Audrey Meadows

Active - 1952 - 1996  |   Born - Feb 8, 1922 in Wuchang, China  |   Died - Feb 3, 1996 in Los Angeles, CA  |   Genres - Comedy

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Biography

Audrey Meadows will be forever immortalized as Alice Kramden ("Alice, you're the greatest!"), wife of bus-driver Ralph Kramden on The Honeymooners (irregularly from 1951-1971). Despite its later popularity, The Honeymooners actually began as a series of sketches, just one part of The Jackie Gleason Show (1952-1970). The show had only one real season of 39 shows, in 1955, and it wasn't a success. Later, the original sketches were re-edited into episodes in the '80s, which is when the show finally became a success. Born in China, the red-haired actress is the older sister of Steve Allen's wife Jayne Meadows. She also appeared on Bob and Ray (1951-53), Club Embassy (1952-53), Too Close for Comfort (1980-83), and several game shows. She won an Emmy Award for The Jackie Gleason Show in 1955. Her film appearances include Lady in the Lake (1946). Meadow's feature film credits include character roles in That Touch of Mink (1962) and Rosie! (1967). In 1995, Meadows was diagnosed with cancer, but she told no one, not even her sister, until she was admitted to the hospital on January 24, 1996. Meadows passed away on February 3, 1996.

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Factsheet

  • Spoke only Chinese until age 5, when her missionary parents moved the family from China to Connecticut.
  • Made her professional debut at 16, as a coloratura soprano in Carnegie Hall.
  • Debuted on Broadway in the musical Top Banana, opposite Phil Silvers. 
  • Was originally turned down for the role of Alice Kramden in The Honeymooners because Jackie Gleason thought she was too pretty. She later submitted a photo of herself with no makeup and a more frumpy look and was offered the part.
  • Was the only Honeymooners cast member to have a clause in her contract that she be paid residuals from rebroadcasts of the program.
  • Published her autobiography, Love, Alice: The Life of a Honeymooner, in 1994.
  • Along with her sister, Jayne Meadows, had a cameo in the 1995 movie Casino. The movie would be her last.