‘The Honeymooners’: Jackie Gleason Left Parties Early to Pray

Jackie Gleason was a television and movie star. However, the former star of The Honeymooners was also a religious man. It was revealed that he would sometimes leave parties early so he could say a prayer.

Religion was important to Jackie Gleason

Jackie Gleason and friends | Bettmann / Contributor/Getty Images
Jackie Gleason and friends | Bettmann / Contributor/Getty Images

Religion played a role in Gleason’s life. In the book The Golden Ham: A Candid Biography of Jackie Gleason, author Jim Bishop says the actor grew up Roman Catholic. Bishop says his upbringing followed him into his adult years and his career as an actor. Gleason didn’t attend Mass often, but he reportedly feared the consequences of not attending.

Bishop went on to say that Gleason loved God, but he also feared Him. Throughout his life, he continued to have faith in God and the church.

Jackie Gleason left parties early to pray

The Honeymooners | John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
The Honeymooners | John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

Gleason’s faith was top of mind even when he was at a party. Bishop says he would leave early so he could spend time in prayer. He would “drop to his knees” and have a conversation with his Creator.

The author says one day Gleason asked God for a favor during his prayer time. He reportedly told God that if he granted this favor, he would attend Mass every day for the next two years as a way to thank Him.

Bishop says Gleason’s prayer was answered, and he made good on his promise to attend Mass every day for two years. According to Bishop, Gleason almost “wrecked his health” for the next two years. Since he performed comedy at a night club, he didn’t get to bed until about 5 o’clock in the morning. He would wake up at 7:30 in the morning so he could attend Mass at 8.

Jackie Gleason’s greatest fear

Why did Gleason stop partying to pray? Why was it so important for him to attend Mass after he made a promise to God? Bishop says Gleason was partly motivated by fear.

When a reporter asked Gleason what his biggest fear is, he replied that he was afraid of not getting into Heaven. This influenced his decision to continue praying and attending Mass whenever he could. Bishop says he would attend St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the afternoon service or stop by to pray.

Gleason often purchased medallions with the image of St. Genesius, the patron saint of actors. He would also purchase the medallion for his actor friends. According to Bishop, Gleason believed Genesius protected actors.

Bishop described Gleason as “a questioner” and not a “blind believer.” The actor spent time studying as many religions as he could. He finally decided to follow the religion of his parents and practice Catholicism.

Jackie Gleason reportedly struggled with avoiding sin

Although Gleason was a Catholic, Bishop says he struggled with staying away from “an addiction to such sins as gluttony, lust, and blasphemy.” He says Gleason believed sinners would be punished, so he was fearful of doing the wrong thing.

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