They didn't call Jackie Gleason "The Great One" for nothing. A star of stage, screen and television, the portly performer was best known for appearing as Ralph Kramden for 39 episodes of The Honeymooners, but his career was long and varied -- and included several roles that proved he was a great dramatic actor and not just a comedian.
The comic's stage persona was larger than life, but the real Gleason was even bigger still -- a walking party who never met a drink he didn't like or a dollar he couldn't spend. A poor kid from the streets of New York, he was the kind of rags-to-riches story we love here in America. He worked hard, hustled, and used his talents to build a legacy most actors can only dream of.
Back in 1984, 60 Minutes caught up with the actor. Reporter Morley Safer sat down for an extended chat with Gleason and its every bit as entertaining as you'd probably expect. Gleason recounts his first time on stage (a disaster), working on television, whether or not he thinks he'll go to Heaven when he dies, and he finds time to hustle Safer in a game of billiards. And while this isn't exactly a hard-hitting Mike Wallace 60 Minutes piece, Safer does ask a few tough questions -- notably one about Gleason's penchant for drinking. By the time this nearly 20 minute long clip ends, you're sure to find yourself missing this icon, and ready to pop in a copy of The Hustler.
Check out all three installments of the interview after the jump. In the immortal words of Gleason, "And away we go!"
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