Joyce Randolph, who performed the spouse of a guffawing, rubber-limbed sewer employee without end mired in a blowhard neighbor’s get-rich-quick schemes and different hazards of life on the basic Nineteen Fifties sitcom “The Honeymooners,” died on Saturday at her house in Manhattan. She was 99.
Her demise was confirmed to the website TMZ by her son, Randolph Charles.
She was the final survivor of a forged of 4 that dominated the Saturday night time viewing habits of tens of millions within the golden age of reside tv, and for many years afterward on rerun broadcasts and residential video. Jackie Gleason (Ralph Kramden) died in 1987; Audrey Meadows (Ralph’s spouse, Alice) in 1996; and Artwork Carney (Ed Norton) in 2003.
In an age when standing symbols in a gritty Brooklyn tenement had been telephones, tv units and fridges, the Kramdens had none on a bus driver’s $62 per week. Reflecting America’s working-class expertise, they struggled for a greater life, shared disappointments and had enjoyable, even when there was no uranium mine in Asbury Park and no marketplace for glow-in-the-dark wallpaper, no-cal pizza or “KramMar’s Scrumptious Thriller Appetizer,” which turned out to be pet food.
Ms. Randolph performed Trixie Norton, the upstairs spouse who crossed her arms and commiserated along with her finest good friend, Alice, over addlepated husbands who someway acquired drunk on grape juice, discovered a suitcase of the mob’s counterfeit money, invented a “useful” kitchen instrument that would “core a apple” and, after ready all yr for the conference of their Worldwide Order of Pleasant Raccoons, took the flawed prepare.
Whereas her character was much less developed than the others, Ms. Randolph was revered by aficionados because the final dwelling hyperlink to the impressed lunacy of a present that had a cultlike following, with fan golf equipment, esoteric trivia contests and memorabilia gross sales. At a 1984 Lengthy Island assembly of the Royal Affiliation for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners, or RALPH, one may purchase a size-52 bus driver’s uniform or a coveted Trixie apron.
Ms. Randolph appeared in this system’s heyday from 1951 to 1957. It was first a skit on “Cavalcade of Stars,” a DuMont community selection present that includes Mr. Gleason. From 1952 to 1954, it was a section on CBS’s “The Jackie Gleason Present.” In 1955-56, it was a self-contained half-hour CBS sequence, whose 39 episodes had been filmed earlier than a reside viewers of 1,000. Lastly in 1957, it reappeared as a part of “The Jackie Gleason Present.”
On the peak of the present’s recognition, Ms. Randolph was its lowest-salaried star at $500 per week. Mr. Gleason had contracts that paid tens of millions, however he coated all of the manufacturing prices and took $65,000 to $70,000 an episode. Mr. Carney was paid $3,500 and Ms. Meadows $2,000 weekly.
The forged had no illusions about making tv historical past, and for Ms. Randolph, “The Honeymooners” was hardly even a full-time job. There was just one rehearsal, hours earlier than airtime.
“We by no means noticed Jackie till 11 a.m. on Saturday, the morning of the present,” she recalled in an interview with The New York Occasions. “At lunchtime there was only one run-through with Jackie. He stated that comedy didn’t work if it was overrehearsed.”
She was born Joyce Sirola in Detroit on Oct. 21, 1924, considered one of two kids of Carl and Mary Sirola. Her father, a Finnish immigrant, was a butcher.
She graduated from Cooley Excessive College in Detroit and moved to New York in 1943. She started performing at 19, becoming a member of a street firm manufacturing of “Stage Door.”
After touring with “Abie’s Irish Rose” and “Good Evening, Girls,” she made her Broadway debut in 1945 in “A Goose for the Gander,” starring Gloria Swanson. Within the late Forties, she was more and more on tv, seen with Eddie Cantor, Danny Thomas, Fred Allen and the comedy staff of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.
Mr. Gleason noticed her in a 1951 chewing-gum business and employed her for a skit on his “Cavalcade of Stars.” She later joined “The Honeymooners,” changing Elaine Stritch as Trixie after one efficiency. By then she was often known as Joyce Randolph.
“The Honeymooners” was the excessive level of her profession, but it surely allowed time for a lot of different tv roles, largely as a sufferer of homicide and mayhem. “Up to now yr,” a 1952 New York Day by day Information profile stated, “TV actress Joyce Randolph has been shot 14 instances, strangled 4 instances, stabbed with a penknife thrice, tossed out of home windows twice, and run down by a rushing limousine as soon as.”
In 1955, Ms. Randolph married Richard Charles, a enterprise govt. That they had a son, Randolph. Her husband died in 1997.
Info on survivors was not instantly out there.
After leaving “The Honeymooners,” which was revived with varied casts within the ’60s and ’70s, she discovered herself typecast and largely gave up performing, besides for infrequent tv and private appearances.
Ms. Randolph devoted an eight-foot bronze statue of Mr. Gleason on the Port Authority Bus Terminal in 2000. She acquired a standing ovation at a U.S.O. gala in New York in 2006.
“I suppose all these younger Marines watch tv,” she stated.