Audrey Meadows

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Audrey Meadows
Audrey Meadows 1959.JPG
Meadows in 1959
Born Audrey Cotter
(1922-02-08)February 8, 1922
New York City, New York, U.S.
Died February 3, 1996(1996-02-03) (aged 73)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Other names Audrey Six
Occupation Actress, banker, memoirist
Years active 1951–1995
Known for The Honeymooners
Too Close for Comfort
Spouse(s) Randolph Rouse
(m. 1956; div. 1958)

Robert Six
(m. 1961; d. 1986)
Relatives Jayne Meadows (sister)
Website www.audreymeadows.com

Audrey Meadows (born Audrey Cotter, February 8, 1922 – February 3, 1996) was an American actress best known for her role as the deadpan housewife Alice Kramden on the 1950s American television comedy The Honeymooners.

Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, and Audrey Meadows in The Honeymooners.

Early life[edit]

Meadows was born Audrey Cotter in New York City[1] in 1922, the youngest of four siblings. There is considerable debate and confusion concerning her year of birth and place of birth. Some biographies state that she was born in 1922 in New York City. Other biographies place her birth in 1926 in WuChang, China.[2][3] Her parents, the Rev. Francis James Meadows Cotter and his wife, the former Ida Miller Taylor, had been Episcopal missionaries in Wuchang, Hubei, China, where her three elder siblings were born. The family returned to live in New York in 1921. Her older sister was actress Jayne Meadows. She attended high school at the Barrington School for Girls in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Career[edit]

After high school, she sang in the Broadway musical Top Banana before becoming a regular on television in The Bob and Ray Show. She was then hired to play Alice on The Jackie Gleason Show after the actress who originated the role, Pert Kelton, was forced to leave the show due to blacklisting, although the official reason given was that Kelton was suffering from a health problem. When The Honeymooners became a half-hour situation comedy on CBS, Meadows continued in the role. She then returned to play Alice after a long hiatus, when Gleason produced occasional Honeymooners specials in the 1970s. Meadows had auditioned for Gleason and was initially turned down for being too chic and pretty to play Alice. Realizing that she needed to change her appearance, Meadows the next day submitted a photo of herself, one in which she looked much plainer. She then won the role of Alice. The character of Alice became more associated with Meadows than with the others who played her, and she reprised her role as Alice on other shows as well, both in a man-on-the-street interview for The Steve Allen Show (Steve Allen was her brother-in-law) and in a parody sketch on The Jack Benny Program.[citation needed]

Meadows was the only member of the Honeymooners cast to earn residuals after the "Classic 39" episodes of the show from 1955 to 1956 started airing in reruns. Her brother Edward, a lawyer, had inserted a clause into her original contract whereby she would be paid if the shows were rebroadcast, thus earning her millions of dollars.[4] However, Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton, did receive royalty payments when the "lost" Honeymooners episodes from the variety shows were later released.[5]

Career outside The Honeymooners[edit]

She appeared in a 1960 episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, entitled "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat", one of the 17 episodes in the 10-year series directed by Hitchcock himself, and a rare light-hearted one.[6]

She appeared in feature films, appeared on Dean Martin's television variety shows and celebrity roasts, she appeared on an episode of Wagon Train in the episodes title role of Nancy Palmer and years later returned to situation comedy in the 1980s playing Ted Knight's mother-in-law on Too Close for Comfort (1982–85).[6]

She guest-starred on The Red Skelton Show, made an appearance in an episode of Murder, She Wrote ("If the Frame Fits"), and made an appearance in an episode of The Simpsons ("Old Money"), wherein she voiced the role of Bea Simmons, Grampa Simpson's girlfriend. Her last work was an appearance on Dave's World, in which she played the mother of Kenny (Shadoe Stevens).[6]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, she married a wealthy real estate man named Randolph Rouse.[7] On August 24, 1961, Meadows married her second husband, Robert F. Six, president of Continental Airlines, in Honolulu, Hawaii. He died on October 6, 1986.[8]

Meadows was a staunch Republican, who was quoted as saying, "I've always voted Republican because America is exactly that, a republic."[9]

Banking and marketing career[edit]

Meadows served as director of the First National Bank of Denver for 11 years, the first woman to hold this position. For twenty years, from 1961 to 1981, she was an advisory director of Continental Airlines, where she was actively involved in marketing programs that included the designs of flight attendant and customer service agent uniforms, aircraft interiors, and Continental's exclusive "President's Club" airport club lounges.[8]

Memoirs[edit]

In October 1994, Meadows published her memoirs, Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner.[10]

Illness and death[edit]

In 1995 Meadows was diagnosed with lung cancer and given a year to live. She declined all but palliative treatment. She died on February 3, 1996, five days shy of her 74th birthday, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after slipping into a coma. She was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, next to her second husband.[11]

Legacy[edit]

Meadows was portrayed by Kristen Dalton in Gleason, a 2002 television biopic about the life of her Honeymooners co-star Jackie Gleason.[12]

Filmography[edit]

Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1950 The Baron of Arizona Townswoman in Court Scene Uncredited
1951 The Amazing Mr. Malone Episode: "Blood Is Thicker Than Water"
1951–52 Bob & Ray Regular
1952 Lux Video Theatre The Singer Episode: "Ceylon Treasure"
1952 Pulitzer Prize Playhouse Lady Mary Episode: "Monsieur Beaucaire"
1952–57 The Jackie Gleason Show Alice Kramden 113 episodes
1953 Man Against Crime Episode: "The Midnight Express"
1955–56 The Honeymooners Alice Kramden 39 episodes
1959 The United States Steel Hour Episodes: "Holiday on Wheels", "Marriage... Handle with Care"
1960–71 The Red Skelton Hour Various Characters 11 episodes
1960 Play of the Week Nell Valentine Episode: "The Grand Tour"
1960 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Mrs. Bixby Episode: "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat"
1961 Wagon Train Nancy Palmer Episode: "The Nancy Palmer Story"
1961 Checkmate Althea Todd Episode: "One for the Book"
1961 General Electric Theater Connie Marlowe Episode: "Sis Bowls 'Em Over"
1962 The DuPont Show of the Week Constance Episode: "The Action in New Orleans"
1962 That Touch of Mink Connie Emerson
1962 Sam Benedict Dr. Carrie Morton Episode: "Life Is a Lie, Love Is a Cheat"
1963 Take Her, She's Mine Anne Michaelson
1965 Please Don't Eat the Daisies Kitty Clair Episode: "The Big Brass Blonde"
1965 Invisible Diplomats Kelly Smith Short film
1966 Jackie Gleason: American Scene Magazine Alice Kramden Episode: "The Honeymooners: The Adoption"
1966 Clown Alley Washerwoman Clown TV movie
1967 Rosie! Mildred Deever
1972 Love, American Style Eve / Harriet / Mom Segment: "Love and Dear Old Mom and Dad"
1974 The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast Martha Washington Episode: "Celebrity Roast: George Washington"
1976 The Honeymooners Second Honeymoon Alice Kramden TV special
1977 The Honeymooners Christmas Special Alice Kramden / Mother Cratchit TV special
1978 The Honeymooners Valentine Special Alice Kramden TV special
1978 The Love Boat Gladys Watkins Episode: "Taking Sides/Going by the Book/A Friendly Little Game"
1978 Starsky & Hutch Hilda Zuckerman Episode: "Dandruff"
1978 The Second Honeymooners Christmas Special Alice Kramden TV special
1980 The Love Boat Mrs. Elliott Episode: "Another Time, Another Place/Doctor Who/Gopher's Engagement"
1981 Lily: Sold Out! Polly Jo TV special
1982 Diff'rent Strokes Mrs. Martinson Episode: "The Squatter"
1982–86 Too Close for Comfort Iris Martin 23 episodes
1984 The Love Boat Helen Williams Episode: "A Rose is Not a Rose/Novelties/Too Rich and Too Thin"
1985 Hotel Amelia Chelton Episode: "Pathways"
1986 Murder, She Wrote Mildred Tilley Episode: "If the Frame Fits"
1986 Life with Lucy Audrey (Lucy's sister) Episode: "Mother of the Bride"
1988 CBS Summer Playhouse Aunt Lunar Episode: "The Johnsons Are Home"
1989 Nightingales Mrs. Mandel Episode: "Episode #1.4"
1990 Red Pepper Ina TV movie
1990–91 Uncle Buck Maggie Hogoboom 16 episodes
1991 The Simpsons Bea Simmons (voice) Episode: "Old Money"
1991 Hi Honey, I'm Home! Alice Kramden Episode: "Fur Flies"
1992 Davis Rules Gunny's Ex-Wife Episode: "Gunny's Ex"
1993 Sisters Ada Benbow Episode: "A Kick in the Caboose"
1994 Burke's Law Georgia Stark Episode: "Who Killed Alexander the Great?"
1994 Empty Nest Margaret Randall Episode: "The Devil and Dr. Weston"
1995 Dave's World Ruby Episodes: "The Mommies", "Working Stiffs"

References[edit]

  1. ^ Audrey Cotter was born in New York City in 1922, not in China as has been commonly stated. A 1921 passenger list shows the family entering the United States from China via Vancouver (S.S. Empress of Russia arriving at Vancouver from Shanghai, July 10, 1921). A 1927 passenger list shows Audrey's birthplace as New York (S.S. Olympic, arriving at New York from Southampton, May 3, 1927). The 1930 U.S. census, listing the family in Providence, Rhode Island, also shows Audrey's birthplace as New York City and her age as 8 years old in April 1930, which also confirms 1922 as her year of birth.
  2. ^ "Audrey Meadows, Alice in 'The Honeymooners,' Dies". Latimes.com. 5 February 1996. Retrieved January 7, 2018. 
  3. ^ "Audrey Meadows' Biography". Audreymeadows.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018. 
  4. ^ Reed, J.D. "Diamond in the Rough", People Magazine, February 19, 1996; retrieved October 28, 2015.
  5. ^ Collins, Glenn "For TV’s Trixie, the Honeymoon Lives On", The New York Times; retrieved October 28, 2015.
  6. ^ a b c Audrey Meadows on IMDb
  7. ^ Myrna Oliver. Los Angeles Times obituary for Audrey Meadows, February 5, 1996.
  8. ^ a b Serling, Robert J (1974). Maverick: The Story of Robert Six and Continental Airlines. Doubleday & Company. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-385-04057-0. 
  9. ^ "Audrey Meadows Quotes". Brainyquote.com. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  10. ^ Meadows, Audrey (January 1994). Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner. Crown Publishers. ISBN 978-0-517-59881-8. 
  11. ^ "Audrey Meadows, "Honeymooners' Co-Star, Dies at 71". The New York Times. February 5, 1996. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  12. ^ Gallo, Phil (October 10, 2002). "Gleason". Variety (magazine). Retrieved December 10, 2017. 

External links[edit]