Classic Hollywood #5

The Great One, 1954

Jackie Gleason, star of one of the funniest televsion shows ever, The Honeymooners, takes a break from the show after hurting his ankle.

A great Gleason story was told by TV talk host legend, Mike Douglas, in his captivating autobiography I’ll Be Right Back: Memories of TV’s Greatest Talk Show; Simon & Schuster (2000):

Douglas is referring to acting legend Anthony Quinn’s penchant for telling funny stories.

One of his best stories was about Requiem For A Heavyweight, with Anthony starring as the beleaguered fighter opposite Jackie Gleason’s streetwise manager. There was one scene where Anthony had to appear exhausted after a bout. He ran around the block several times before shooting began and returned to see Gleason relaxing in a chair, reading the paper, smoking a cigarette. Gleason looked up.

“Where ya been?”

Anthony was panting, dripping sweat.

“Running…getting into it… you know…”

He saw Gleason wasn’t impressed and asked him about his own methods.

“You don’t ever do anything to get ready for a scene?”

The Great One shrugged and flicked his ashes.

“That’s why they call it acting kid.”

Quinn won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor twice. One for Viva Zapata! (1952) and the other for Lust For Life (1956).

Gleason on the other hand, could supposedly look at a script once and have it down.  His Honeymooners co-star Audrey Meadows, said Gleason had a photographic memory.

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