‘The Honeymooners’: The Legendary Movie Star Who Surprisingly Wanted to Appear on the TV Comedy

The cast of TV's 'The Honeymooners'
The cast of TV’s ‘The Honeymooners’ | John Springer Collection /CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The 1950s television comedy The Honeymooners starring Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Art Carney, and Joyce Randolph has been an enduring hit throughout the decades.

It’s hard not to be drawn to the basic story of a working-class couple trying to make ends meet along with their friends in mid-20th century Brooklyn, New York.

Among the show’s fans was a “leading man” of Hollywood who had hoped to appear on the show, but never got the chance.

‘The Honeymooners’ got its start in 1951

Joyce Randolph, left, with Art Carney as Trixie and Ed Norton
Joyce Randolph, left, with Art Carney as Trixie and Ed Norton |
John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

The Honeymooners began as a seed of an idea on a 1951 variety show called Cavalcade of Stars. Jackie Gleason was the host at that point and took that opportunity to introduce a sketch comedy about a married couple who, although they were constantly arguing, were crazy about each other.

That sketch of course became The Honeymooners.

Joyce Randolph in a 1999 conversation with the Archive of American Television discussed her role as Trixie Norton.

“Trixie was married to a sewer worker and I guess she considered herself a little better than the character of Ed Norton,” she said. “But she was just a housewife – she and Alice didn’t have jobs. They stayed home all the time, which was kind of amazing, but the husbands didn’t want them to work.”

The show was a ratings success but Gleason ended it early

Art Carney, left, and Jackie Gleason
Art Carney, left, and Jackie Gleason | John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

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Although the show did more than well in the ratings, Gleason made the decision to end it after just one season and 39 episodes. He explained his reasoning to Johnny Carson in 1996.

“We were running out of ideas,” Gleason told the late-night host. “I liked The Honeymooners and I liked doing them, and I didn’t want to denigrate them by forcing scenes that didn’t mean anything.

“So I wanted to quit, but they didn’t believe me. They thought I had another job someplace, but I didn’t. I’m glad I did stop them, because what we had done was good and if we had gone any further, we might have spoiled it.”

Cary Grant loved the show and wanted to be on it

One of the show’s biggest fans was Cary Grant and he made it clear to Audrey Meadows that he would love to have the chance to guest star.

At the time that The Honeymooners was on the air, Grant was nearing the end of his movie career. In 1955, he was filming Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief with co-star Grace Kelly.

Meadows in her 1994 memoir Love, Alice elaborated on Grant’s request, which astonished her.

Promotional poster for 'That Touch Of Mink'
Promotional poster for ‘That Touch Of Mink’ | LMPC via Getty Images

“I could be Ed Norton’s assistant in the sewer,” Meadows recalled Grant’s suggestion. She replied that “those sewer workers are exposed to all those rats and all that filth!”

Grant didn’t disappoint, with a response delivered with his trademark elegance. “I’ve worked in Hollywood for years. I’ve seen worse filth and worked with bigger rats.”

While Cary Grant’s appearance on The Honeymooners sadly never materialized, he did star with the Alice Kramden actor in the 1962 film That Touch of Mink.