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The Classic Sitcoms Guide to...
The Honeymooners
The Classic 39




SEASON ONE: 1955-56
CREDITS
EMMY AWARDS

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"The Honeymooners" on Video or DVD

THE 1955-56 SEASON

Year-End Rating: 30.2 (19th place)

Jack Philbin was executive producer for The Honeymooners' single, bountiful season as a half-hour situation comedy, and all thirty-nine were produced by Jack Hurdle. Three of Gleason's veteran writing teams traded off scripting chores throughout the season--Marvin Marx and Walter Stone, A.J. Russell and Herbert Finn, and Leonard Stern and Sydney Zelinka. Frank Satenstein was the director, and the entire production was supervised by Jackie Gleason.


1 TV or Not TV  First Aired: October 1, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein

The wonders of television disrupt life in the Kramden household when Ed and Ralph share custody of a brand-new TV set.

Marvin Marx and Walter Stone scripted more classic Honeymooners dialogue than any other two men on Earth. They first teamed up in the writers' pool on Gleason's Cavalcade of Stars and soon found themselves resident scribes of the chronicles of Kramden and Norton--a task to which they were ideally suited, according to the series's executive producer. "Marx and Walter Stone were Ralph and Ed's counterparts," observed Jack Philbin, "Marx thought like Ralph, Stone thought like Norton."


2 Funny Money  First Aired: October 8, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Boris Aplon, Frank Marth, Eddie Hanley, Ethel Owen, Vic Rendina, Jack Davis

There's no extravagance too grand for the Kramdens after Ralph discovers a satchel filled with $50,000--all of it counterfeit.


3 The Golfer  First Aired: October 15, 1955
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Frank Marth, John Griggs, John Gibson, George Petrie, Jack Davis

To curry favor with his boss, Ralph brags about his skill on the green--a boast the non-golfer lives to regret when Mr. Harper invites him to play that weekend.


4 A Woman's Work Is Never Done  First Aired: October 22, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Betty Garde, Frank Marth

Tired of Ralph's endless domestic complaints, Alice takes a job and leaves a maid to take care of the housework.


5 A Matter of Life and Death  First Aired: October 29, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: George Petrie, Les Damon

Convinced that he's only got six months to live, Ralph sells his deathbed story to a weekly magazine.

Ralph is worried when he contracts the fictitious malady arterial monochromia, but he'd already survived cerebral monochromia in an earlier Honeymooners variety show sketch, a vignette that would serve as the inspiration for this script. As authors Donna McCrohan and Peter Crescenti reveal in The Honeymooners Lost Episodes, Gleason's writers thought nothing of filching whole sequences--and sometimes entire plots--from scenes they'd written in the early fifties. At least two other episodes from the classic 1955-56 season, "The Loudspeaker" and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," were virtual remakes of earlier sketches that eventually reappeared when many of the "lost episodes" resurfaced--to the delight of Honeymooners fans everywhere--in early 1985.


6 The Sleepwalker  First Aired: November 5, 1955
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: George Petrie

Norton's sleepwalking wreaks havoc with Ralph's well-ordered routine after Trixie appoints him caretaker for her husband's somnambulant strolls.


7 Better Living Through TV  First Aired: November 12, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Eddie Hanley

Ralph is the tongue-tied "chef-of-the-future" in an ill-fated late-night TV commercial that he and Norton concoct to sell 2000 Happy Housewife Helpers.

One of the funniest episodes in a very funny season. Norton and Kramden's chefs of the past and future create even greater pandemonium than Lucy did with her classic Vitameatavegamin pitch. Here the boys practically topple an entire TV studio in their efforts to demonstrate the superior way to "core a apple."


8 Pal O'Mine  First Aired: November 19, 1955
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: John Seymour, Abbie Lewis, Ned Glass

Ralph's feelings are bruised when Ed buys a friendship ring for one of his pals on the sewer crew.

Veteran comedy scribes Stern and Zelinka wrote their first "Honeymooners" sketch for The Jackie Gleason Show in 1954. Leonard Stern continued to create classic television comedy as a writer for The Phil Silvers Show and later as creator of the influential 1967 sitcom He and She.


9 Brother Ralph  First Aired: November 26, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein

Ralph's insecurity gets the better of him after Alice lands a job with a handsome employer, who thinks she's a single girl.

The tempest is short-lived, and by the fade-out, Ralph once again intones, "Baby, you're the greatest," and envelops Alice in an embrace capable of propelling the show's broad slapstick into the realm of divine romantic comedy. "That kiss was very important," Gleason told interviewer Bill Zehme. "Without it, people would have hated The Honeymooners. They would have thought, 'Jesus, it's just arguing all the time.'"


