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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Art Carney of TV’s ‘Honeymooners’ dead at 85

NEW YORK (REUTERS) — Actor Art Carney, best known as the awkward, endearing sidekick to Jackie Gleason in the 1950s television series “The Honeymooners,” has died at age 85, a Connecticut funeral home said Tuesday.

Carney, who lived in Westbrook, Conn., died Sunday after a long illness, according to a statement issued by the local Swan Funeral Homes Inc.

Carney had a long career in vaudeville, radio, television, Broadway, and Hollywood but is best remembered as Ed Norton, an “underground sanitation expert” who appeared clad in a trademark T-shirt, vest, and pork-pie hat on “The Honeymooners,” a classic of early live television that has enjoyed huge popularity in syndication.

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Carney’s cry of “Hey, Ralphie boy!” to co-star Gleason invariably meant a new misadventure or another get-rich-quick scheme gone awry. His good-natured quirkiness and physical agility made him the perfect complement to Gleason’s easily frustrated, easily angered Ralph Kramden.

Broadcast live, the show had remarkable mishaps. When Gleason once missed a cue to enter during a live broadcast, Carney looked inside the set refrigerator, pulled out an orange and for almost a full minute peeled it with humorous aplomb. The moment was remembered as a classic comedy ad-lib.

Carney won the 1974 best actor Oscar for his portrayal of an aging loner who travels cross-country with his cat in the film “Harry and Tonto.” He also won five Emmy awards.

Carney was born Nov. 4, 1918, in Mount Vernon, N.Y. He took a job as a jazz pianist after high school but ended up on stage impersonating such statesmen as Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill.

He moved on to freelancing on radio serials, mysteries, and dramas in the 1940s. Carney enlisted in the army and received a leg wound in France that gave him a slight limp.

In 1951, Carney met Gleason while appearing on the popular variety show “Cavalcade of Stars.” There the two paired up for skits that would spin off to become “The Honeymooners.”

Privately, Carney was a shy man who fought a long battle with depression and alcoholism.

“I’m a serious guy,” he once said. “I’m not ‘on’ all the time, you know, as far as being funny at home or at parties. I tend to be more of an introvert, I think, and I think my extrovert qualities come out in my work.”

“I enjoy doing comedy,” he said, “but I’m not a comedian … I’m an actor that’s done an awful lot of comedy.”

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