Jackie Gleason fought to get Art Carney more money

Gleason used his pull for his pal.

CBS Television Distribution

Nobody is successful without the right context. Victory cannot exist in a vacuum, and so a person with goals in mind must soon assemble a team. Even people who are wildly fortunate in making a name for themselves rarely do it without the help of others. That's true of athletes, politicians, and especially of comedians. 

When he started climbing the television hierarchy, Jackie Gleason knew he'd have to put together a good team to surround himself with. He'd need efficient people. Show business success would require secretaries and producers and directors and musicians and announcers. Especially in Gleason's preferred presentational format. He would need a lot of people.

When The Honeymooners was coming together as a part of Gleason's Cavalcade of Stars show, he knew that his character would need a cast around him. The 2011 biography Golden Ham: A Candid Biography of Jackie Gleason features earlier discussions about finding a comedic stage partner.

"This Ralph Kramden is going to need a pal," said Gleason. "A buddy. A guy who lives upstairs. He's going to have to be funny, and yet he can't be funny like me. I need a good situation comic, an actor. Now, who?"

Luckily, Gleason already had people around him with his best interest at heart. One of those people suggested Art Carney, with whom Gleason had a pre-existing working relationship. It became clear that Carney was the man for the job, and soon enough, Ed Norton had a face.

The contrast was clear to anyone who tuned in. Gleason and Carney embodied opposite physiques. The men were different onstage and off, with Carney living a much quieter, more subdued family life than the one lived by Gleason.

But when producers and writers overlooked Carney, it was Gleason who stood up for his co-star. The more established host pushed for bigger billing and more money for Carney. 

When scripts weren't written with enough laughs for Carney, Gleason would confront the writers, telling them to "write Art in bigger than you have him."

Carney was happy with his lot in life as well. He's quoted in Golden Ham saying, "I don't want the responsibility of my own show. This way I make good money and Jackie has to make the decisions and whip the show together. 

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WordsmithWorks 1 month ago
The formula was most definitely successful.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
It's good to have a friend like Jackie Gleason!
Bapa1 1 month ago
What a pal! Carney was great in the Honeymooners.
cperrynaples Bapa1 1 month ago
Fun Fact: In the first Honeymooners sketch, Carney WASN'T Ed Norton! He was a cop who had flour dumped on him by Ralph!
Nice tidbit. You deserve an official Raccoons salute.
Lifting the tail on my raccoon hat and twirling it - "Wo wo wo wo wo."
You can see this sketch on Youtube! Look up Really Lost Honeymooners!
The Honeymooners lost episodes are worth a watch. You can find them on tubi. All the sketches from Cavalcade of Stars and the Jackie Gleason Show.
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