Filmed at CBS’ Studio 50 in New York, later used for “Toast of the Town” (1948), now known as “The Ed Sullivan Theater.”
Pert Kelton, the original Alice, left while the sketch was still part of “The Jackie Gleason Show” (1952) due to purported health problems (it was later revealed she had been blacklisted). Audrey Meadows was approached for suggestions about who could replace Kelton. After rattling off a list of actresses, none of whom were suitable for one reason or another, Meadows finally suggested herself. Jackie Gleason initially rejected her on the grounds that she was too young and pretty. Meadows, determined to get the part, had a photographer come to her house at 7:00 the next morning, and had pictures taken of herself without makeup, her hair pinned up with combs she’d slept on, and wearing a torn blouse, a skirt, and an apron. When Gleason saw the pictures he exclaimed happily, “That’s Alice!” and asked who it was. When told it was the same young actress he’d rejected the day before, he said, “Any dame with a sense of humor like that deserves the job. Hire her!”
The show was shot “as live” (filmed before an audience, edited and shown later). If you ever notice Jackie Gleason patting himself on the stomach, it was a sign that he had forgotten his line..
Audrey Meadows was the only cast member to receive residual payments for the show for her entire life; not even Jackie Gleason knew how she managed to arrange such a deal.
Jackie Gleason rarely liked to rehearse, as he feared it killed the spontaneity of his performance. Co-stars Art Carney, Audrey Meadows and Joyce Randolph eventually took to rehearsing without him, taking turns standing in for him in scenes where Ralph Kramden appeared.
According to Art Carney, the elaborate procedure Ed Norton would go through whenever he had to sign something was originally an ad-lib