About Jackie Gleason
Loved as the oversized, easily agitated comedic genius behind The Honeymooners and other television and Broadway shows, Jackie Gleason was also a superb (if underused) dramatic actor and a musical maven whose "mood music" albums of the 1950s and early '60s remain highly prized today. Gleason's easy listening work often topped the pop charts and is among the finest the genre ever produced. Yet it's always been questionable what Gleason actually did on his albums since so many other people played on and arranged them. It's most likely that Gleason told his excellent team, which included jazz soloists like Bobby Hackett, about the sounds he had in his mind, selected the tunes for the albums, and worked with the art director to create atmospheric album covers. Although his biggest selling release, Lonesome Echo (1955), features a painting by Salvador Dali, Gleason's record sleeves are more often graced with dewy-eyed sentimental/suicidal beauties weighted by cigarettes, booze and memories of better days. These covers perfectly mirror the lushly romantic, yet melancholic, nature of Gleason's jazzy music, which becomes downright depressive on his infamously morose Christmas album which sounds like a hallucinating drunk remembering past holidays from a bar stool. This sentimental streak ran deep in Gleason, and he abused and worshipped whiskey. In fact, it is said that it was Gleason who introduced a clean living Frank Sinatra to Jack Daniels.