ART CARNEY, R.I.P.

WaPo reports the passing of another Hollywood legend:

Art Carney, who played Jackie Gleason’s sewer worker pal Ed Norton in the TV classic “The Honeymooners” and went on to win the 1974 Oscar for best actor in “Harry and Tonto,” has died at 85.

Carney died in Chester, Conn., on Sunday and was buried on Tuesday after a small, private funeral. He had been ill for some time.

The comic actor would be forever identified as Norton, Ralph Kramden’s bowling buddy and not-too-bright upstairs neighbor on “The Honeymooners.” The sitcom appeared in various forms from 1951 to 1956 and was revived briefly in 1971. The shows can still be seen on cable.

With his turned-up porkpie hat and unbuttoned vest over a white T-shirt, Carney’s Ed Norton with his exuberant “Hey, Ralphie boy!” became an ideal foil for Gleason’s blustery, bullying Kramden. Carney won three Emmys for his role and his first taste of fame.

“The first time I saw the guy act,” Gleason once said, “I knew I would have to work twice as hard for my laughs. He was funny as hell.”

Oddly, as often happens with older stars, I thought I remembered him dying some time ago.

For whatever reason, I never really liked the “Honeymooners,” as critically acclaimed as the show was, even though I thought all the actors played their roles superbly. The show never had the warmth of the great television comedies, like “The Andy Griffith Show.”

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Popular Culture, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. melvin toast says:

    Probably because the honeymooners is in New York and you’re from Alabama. At least Mayberry is in the South.

  2. Greyhawk says:

    I’m with you. The Mrs and I both thought he’d already passed on. And even though the Mrs is too young I enjoyed the Honeymooners but preferred Mayberry. (And I’m from the midwest.)

    Art Carney was great! Another American icon gone. So long, Norton.

  3. James Joyner says:

    I dunno, MT. I liked Seinfeld, for example. Or, to stay with the period, “I Love Lucy” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” (just a smidge later) both of which were set in New York. There never seemed to be any chemistry between the Cramdens, and Ralph was just such a loser.

  4. melvin toast says:

    The Ralph is a loser thing is definitely a love it or leave it thing.

  5. Tom says:

    Melvin is correct on that. I grew up in NY and thought the honeymooners were great, and could not understand the “Andy Griffith Show.” Then moved South and after 14 years the honeymooners grates on my nerves and Andy sooths my soul.

  6. James Joyner says:

    The Griffith Show is simply the finest television program of any genre ever produced. I always have five episodes in the TiVo ready in case of emergency.