Audrey Meadows

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.

Audrey Meadows
Born
Audrey Cotter

(1922-02-08)February 8, 1922
DiedFebruary 3, 1996(1996-02-03) (aged 73)
Beverly Hills, California, U.S.
Other namesAudrey Six
OccupationActress, banker, memoirist
Years active1950–1995
Known forThe Honeymooners
Too Close for Comfort
Spouse(s)
Randolph Rouse
(m. 1956; div. 1958)

Robert Six
(m. 1961; died 1986)
RelativesJayne Meadows (sister)
Websitewww.audreymeadows.com

Early life

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 sources state that she was born in 1922 in New York City.[2] Other biographies place her birth in 1926 in WuChang, China.[3][4] 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

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.

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.[5] However, Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton, did receive royalty payments when the "lost" Honeymooners episodes from the variety shows were later released.[6]

Career outside The Honeymooners

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.[7]

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).[7]

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).[7]

Personal life

In 1956 (during the run of The Honeymooners), she married a wealthy real estate man named Randolph Rouse.[8] 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.[9]

Meadows was a staunch Republican, who was quoted as saying, "I've always voted Republican because America is exactly that, a republic."[10]

Banking and marketing career

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.[9]

Memoirs

In October 1994, Meadows published her memoirs, Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner.[11]

Illness and death

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, after slipping into a coma at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. She was interred in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, next to her second husband.[12][13]

Legacy

Meadows was portrayed by Kristen Dalton in Gleason, a 2002 television biopic about the life of her Honeymooners co-star Jackie Gleason.[14]

Filmography

Film and television
Year Title Role Notes
1950The Baron of ArizonaTownswoman in Court SceneUncredited
1951The Amazing Mr. MaloneEpisode: "Blood Is Thicker Than Water"
1951–52Bob & RayRegular
1952Lux Video TheatreThe SingerEpisode: "Ceylon Treasure"
1952Pulitzer Prize PlayhouseLady MaryEpisode: "Monsieur Beaucaire"
1952–57The Jackie Gleason ShowAlice Kramden113 episodes
1953Man Against CrimeEpisode: "The Midnight Express"
1955–56The HoneymoonersAlice Kramden39 episodes
1959The United States Steel HourEpisodes: "Holiday on Wheels", "Marriage... Handle with Care"
1960–71The Red Skelton HourVarious Characters11 episodes
1960Play of the WeekNell ValentineEpisode: "The Grand Tour"
1960Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMrs. BixbyEpisode: "Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel's Coat"
1961Wagon TrainNancy PalmerEpisode: "The Nancy Palmer Story"
1961CheckmateAlthea ToddEpisode: "One for the Book"
1961General Electric TheaterConnie MarloweEpisode: "Sis Bowls 'Em Over"
1962The DuPont Show of the WeekConstanceEpisode: "The Action in New Orleans"
1962That Touch of MinkConnie Emerson
1962Sam BenedictDr. Carrie MortonEpisode: "Life Is a Lie, Love Is a Cheat"
1963Take Her, She's MineAnne Michaelson
1965Please Don't Eat the DaisiesKitty ClairEpisode: "The Big Brass Blonde"
1965Invisible DiplomatsKelly SmithShort film
1966Jackie Gleason: American Scene MagazineAlice KramdenEpisode: "The Honeymooners: The Adoption"
1966Clown AlleyWasherwoman ClownTV movie
1966PasswordHerselfGame Show Contestant / Celebrity Guest Star
1967Rosie!Mildred Deever
1972Love, American StyleEve / Harriet / MomSegment: "Love and Dear Old Mom and Dad"
1974The Dean Martin Celebrity RoastMartha WashingtonEpisode: "Celebrity Roast: George Washington"
1976The Honeymooners Second HoneymoonAlice KramdenTV special
1977The Honeymooners Christmas SpecialAlice Kramden / Mother CratchitTV special
1978The Honeymooners Valentine SpecialAlice KramdenTV special
1978The Love BoatGladys WatkinsEpisode: "Taking Sides/Going by the Book/A Friendly Little Game"
1978Starsky & HutchHilda ZuckermanEpisode: "Dandruff"
1978The Second Honeymooners Christmas SpecialAlice KramdenTV special
1980The Love BoatMrs. ElliottEpisode: "Another Time, Another Place/Doctor Who/Gopher's Engagement"
1981Lily: Sold Out!Polly JoTV special
1982Diff'rent StrokesMrs. MartinsonEpisode: "The Squatter"
1982–86Too Close for ComfortIris Martin23 episodes
1984The Love BoatHelen WilliamsEpisode: "A Rose is Not a Rose/Novelties/Too Rich and Too Thin"
1985HotelAmelia CheltonEpisode: "Pathways"
1986Murder, She WroteMildred TilleyEpisode: "If the Frame Fits"
1986Life with LucyAudrey (Lucy's sister)Episode: "Mother of the Bride"
1988CBS Summer PlayhouseAunt LunarEpisode: "The Johnsons Are Home"
1989NightingalesMrs. MandelEpisode: "Episode #1.4"
1990Red PepperInaTV movie
1990Later (talk show)HerselfEpisode: "Audrey Meadows"
1990–91Uncle BuckMaggie Hogoboom16 episodes
1991The SimpsonsBea Simmons (voice)Episode: "Old Money"
1991Hi Honey, I'm Home!Alice KramdenEpisode: "Fur Flies"
1992Davis RulesGunny's Ex-WifeEpisode: "Gunny's Ex"
1993SistersAda BenbowEpisode: "A Kick in the Caboose"
1994Burke's LawGeorgia StarkEpisode: "Who Killed Alexander the Great?"
1994Empty NestMargaret RandallEpisode: "The Devil and Dr. Weston"
1995Dave's WorldRuby2 episodes

References

  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. "COMIC ACTRESS AUDREY MEADOWS DIES". Washington Post. 1996-02-05. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  3. "Audrey Meadows, Alice in 'The Honeymooners,' Dies". Latimes.com. 5 February 1996. Retrieved January 7, 2018.
  4. "Audrey Meadows' Biography". Audreymeadows.com. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  5. Reed, J.D. "Diamond in the Rough", People Magazine, February 19, 1996; retrieved October 28, 2015.
  6. Collins, Glenn "For TV's Trixie, the Honeymoon Lives On", The New York Times; retrieved October 28, 2015.
  7. Audrey Meadows on IMDb
  8. Myrna Oliver. Los Angeles Times obituary for Audrey Meadows, February 5, 1996.
  9. Serling, Robert J (1974). Maverick: The Story of Robert Six and Continental Airlines. Doubleday & Company. p. 351. ISBN 978-0-385-04057-0.
  10. "Audrey Meadows Quotes". Brainyquote.com. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  11. Meadows, Audrey (January 1994). Love, Alice: My Life As A Honeymooner. Crown Publishers. ISBN 978-0-517-59881-8.
  12. "Audrey Meadows, "Honeymooners' Co-Star, Dies at 71". The New York Times. February 5, 1996. Retrieved August 30, 2017.
  13. Wilson, Scott (16 September 2016). "Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed". McFarland via Google Books.
  14. Gallo, Phil (October 10, 2002). "Gleason". Variety. Retrieved December 10, 2017.

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