10 Hello, Mom  First Aired: December 3, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein

Ralph seeks sanctuary with the Nortons when he and Alice have a major row over an impending visit from her mother.


11 The Deciding Vote  First Aired: December 10, 1955
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: George Petrie, John Gibson

Ralph regrets his most recent outburst at Norton when his pal suddenly holds the deciding vote in an important election at the Raccoon Lodge.


12 Something Fishy  First Aired: December 17, 1955
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Dick Bernie, Joseph Ruskin, Sammy Birch, Eddie Hanley, John Gibson

Ralph and Ed easily persuade the lodge brothers to ban their wives from the Raccoons' annual fishing trip--now all they have to do is convince Trixie and Alice.


13 'Twas the Night Before Christmas  First Aired: December 24, 1955
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Anne Seymour

Ralph trades in his bowling ball to buy Alice's Christmas gift in this modern revamp of O. Henry's "Gift of the Magi."

The episode ends with a priceless moment that preserves forever the spontaneity of the show's theatrical origins, when Gleason--obviously buoyed by holiday cheer--stops the final curtain to introduce the cast in an impromptu curtain call.


14 The Man From Space  First Aired: December 31, 1955
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Eddie Hanley, Vic Rendina

Hoping to win a $50 prize, Ralph attends the annual Raccoon Lodge costume ball dressed as a man from space.


15 A Matter of Record  First Aired: January 7, 1956
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Ralph Robertson, Ethel Owen

Ralph is at loose ends when Alice moves in with her mother after his latest outburst, until Norton convinces him to transcribe his apology onto a record.


16 Oh, My Aching Back  First Aired: January 14, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: George Petrie, Frank Marth

Ralph goes bowling on the eve of his company physical--against Alice's warning--and returns home with a sore sacroiliac.


17 The Baby-Sitter  First Aired: January 21, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Vic Rendina, Frank Marth, Sid Raymond

When Alice takes on baby-sitting jobs to pay for the phone she's secretly installed, Ralph suspects she's having an affair.

Telephones and children were both taboo in the Kramdens' cold-water walk-up. The gross misunderstandings that fueled many Honeymooners plots could too easily have been cleared up with a simple phone call, and who wanted that? Gleason and his writers were also aware that the show's stringent production demands practically mandated that the Kramden remain childless. "Kids can't time jokes or lines or dialogue," Gleason explained. "To do a live show with them, you'd be dead. So I decreed it--no kids."


18 The $99,000 Answer  First Aired: January 28, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Jay Jackson, Rita Colton, Ethel Owen, Bill Zuckert, Zamah Cunningham, Jack Davis

Ralph is a man obsessed when he lands a chance to break the bank on a big-money quiz show.


19 Ralph Kramden, Inc.  First Aired: February 4, 1956
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: John Seymour

Con-man Ralph sells Ed a percentage of his entire future earnings, but has second thoughts after an eccentric old woman bequeaths him a fortune in her will.


20 Young at Heart  First Aired: February 11, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Ronnie Burns

Inspired by a pair of teenagers, the Kramdens and Nortons decide to recapture their lost youth at a skating rink.

The writers rarely passed an opportunity to exact a sight gag from Gleason's graceful girth, whether it meant dressing him up as a man from space for a costume ball or, as in this episode, setting him loose at a skating rink to make a spectacle of himself on wheels.

Ronnie Burns, George and Gracie's son, took a break from The Burns and Allen Show to make a guest appearance in this episode.


21 A Dog's Life  First Aired: February 18, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: George Petrie, John Griggs, Eddie Hanley, Frank Marth, Les Damon

Only after Ralph convinces his boss to invest in his new snack-food sensation does he discover that Kram-Mar's Delicious Mystery Appetizer is dog food.


22 Here Comes the Bride  First Aired: February 25, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: John Gibson, Treva Frazee

Ralph ruins his sister-in-law's wedding night when he convinces her mild-mannered groom to assume his rightful place as lord of the manor.


23 Momma Loves a Mambo  First Aired: March 3, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Charles Korvin, Louis Sorin, Zamah Cunningham

The husbands are jealous when a Latin lover moves into the building and sweeps the wives off their feet with suave manners and free mambo lessons.


24 Please Leave the Premises  First Aired: March 10, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Luis Van Rooten

The Kramdens are evicted after Ralph stubbornly refuses to pay a five-dollar rent increase.


25 Pardon My Glove  First Aired: March 17, 1956
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Alexander Clark

Ralph suspects hanky-panky when Alice postpones his surprise birthday party to arrange a clandestine meeting with a genteel interior decorator.


