Jackie Gleason was known as the barrel-shaped "Great One" who won television fame and riches as a blustering bus driver in "The Honeymooners" and an Oscar nomination for his film portrayal of an aging pool shark in "The Hustler."
He had written, composed music for and starred in what some ardent admirers believed was one of the most underrated motion pictures of all time ("Gigot"); had portrayed a diverse series of characters on television including the outrageously obnoxious Kramden, the mutely pathetic "Poor Soul" and Sheriff Buford T. Justice in the "Smokey and the Bandit" series starring Burt Reynolds and an assortment of wrecked automobiles.
His albums of mood music, many adorned with original Salvador Dali paintings as covers, had sold in the millions.
He was a fat man who never worried about being fat, an extrovert who excelled at pantomime and a musical conductor and composer who couldn't read a note, yet wrote a theme for his television show that once was as familiar in America as the "Star Spangled Banner."
Gleason's later work may not have justified his title as "The Great One," a sobriquet reportedly attached to him by Orson Welles, but he was always the mischievous "Entertaining One," tilting at executive windmills or traveling the nation's rails in private cars stocked with booze and budding starlets.
|1961||Best Supporting Actor||The Hustler||Nomination|