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Gleason, starring Brad Garrett

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Gleason: The Jackie Gleason Story (2002) starring Brad Garrett
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Gleason: The Jackie Gleason Story  (2002) starring Brad Garrett

 Gleason  is a wonderfully done television biography of  Jackie Gleason, starring Brad Garrett, best known for his television sitcoms  Everybody Loves Raymond and Til Death.   I was absolutely flabbergasted by Brad Garrett’s performance.  Not only did he do a wonderful acting job, but he truly made the character of Jackie Gleason come to life.   Given his size, I would never have believed that he could carry off the role of the pudgy comedian Jackie Gleason.  I was totally wrong.

The movie itself shows Jackie Gleason warts and all, dealing with his personal issues — €”his father abandoning his family when Jackie was young, his unfaithfulness to his wife, his carousing nature — €”as well as his professional life, including the creation of the Jackie Gleason show and  The Honeymooners.   One of my favorite moments from the show is when Jackie Gleason is explaining how comedy works to his writers, as he’s developing the characters for  The Honeymooners.

Trivia for  Gleason

  • The same audience is used every time the audience is shown.
  • Brad Garrett, at a smidge over 6’8 — €, is about nine inches taller than Jackie Gleason was. To compensate, other actors who shared scenes with Garrett wore platform shoes that would make everyone seem proportionate.
  • Producer/star Brad Garrett and director Howard Deutch agreed to pay make-up artist Greg Cannom’s salary when the network balked at the size of his fee.
  • Brad Garrett and Howard Deutch paid Dave Boone to do an uncredited re-write of the entire script to get it in shape for shooting.
  • Paula Jean Hixson who plays Gleason’s mother is eight years younger than Brad Garrett in real life.
  • Jackie Gleason is shown being fired from Navy Blues (1941) in 1949 or 1950. In real life, the film premiered in 1941 and he was not fired. Also, Cavalcade of Stars (1949) was not his TV debut. He starred in the short-lived series  The Life of Riley  (1949).
  • The opening scene is established as being 1924. When Jackie and his father return from the theater, Herb Gleason offers Jackie a nickel with Monticello on the reverse side — €“ a Jefferson nickel. This design wasn’t minted until 1938.
  • Jackie Gleason is shown receiving a package of photos from his father who abandoned him as a child. In real life, Gleason never heard from his father again after he left the family.

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