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The Golden Ham: A Candid Biography of Jackie Gleason

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The Golden Ham, first published in 1956, recounts the career of entertainer and comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) from his beginnings in show-business to the mid-1950s when he was at the peak of his early success with The Honeymooners.From the book's dust jacket: In his foreword, author Jim Bishop says of Jackie Gleason that when the comedian read the manuscript for the The Golden Ham, first published in 1956, recounts the career of entertainer and comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) from his beginnings in show-business to the mid-1950s when he was at the peak of his early success with The Honeymooners.From the book's dust jacket: In his foreword, author Jim Bishop says of Jackie Gleason that when the comedian read the manuscript for the first time “he did not ask that anything be either omitted or altered. And yet there were parts of this biography that made him wince.” For The Golden Ham is candid biography. To it Mr. Bishop brought his painstaking interest in detail, his reporter’s curiosity, his layman’s interest in the world of the theater, and his detachment. And most important, he began and ended his job with Jackie Gleason’s guarantee that nothing Bishop wrote would be censored. The result is a kind of theatrical biography that is entirely new and, like Gleason himself, is made up of a great deal of a great many things. As Bishop says: “There are several Jackie Gleasons. I know some of them. There is Gleason the comedian. Millions know him, and he’s a great talent. Then there is Gleason the producer and Gleason the writer. Some people know these...Gleason the businessman-second-rate, but he thinks he’s good at it – and then there is Gleason the thinker (apt and fast) and Gleason the man (fat, out of shape, but light on his feet) and Gleason the tenement-house kid from Brooklyn (nervy and not a bit surprised that he’s on top) and Gleason the lover, Gleason the musician, Gleason the moody, and Gleason the lonely, tormented soul.” This is a book about Jackie Gleason. If you like him, it may make you like him more, or less, depending on the kind of person you are. If you never liked him, it may change your mind a little. If you never had any special attitude toward Jackie Gleason, you will have one by the time you have finished this book.Gleason, a 4-pack-a-day smoker, passed away at his home in Florida on June 24, 1987.


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The Golden Ham, first published in 1956, recounts the career of entertainer and comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) from his beginnings in show-business to the mid-1950s when he was at the peak of his early success with The Honeymooners.From the book's dust jacket: In his foreword, author Jim Bishop says of Jackie Gleason that when the comedian read the manuscript for the The Golden Ham, first published in 1956, recounts the career of entertainer and comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) from his beginnings in show-business to the mid-1950s when he was at the peak of his early success with The Honeymooners.From the book's dust jacket: In his foreword, author Jim Bishop says of Jackie Gleason that when the comedian read the manuscript for the first time “he did not ask that anything be either omitted or altered. And yet there were parts of this biography that made him wince.” For The Golden Ham is candid biography. To it Mr. Bishop brought his painstaking interest in detail, his reporter’s curiosity, his layman’s interest in the world of the theater, and his detachment. And most important, he began and ended his job with Jackie Gleason’s guarantee that nothing Bishop wrote would be censored. The result is a kind of theatrical biography that is entirely new and, like Gleason himself, is made up of a great deal of a great many things. As Bishop says: “There are several Jackie Gleasons. I know some of them. There is Gleason the comedian. Millions know him, and he’s a great talent. Then there is Gleason the producer and Gleason the writer. Some people know these...Gleason the businessman-second-rate, but he thinks he’s good at it – and then there is Gleason the thinker (apt and fast) and Gleason the man (fat, out of shape, but light on his feet) and Gleason the tenement-house kid from Brooklyn (nervy and not a bit surprised that he’s on top) and Gleason the lover, Gleason the musician, Gleason the moody, and Gleason the lonely, tormented soul.” This is a book about Jackie Gleason. If you like him, it may make you like him more, or less, depending on the kind of person you are. If you never liked him, it may change your mind a little. If you never had any special attitude toward Jackie Gleason, you will have one by the time you have finished this book.Gleason, a 4-pack-a-day smoker, passed away at his home in Florida on June 24, 1987.

