ATHENS, Ga. - It’s news that would make Jackie Gleason (news) shout out his trademark “And away we go!” A new “lost” episode of the classic 1950s TV comedy “The Honeymooners” has been uncovered in the Peabody Awards archive at the University of Georgia.
The episode, titled “Love Letter,” originally aired on Oct. 16, 1954, on “The Jackie Gleason Show,” said Ruta Abolins, director of the Peabody Awards Collection and Media Archives at UGA.
“It does not exist in another archive and is a unique
lost' episode inThe Honeymooners’ history,” Abolins said in a statement Thursday.
Gleason starred as Ralph Kramden, a blustery New York City bus driver. Audrey Meadows played his sharp-tongued wife, Alice. Art Carney was his goofy neighbor, Ed Norton, a sewer worker, and Joyce Randolph played Ed’s wife, Trixie.
Archivist Margaret Compton discovered the “Love Letter” episode during a preservation review of the archives’ kinescopes and videotapes. She said plans are being made by Gleason Enterprises to release the never-rebroadcast episode on home video.
“The Honeymooners” was introduced on Oct. 5, 1951, during Gleason’s first variety series, “Cavalcade of Stars,” broadcast live on the DuMont Television Network. From 1952 to 1955, “The Jackie Gleason Show” ran on CBS where the live sketches grew from 10 minutes to 30 minutes in length. “The Honeymooners” also ran as a CBS sitcom in the 1955-56 season, and “The Jackie Gleason Show” returned as a variety program in the 1956-57 season.
A re-performance of “Love Letter” aired during Gleason’s 1956-57 series, but the Peabody Awards archive holds the only known copy of the original sketch from the earlier variety show.
The episode deals with Kramden’s discovery of a love letter that he mistakenly believes is meant for his wife.
Some 70-odd “lost” episodes of “The Honeymooners” emerged from Gleason’s vault in the 1980s.
The Peabody Awards, considered among the most prestigious and selective prizes in electronic media, recognize excellence and meritorious work by radio and TV stations, networks, webcasters, producing organizations and individuals. Gleason won an individual Peabody in 1955.
The Awards Archive holds more than 40,000 titles, including radio programs dating from 1940 and television from 1948.