Jackie Gleason and Art Carney: When the honeymoon ended

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Unless you're a Hollywood agent, then it can mean months of press statements about your client's contract ending. That's just sorrow, nothing sweet about it at all.

All good things must come to an end, and in 1957, one of those good things was The Honeymooners. After reaching what was then the peak of TV culture, Jackie Gleason was ready for a change. In '56, The Honeymooners shifted from its former hour-long format, giving up its "live" presentation and shortening each episode to one half-hour. In doing so, the show slipped from the top, losing out that number one spot to crooner Perry Como's variety show. Now, in 1957, at a crossroads, Gleason chose to forge ahead on a path of his own. He'd sever his ties, professionally, with former co-star Art Carney, to plot his showbiz future.

The following was all relayed to the Associated Press by Art Carney's personal manager, William McCaffrey, in 1957.

"Gleason has other plans for next year and they don't include Carney. That's to Carney's liking, too. We think he's ready to fly on his own."

The parting, McCaffrey stressed, was amicable, leaving the door open for future Honeymooners reunions.

"Our contract with Gleason ends in June. I don't presume to speak for Jackie or comment on what he's going to do. Art and I are very friendly with Jackie. Art owes a great deal to him.

"But my concern is Art. He has had a most successful engagement with Jackie and now Art and Jackie are going their separate ways."

The parting, like the pairing, was fruitful. Each man was able to create the conditions for his individual success. By the time of The Honeymooners reunion specials in the 1970s, both had expanded their profiles within Hollywood. Gleason had a prominent role in Smokey and the Bandit, and Carney won an Academy Award for his role in Harry and Tonto.

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