Born Arthur William Matthew Carney on November 4th, 1918 in Mt. Vernon, New York, Art Carney won an Oscar in 1975 for his first starring movie role -- in 'Harry and Tonto' -- although he never had an acting lesson. Before serving in World War II, he had started off in the 1930s, as an entertainer at the local Elks Club, and performed locally as an impressionist and tap dancer. After graduating from high school he traveled for three years with Horace Heidt, who had a very popular orchestra and radio quiz show in the late 1930s. While with Heidt's group, he landed a bit part in his first movie, Pot o'Gold, which starred James Stewart and Paulette Goddard. He displayed a remarkable range of dramatic talents over the radio in the 1940s on daytime serials, mysteries, spot recordings, and children's shows, essentially in character and dialect parts. He did a serious political program called Report to the Nation, for which he impersonated the voices of prominent figures of the day, among them Churchill and Roosevelt. He also worked with Morey Amsterdam on a radio show that turned into a television show, and thereby, Art Carney entered television.
Although he was particularly well known from the early 1950s on as Ed Norton, he was also much in demand as a serious actor, appearing on Suspense, Studio One, Kraft Theatre, Playhouse 90, Climax!, and Best of Broadway. By the 1960s, he was appearing only infrequently on television. He mostly performed on Broadway ('The Odd Couple', 'The Rope Dancers', 'The Prisoners of Second Avenue', 'Take Her, She's Mine') and the movies ('A Guide for the Married Man', 'W.W. and the Dixie Dance Kings', 'Harry and Tonto', 'The Late Show') which brought new facets of Art Carney to the public.
Carney first became interested in The Honeymooners at the suggestion of writers Arne Rosen and Coleman Jacoby, who were then writing for Jackie Gleason on DuMont's Cavalcade of Stars. He joined the show in 1950 and continued with it until it left New York. He rejoined The Honeymooners for guest spots on 'The American Scene Magazine' in 1962, for several seasons beginning in 1966, and for three ABC specials in 1976, 1977, and 1978.
Carney has earned seven Emmy Awards, five of them for his memorable role as the lovable Ed Norton on The Honeymooners. His role in the 1984 telefilm Terrible Joe Moran won him an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Special.. His first lead role in a feature film (which was in Harry and Tonto), won him an Oscar. In October 2003, only a few weeks before he passed away, he was inducted in to the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences' Hall of Fame.
Art Carney passed away on November 9th, 2003 at the age of 85.