Joyce Randolph Played Herself on The Honeymooners

Actress was the last of the 1950s sitcom's cast
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 14, 2024 1:50 PM CST
Joyce Randolph Played Herself on The Honeymooners
Actress Joyce Randolph, who played "Trixie" on the TV series "The Honeymooners," in 2008   (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)

Joyce Randolph, a veteran stage and television actress whose role as the savvy Trixie Norton on The Honeymooners provided the perfect foil to her dimwitted TV husband, has died. She was 99. Randolph died of natural causes Saturday night at her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, the AP reports. She was the last surviving main character of the beloved comedy from television's golden age of the 1950s. The Honeymooners was an affectionate look at Brooklyn tenement life, based in part on star Jackie Gleason's childhood. Gleason played the blustering bus driver Ralph Kramden. Audrey Meadows was his wisecracking, strong-willed wife, Alice, and Art Carney the cheerful sewer worker Ed Norton.

Alice and Trixie often commiserated over their husbands' follies and mishaps, such as unknowingly marketing dogfood as a popular snack, trying in vain to resist a rent hike, or freezing in the winter after their heat is shut off. Gleason would not rehearse, per the Hollywood Reporter, so, Randolph said, "We just played ourselves." Originating in 1950 as a recurring skit on Gleason's variety show, Cavalcade of Stars, The Honeymooners still ranks among the all-time favorites of television comedy. For one season in 1955-56, it became a full-fledged series of 39 episodes. In 2007, Randolph told the New York Times she received no residuals for those 39 episodes. She said she finally began getting royalties with the discovery of "lost" episodes from the variety hours.

After five years in Gleason's repertory company, Randolph virtually retired to focus on marriage and motherhood, per the AP. "I didn't want a nanny raising (my) wonderful son," she said. Decades later, Randolph still had many admirers and received dozens of letters a week. She was a regular into her 80s at the downstairs bar at Sardi's, where she'd sip her favorite White Cadillac concoction—Dewar's and milk—and chat with patrons who recognized her from a portrait of the sitcom cast over the bar. Randolph said the show's impact didn't dawn on her until the early 1980s, when her son was in college at Yale. "He came home and said, 'Did you know that guys and girls come up to me and ask, 'Is your mom really Trixie?'" she said. "I guess he hadn't paid much attention before then."

(More obituary stories.)

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