarris 19 months ago
Shame still looked pretty, just not glamorous.
Pacificsun 19 months ago
Such a great story! Thanks MeTV Staff. We can't get enough Honeymooners backstories. It was so authentic and unselfconscious. Just putting pure entertainment out there. And like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett, Jackie Gleason just had the instinct for it.

Few pics with Alice looking straight on, but either way, she was still very pretty!



JHP Pacificsun 19 months ago
You bet the farm on that:)
JHP Pacificsun 19 months ago
and I really liked her in that "lil girl" outfit that she wore at the racoon costume party (man from space)
BrittReid JHP 19 months ago
Ditto...............!
JHP BrittReid 19 months ago
so pretty - so elegant
cperrynaples 19 months ago
I should make note of the first Alice Pert Kelton! She had a harder edge to her performance which explains why Jackie first rejected Audrey! So why didn't Kelton continue as Alice? Many sources said she had heart problems, but the truth is much sadder! CBS wouldn't hire her because her husband was registered with the Communist party, which was unacceptable in 1952! Eventually she got to appear on Twilight Zone and even played Alice's mother [AKA the Blabbermouth] in the '60's Honeymooners!
harlow1313 cperrynaples 19 months ago
Thanks for the info. I watched a clip of Pert on the Youtube, and thought her excellent. I love The Mooners, but Pert was born to be Mrs. Ralph Kramden.
Pacificsun cperrynaples 19 months ago
Oh wow, but I watched the clip before commenting anyway. Amazing why viewers thought that kind of an exchange was entertaining. Real, yes. But didn't viewers want to escape their own hardships! The scheming part was always funny. Thank Gad for Art Carney who's masterful timing created all those "bits" but Pelton, at least in this clip, is a shrew.

By the time she did play the role of the second Alice Kramden's mother, she was old, or portrayed it that way.

Second observation, which is really going to shove me out the door. Is that there was a real fear of Communism in that day. And they hadn't even gotten to the Cold War stage. Were people justified in blackballing innocent victims who lost their livelihood and reputations. No more than classifying entire cultures in America for the deeds of there ancestors. We get it now., I get that. The problem was that WWII was still very real for Americans then. Think of those in imprisoned in very cruel camps and whose loved ones were killed. It was difficult to tell (then) who was sympathetic to a foreign ideology versus who was just as critical as every American. Many were damned by association. But it didn't help being "listed" in the Party itself. It was kind of an insult to those who fought for freedom, right. And just as we see what's happening with social media now, sponsors will abandon-ship, if perceived as supporting or sponsoring unpopular thinking.

What's the solution, then or now. Idealism is always challenged by reality and the fact of how people have to live with it. But we shouldn't punish those who are innocent, obviously. But it is useful to understand history.
harlow1313 Pacificsun 19 months ago
>"What's the solution"< Allow for free expression of differences without a hysterical fear-based reaction.
BrittReid cperrynaples 19 months ago
What's that your lunchbox?
ncadams27 Pacificsun 19 months ago
There was a book called Red Channels that listed 151 entertainment professionals who were considered to be Communist sympathizers. The decision to hire or not hire someone often came from the sponsors, who were concerned that their products would be considered un-American.
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