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The Honeymooners as a series of its own debuted on October 1, 1955 on CBS Television.

In fact, the Honeymooners were based on a recurring 1951–55 sketch of the same name. It originally aired on the DuMont network’s  Calvacade of Stars and then later on CBS’s The Jackie Gleason Show.

The first episode of the new half-hour series aired on a Saturday night at 8.30 pm  Eastern Time (during prime time), opposite Ozrak Jubilee and ABC and The Perry Como Show on NBC. It was sponsored by Buick, and the opening credits originally ended with a sponsor identification by announcer Jack Lescoulie (“Brought to you by … Your Buick Dealer. And away we go!”), and the show concluded with a brief Gleason sales pitch for the company. All references to the car maker were removed when the show entered syndication in 1957.

This show, as was the case with all 39 episodes, was filmed at the DuMont Television Network’s Adelphi Theater at 152 West 54th Street in Manhattan, in front of an audience of 1,000. Episodes were never fully rehearsed, as Gleason felt that rehearsals would rob the show of its spontaneity. The result was that while the cast was able to bring a fresh approach to the material, mistakes were often made — lines were either recited incorrectly or forgotten altogether, and actors did not follow the scripted action. To compensate, the cast developed visual cues for each other: Gleason patted his stomach when he forgot a line, while Meadows would glance at the refrigerator when someone else was supposed to retrieve something from it.

Although initially a ratings success —becoming the #2 show in the United States during its first season, it soon dropped to #19, ending its production after only those 39 episodes (now referred to as the “Classic 39”). The final episode of The Honeymooners aired on September 22, 1956.

Of course, the Honeymooners endured – mostly thanks to syndication.

 

Now, 60 years later, it is considered classic by many.

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