Jackie Gleason Biography

jackie gleasonClaim to Fame: Actor, Comedian ("The Honeymooners")
DOB: February 26, 1916
Date of Death: June 24, 1987
Diabetes Type: Unknown

Herbert Walton Gleason was born on February 26, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. Abandoned by an alcoholic father, he was raised by his working mother, Mae, who gave him the nickname Jackie. Despite his mother's efforts to bring him up as a nice Catholic with a good education, Jackie managed to get into trouble. He dropped out of school at a very early age and spent most of his time as a pool hustler and boxer.

In spite of his troubled childhood, Jackie was determined to find work, and did. He began doing comedic performances at The Majestic and The Halsey Theatres in Brooklyn, and also at The Empire Burlesque in Newark at which he became house comic.

After turning nineteen, Jackie's mother Mae died. He packed up and moved to Manhattan where he married in 1936 to a young women named Genevieve. It was here that his career began to take off. He started to score roles on Broadway, make films, and play clubs by night. He also won a starring role in the television show "The Life of Riley", which ultimately led in 1951 to his own Saturday night show on CBS called "The Jackie Gleason Show". With his career reaching new heights, Jackie's personal life began to suffer. He divorced his wife Genevieve and would remarry two more times.

During the next three and a half decades, Jackie Gleason would record 43 albums, write the theme songs for his show, star in 17 films, receive an Oscar nomination, win a Tony award, and appear in almost 50 television specials. Jackie is best known for his role as Ralph Kramden on "The Honeymooners," but the half-hour comedy show actually ran for only one season, producing 39 episodes in all.

Jackie was plagued with health issues later in life. In 1978, he underwent quadruple coronary bypass surgery, and in 1986, he was diagnosed with diabetes. A year later, though, it was colon cancer that finally claimed the great actor and comedian.

Find more actors with diabetes.

Reviewed by dLife Staff 12/13.

Last Modified Date: January 16, 2014

All content on dLife.com is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Carey Potash
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