30 review for The Golden Ham: A Candid Biography of Jackie Gleason

  1. 4 out of 5

    Richard Bennett

    'The Golden Ham' is a book for those who grew up on Television in the 50's and 60's, who watched the exploits of Jackie Gleason in 'The Honeymooners' and caught his movies. I wanted to know about the man who made us laugh, and while reading the Jim Bishop biography, I wanted to cry. Jackie Gleason grew up fighting poverty while living with his mother, after the family had been abandoned by his father while Jackie was young. He took odd jobs and hung out at the pool halls, bars and theatres, know 'The Golden Ham' is a book for those who grew up on Television in the 50's and 60's, who watched the exploits of Jackie Gleason in 'The Honeymooners' and caught his movies. I wanted to know about the man who made us laugh, and while reading the Jim Bishop biography, I wanted to cry. Jackie Gleason grew up fighting poverty while living with his mother, after the family had been abandoned by his father while Jackie was young. He took odd jobs and hung out at the pool halls, bars and theatres, knowing that somehow he was going to be a large presence in show business. He showed much promise, then his mother died, refusing any medical treatment or doctor visits (probably because of the costs), leaving him alone in the world in 1935 at age 19. After this, the stage, show business and show people became his extended family. He married a girl to keep her off the stage, to keep her from becoming a dancer, primarily because he knew what happened to girls who hung around show biz people; he kept her home to become his housewife while he tried to make a living being an announcer or emcee and comedian ... she was all that was good, while he was all that was bad. They were both Catholic, had two little girls, then the marriage went stale. Jackie like to hang around the boys too much, come home early in the morning, drunk, then would sleep until it was time to get up and go to his gig and/or look for another job. He lived beyond his means, and money slipped through his fingers. Mrs. Gleason, Gen, would try to straighten him out, but he saw this as 'nagging'. Eventually their marriage would fall apart, and Jackie would hang around the show gals he met at work. In the meantime he allowed himself to fall in love with the sister of June Taylor (his later television dance choreographer), Marilyn. Since this book was written in 1956, I felt as though I only got half the story of his career, but I got a lot of his home and personal life, which was satisfying, and felt as though I knew more about the man who made us laugh. What a driven talent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Connie Powell

    Not enough.... I was disappointed with where the book ended. I was really wanting to find out more about his love life and the latter years of his life. It basically stopped when his career was taking off. His personal life was in shambles and there are so many questions left unanswered. He was a genius in comedy, music, film, and many other venues. Why didn't Bishop wrote an addendum to his book. Also what happened to Gen and his daughters? Why did he marry someone other than Marilyn before he Not enough.... I was disappointed with where the book ended. I was really wanting to find out more about his love life and the latter years of his life. It basically stopped when his career was taking off. His personal life was in shambles and there are so many questions left unanswered. He was a genius in comedy, music, film, and many other venues. Why didn't Bishop wrote an addendum to his book. Also what happened to Gen and his daughters? Why did he marry someone other than Marilyn before he married her? I will be searching for more info elsewhere.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Dawn T. Ryan

    Great book about The Greatest! Must read if a Jackie Gleason fan. Very good insight to how his life shaped Mr. Gleason and Mr. Gleason lived to become one of the greatest entertainers ever.

  4. 5 out of 5

    D. Johnson

    The Great One This is an early biography of Brooklyn's own Jackie Gleason as authorized by the man himself...excellent read detailing his start in Bushwick, Brooklyn up until the early days of TV...Highly recommended The Great One This is an early biography of Brooklyn's own Jackie Gleason as authorized by the man himself...excellent read detailing his start in Bushwick, Brooklyn up until the early days of TV...Highly recommended

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    First published in 1956, recounts the career of entertainer and comedian Jackie Gleason (1916-1987) from his beginnings in show-business to the mid-1950s when he was at the peak of his early success with The Honeymooners. #memoir #comedy #entertainment

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ruthann Martin

  7. 5 out of 5

    LOUISE CASTELLI

  8. 5 out of 5

    David L Dougherty

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lola L. Mercurio

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Kelly

  11. 4 out of 5

    lou

  12. 4 out of 5

    Mark Manuel

  13. 4 out of 5

    John F Wise

  14. 4 out of 5

    Scott von Berg

  15. 5 out of 5

    darci spetter

  16. 5 out of 5

    thomas babic

  17. 5 out of 5

    michael eakin

  18. 4 out of 5

    Gregory C Reed

  19. 4 out of 5

    Michael Sharpe

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

  21. 4 out of 5

    Bill Baker

  22. 5 out of 5

    william bredekamp

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michele Neighbors

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lowell Bohrer

  25. 4 out of 5

    Faye Marzitelli

  26. 5 out of 5

    Frank Lifrieri

  27. 5 out of 5

    doug & jan

  28. 4 out of 5

    memoirs

  29. 4 out of 5

    Donna Ledet

  30. 5 out of 5

    deborah dushane

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