Together with his partner Jackie Gleason, comedian Art Carney helped create some of the most unforgettable comedy ever presented on the small screen. But before he entertained America, Art Carney served America, on active duty during World War II.
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ART CARNEY
Actor

Together with his partner Jackie Gleason, comedian Art Carney helped create some of the most unforgettable comedy ever presented on the small screen.

But before he entertained America, Art Carney served America, on active duty during World War II.

Art Carney was born in Mount Vernon, New York and attended A B Davis High School. Carney was drafted as an infantryman during World War II. While with the US Army, Carney went to Normandy in July of 1944 as a replacement to the 28th Division in position around St Louis. On August 15, 1944 he had just taken up his position and was hit in the right leg by mortar shrapnel. After receiving field treatment, he was sent back to Britain and then to the US; as a result of his wound, Carney walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

Carney went on to be a comic singer with the Horace Heidt orchestra, heard on radio during the 1930s. As a gifted mimic, he worked steadily in radio throughout the 1940s, playing character roles and impersonating celebrities. In 1941 he was the house comic on the big band remote series, Matinee at Meadowbrook. One of his radio roles during the 1940s was the fish Red Lantern on Land of the Lost. In 1943 he played Billy Oldham on Joe and Ethel Turp, based on Damon Runyon stories. He appeared on The Henry Morgan Show in 1946-47. He impersonated FDR on The March of Time and Dwight D. Eisenhower on Living 1948. In 1950-51 he played Montague's father on The Magnificent Montague. He was a supporting player on Casey, Crime Photographer and Gang Busters.

On The Morey Amsterdam Show from 1948 to 1950, Carney's character Charlie the doorman became known for his catchphrase, "Ya know what I mean?" a phrase that continues to have widespread usage more than half a century later.

In 1950 Jackie Gleason was starring in a New York-based comedy-variety series, Cavalcade of Stars. One regular character was Charlie Bratten, a lunchroom loudmouth who insisted on spoiling a neighboring patron's meal. Carney, established in New York as a reliable actor, played Bratten's mild-mannered victim, Clem Finch. Gleason recruited Carney to appear in other sketches, including the domestic-comedy skits featuring The Honeymooners. Carney gained lifelong fame for his portrayal of upstairs neighbor and sewer worker Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden. The success of these skits resulted in the famous sitcom The Honeymooners and the Honeymooners revivals that followed.

Beyond The Honeymooners, Carney served as Gleason's sidekick and troupe member during Gleason's years on television, which included several CBS runs of the Gleason variety show and some Honeymooners specials on ABC. Carney's good-naturedly goofy portrayal of Norton continues to influence pop culture, particularly by inspiring the cartoon characters Yogi Bear and Barney Rubble.

Carney has been nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won six.

Carney also appeared in an episode of The Twilight Zone. In 1964, he guest starred in the CBS drama Mr. Broadway. And he starred in the short-lived television drama, Lannigan's Rabbi, 1977.

In 1974, Carney won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance as Harry Coombes, an elderly man going on the road with his pet cat, in Harry and Tonto. He also appeared in such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, The Late Show, House Calls, Movie Movie and Going in Style. Later movies included The Muppets Take Manhattan and Firestarter.

In 1981, Art Carney portrayed Harry Truman, an 84-year-old lodge owner in the half-fictional/half-real account of events leading to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, in the movie, St. Helens. Although he retired in the late 1980s, he returned in 1993 to make a small cameo in Last Action Hero.

The partnership formed by Carney and Gleason, as Brooklyn bus driver Ralph Kramden and sewer worker Ed Norton on the TV comedy The Honeymooners, remains one of TVs the most memorable comedic unions.



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