26 Young Man With a Horn  First Aired: March 24, 1956
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Charles Eggleston, Nel Harrison

A chance meeting with a self-made millionaire inspires Ralph to embark on a rigorous self-improvement program.


27 Head of the House  First Aired: March 31, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Frank Marth, Dick Bernie

Ralph thinks he's king of his castle, but it's Alice who lays down the law when the local paper prints his inflammatory views on a woman's place in the home.


28 The Worry Wart  First Aired: April 7, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Warren Parker

A summons from the IRS has Ralph imagining the worst.


29 Trapped  First Aired: April 14, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Frank Marth, Larry Barton, Ken Lynch, Ralph Robertson, Sammy Birch, George Petrie, Eddie Hanley

A pair of thugs holds Ed and the Kramdens hostage after Ralph witnesses a robbery outside Harry's pool hall.


30 The Loudspeaker  First Aired: April 21, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Jock MacGregor

Ralph is so sure that he's about to be named Raccoon of the Year that he drives Alice mad rehearsing his acceptance speech.


31 Onstage  First Aired: April 28, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: George Neise, Alexander Clark, George Petrie

Ralph is delighted to be cast as the lead in the Lodge's annual fund-raiser, until he finds out that Norton is slated to appear as his co-star.


32 Opportunity Knocks, But  First Aired: May 5, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: John Griggs, George Petrie

Ralph attempts to schmooze his boss over a game of pool, but it's Norton who scores all the points.


33 Unconventional Behavior  First Aired: May 12, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Star: Humphrey Davis

A long train ride gets even longer after Norton accidentally handcuffs himself to Ralph during their trip to the Raccoon Convention in Minneapolis.

This episode is fondly remembered for the classic handcuff routine, but in The Official Honeymooners Treasury, authors Peter Crescenti and Bob Columbe revealed that the entire bit was a last-minute improvisation devised to fill time after another gag was cut at dress rehearsal. "Jackie and Art played this incredible routine of trying to sleep in the upper and lower berths with their hands locked together in these handcuffs," reports actor Humphrey Davis. "And five minutes was used up just like that, with absolutely incredible comic invention."


34 The Safety Award  First Aired: May 19, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Eddie Hanley, Frank Marth, George Petrie, Les Damon

Ralph has his first traffic accident--on the way to accept an award for being the safest bus driver in the city.


35 Mind Your Own Business  First Aired: May 26, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein

Norton follows Ralph's advice to gain a promotion at work, and soon finds himself selling irons door-to-door.


36 Alice and the Blonde  First Aired: June 2, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Freda Larsen, Frank Behrens

Alice and Trixie are abandoned by their husbands at a dinner party while Ed and Ralph heap lavish attention on a vapid blonde.


37 Bensonhurst Bomber  First Aired: September 8, 1956
Writers: Marvin Marx, Walter Stone
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Leslie Barrett, George Mathews

After Ralph is challenged to a boxing match by a local tough, he and Ed devise a scheme to force the bus driver's flinty opponent to back down.


38 Dial J for Janitor  First Aired: September 15, 1956
Writers: A.J. Russell, Herbert Finn
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Luis Van Rooten, Zamah Cunningham

With dreams of free rent, a salary--and tips!--Ralph signs on as building superintendent at 328 Chauncey Street.


39 A Man's Pride  First Aired: September 22, 1956
Writers: Leonard Stern, Sydney Zelinka
Director:Frank Satenstein
Guest Stars: Dick Bernie, Vic Rendina

Ralph brags about his success to one of Alice's old suitors and then has to make good on his boast when the man unexpectedly arrives at the garage.

The series came to an abrupt end with this episode.

After Gleason voluntarily retired the half-hour Honeymooners at the end of the 1955-56 season, the Kramdens and Nortons continued to make occasional appearances on his variety show until it, too, was finally canceled in 1970--an incidental casualty in the CBS housecleaning that cleared the way for the network's bold new comedies, including a new show called All in the Family.

Within a few months, Ralph's traditional Saturday-night spot would be occupied by another bellicose, blue-collar Everyman. He was a little older than Ralph, but they shared similar tastes in interior decoration. Like the diligent bus driver, Archie Bunker worked hard at his job--though he was quick to spot any scheme that might net him a quick profit. And like Ralph, he was utterly dependent on the patience and wisdom of his long-suffering wife--though he never understood just how much.

They created quite a stir, this new family on the block. They were often loud, usually abrasive, and really very much in love. We were certain we'd never met anyone quite like Archie and Edith Bunker.

And yet, in so many ways, we'd known them all along.

HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map

HomeClassic Sitcoms BookstoreAbout Vince WaldronContact UsOther ChannelsImportant Legal StuffComing Soon to This SiteSite Map