February 26, 1916

On this day in 1916, comedian and actor Jackie Gleason was born in Brooklyn, NY to Mae and Herb Gleason, Irish immigrants from Farranree, Co. Cork. After a rough start, with his father abandoning the family when Gleason was 9 and his mother’s death when he was 19, Gleason found early success, going from occasional MC, to comedian, to paid actor by age 24. He is best remembered for his role as Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners, much of which was inspired by his own Brooklyn upbringing. In addition, he starred in the films The Hustler, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Skidoo, and the Smokey and the Bandit series, and had the lead role in the hit musical Take Me Along. Gleason died in 1987.

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