Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine

CBS (ended 1966)



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Jackie Gleason and His American Scene Magazine

Show Summary

The Great One returns to his forte, the comedy/variety show, with this splashy series.
After the show's introduction, provided by a bevy of gorgeous models, The June Taylor Dancers performed an opening production number, leading to Jackie's big entrance. During his monologue, he would often take a sip of supposedly spiked coffee and bulge his eyes, declaring "Mmmmmmm. How sweet it is!" or something to indicate how strong the coffee was. Often the show's stiff bandleader, Sammy Spear, was the subject of one of Jackie's jokes.
A regular character in this series was Jackie as Joe the Bartender. While tending bar, he would bring out Crazy Guggenheim (Frank Fontaine) who could be described as Gomer Pyle's stranger, drunk brother. After delivering a few jokes in a goofy voice, he would be encouraged to sing; Fontaine had a smooth, warm singing voice.
Another recurring sketch featured AliceGhostley as Agnes, with Jackie as Arthur, playing a shy couple who lived in a New York City tenement and dated 14 years.
After two seasons from NYC, Jackie moved himself and the show to Miami Beach, bringing about the famous intro ("From the sun and fun capitol of the world, Miami Beach...") and Jackie's closing declaration that Miami Beach audiences are the greatest audiences in the world!
The fourth season brought a precipitous drop in ratings with the American Scene often coming in behind NBC's Flipper and I Dream of Jeannie. Critics complained that the show had become stale, so the Jackie began tinkering with the format. Musical-comedy extravaganzas began to be featured, with the best being the highly praised and rated 1/8/1966 Honeymooners reunion with Art Carney and Audrey Meadows.
Tired of the American Scene format and believing Carney and Meadows were unavailable for more Kramden/Norton adventures, Jackie announced in late January that he would not return in the fall. His surprise retirement was short-lived when, a few weeks later, he was able to sign Art Carney to return for most episodes the next season, making possible the famous "Color Honeymooners" musical-comedy hours.
The announcer for the series was Johnny Olson, whom Gleason would fly down to Miami Beach each week because Jackie considered him the best at audience warm-up in the business.moreless
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