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.
Other names Audrey Six
Occupation Actress, banker, memoirist
Years active 1951–1995
Known for The Honeymooners
Too Close for Comfort
Spouse(s) Randolph Rouse (1956–1958; divorced)
Robert Six (1961–1986; his death)
Website Official website

Audrey Meadows (February 8, 1922 – February 3, 1996)[1] was an American actress best known for her role as the deadpan housewife Alice Kramden on the 1950s American television comedy The Honeymooners.

Early life[edit]

Born as Audrey Cotter in New York City[2] in 1922, she was the youngest of four siblings. Her parents, the Rev. Francis James Meadows Cotter and his wife, the former Ida Miller Taylor, had been Episcopal missionaries in Wu-ch'ang, 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.


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. Meadows submitted a far different photo of herself, looking much plainer, the next day and 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 and in a parody sketch on The Jack Benny Program.

Meadows was the only member of the Honeymooners cast to earn residuals after the "Classic 39" episodes of the show from 1955-56 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. [3] However, Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton, did receive royalty payments when the "lost" Honeymooners episodes from the variety shows were later released.[4]

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.

She appeared in feature films, appeared on Dean Martin's television variety shows and celebrity roasts, and years later returned to situation comedy in the 1980s playing Ted Knight's mother-in-law on Too Close for Comfort (1982–85). 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, Grandpa Simpson's girlfriend. Her last work was an appearance on Dave's World, in which she played the mother of Kenny (Shadoe Stevens).[5]

Personal life[edit]

In 1956, she married a wealthy real estate man named Randolph Rouse.[6] On August 24, 1961, Meadows married her second husband, Robert F. "Bob" Six, president of Continental Airlines, in Honolulu, Hawaii. They remained married until Six's death on October 6, 1986. She had no children by either marriage.[7] Meadows never remarried.

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. From 1961–1981, 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.[7]


In October 1994, Meadows published her memoirs, Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner.[8]

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, at Cedars Sinai Hospital-Los Angeles after slipping into a coma, five days before her 74th birthday. She was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, next to her husband.


  1. ^ Born in 1922, not 1926, notwithstanding Find a Grave as per Social Security Death Index (SSDI) entry for Audrey Six
  2. ^ 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 Southamption, 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.
  3. ^ Reed, J.D. "Diamond in the Rough" February 19, 1996 People Magazine retrieved October 28, 2015
  4. ^ Collins, Glenn "For TV’s Trixie, the Honeymoon Lives On" January 27, 2007 The New York Times retrieved October 28, 2015
  5. ^ Audrey Meadows at the Internet Movie Database
  6. ^ Los Angeles Times obituary, by Myrna Oliver, Feb 5th 1996
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ Meadows, Audrey (January 1994). Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner. Crown Publishers. ISBN 978-0-517-59881-8. 

External links[edit]