“One of these days…POW! Right in the kisser”. An empty threat from Ralph Kramden to his wife Alice. She invariably replied to this threat with “Ahhh, shut up”. Another of Ralph’s favorite phrases was “To the moon, Alice”.
The Honeymooners was a series based on a working class couple, the Kramdens, and their best friends, the Nortons. The two couples lived in run down apartments at 328 Chauncey Street in the Bensonhurst section in Brooklyn, New York.
Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) is a bus driver for the Gotham Bus Company. His wife Alice (Audrey Meadows) was a former secretary, now a housewife. Alice can be very sharp tongued with her husband. Edward Lillywhite Norton “Ed” (Art Carney) works for the New York Sewer Department. When he was discharged from the service Ed took typing courses but decided he would not be happy working inside. He preferred moving things along in the sewer system. Thelma “Trixie” Norton is Ed’s wife. The first actress to play Trixie was Elaine Stritch and she was portrayed as an ex burlesque dancer. She was later replaced by Joyce Randolph as Trixie. This Trixie appears much more wholesome, but is rather bossy toward her husband.
The layout of both apartments is identical. However, the Norton apartment is furnished much better than the Kramdens. Both Ralph and Ed are said to make the same salary, $62 per week. Ed
uses credit much more freely than Ralph. In fact, Ed at one time said he had nineteen charge accounts.
Ralph is always coming up with get rich schemes and involves Ed in his hair brained plots. Trixie and Alice are sensible women and try to point out the flaws in the guy’s schemes. Of course, Ed and Ralph don’t listen and do their own thing and it blows up in their faces. When Ralph becomes irritated with something Ed has said or done he will throw him out of the apartment.
Both men belong to the Raccoon Lodge. When they are called to an Executive Meeting that means it’s a poker game.
Before they rented their own apartment Ralph and Alice lived with her mother who has an even sharper tongue than Alice. She does not think Ralph provides as he should for her daughter and she lets him know about it.
The shows were filmed before a live audience, edited and then shown. Jackie Gleason did not like to rehearse feeling it made the performance lack spontaneity. During rehearsals the other three actors would stand in for Ralph when he was to appear in a scene. When a scene was being shot if Ralph was rubbing his stomach it meant he’d forgotten his lines.
The chemistry between the two couples was just right and this made the series fun to watch with lots of laughs.
“The Honeymooners” was later used as the idea for the animated series “The Flintstones”.