ART CARNEY Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Arthur William Matthew Carney                                                       
Born: 4 November 1918 Mount Vernon, New York US                                           
Died: 9 November 2003 Chester, Connecticut                                                 
Art Carney (November 4, 1918 – November 9, 2003) was an Academy Award-winning           
American actor in film, stage, television and radio.                                       
Arthur William Matthew Carney was born in Mount Vernon, New York to Helen                 
Farrell and Edward M. Carney, a newspaper man and publicist. His family was               
Irish American and Catholic. He attended A B Davis High School. Carney was                 
drafted as an infantryman during World War II. During the Battle of Normandy, he           
was wounded in the leg by shrapnel and walked with a limp for the rest of his             
Carney was married three times to two women: Jean Myers, from 1940 to 1965; and           
again from 1980 to his death: three children; and Barbara Isaac from December 21,         
1966 to 1977.                                                                             
The main cast of The Honeymooners during its 1955–56 run (from left to right):           
Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, Carney, and Joyce Randolph                                 
Carney was a comic singer with the Horace Heidt orchestra. He began his film               
career in 1941 with an uncredited role in Pot o' Gold, a feature film starring             
James Stewart and Paulette Goddard, playing -- naturally enough -- a member of             
Heidt's band. Carney, a gifted mimic, made most of his living on radio, playing           
character roles and impersonating celebrities. In 1941 he was the house comic on           
the dance-band-remote series, Matinee at Meadowbrook. One of his radio roles               
during the 1940s was the fish Red Lantern on Land of the Lost. In 1943 he played           
Billy Oldham on Joe and Ethel Turp, based on Damon Runyon stories. He appeared             
on The Henry Morgan Show in 1946-47. He impersonated FDR on The March of Time             
and Dwight D. Eisenhower on Living 1948. In 1950-51 he played Montague's father           
on The Magnificent Montague. He was a supporting player on Casey, Crime                   
Photographer and Gang Busters. As Charlie the doorman on The Morey Amsterdam               
Show (on both radio and TV in 1948-50), he uttered the catchphrase, "Ya know               
what I mean?"                                                                             
In 1950 Jackie Gleason was starring in a New York-based comedy-variety series,             
Cavalcade of Stars, and played many different characters. One regular character           
was Charlie Bratten, a lunchroom loudmouth who insisted on spoiling a                     
neighboring patron's meal. Art Carney, established in New York as a reliable               
actor, played Bratten's mild-mannered victim, Clem Finch. Gleason and Carney               
developed a good working chemistry, and Gleason recruited Carney to appear in             
other sketches, including the domestic-comedy skits featuring The Honeymooners.           
Art Carney gained lifelong fame for his portrayal of upstairs neighbor and sewer           
worker Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden. The success of these           
skits resulted in the famous filmed situation comedy The Honeymooners and the             
Honeymooners revivals that followed.                                                       
Beyond The Honeymooners, Carney served as Gleason's sidekick and troupe member             
during many of the Gleason's years on television, which included several CBS               
runs of the Gleason variety show and some Honeymooners specials on ABC. Gleason           
picked Carney to play Norton because he realized that Carney was so funny that             
Gleason would have to work twice as hard to get laughs. This "competition"                 
between the two was likely a factor in the program's consistently high level of           
humor. In fact, at one point during the 1950s, Carney was getting more media               
attention than Gleason, prompting Gleason to scale back Carney's participation             
for a few episodes. Popular demand restored Carney to prominence in the Gleason           
Art Carney was very musical, and recorded prolifically in the 1950s for Columbia           
Records. Two of his hits were "The Song of the Sewer," sung in character as               
Norton, and "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," a spoken-word record in which             
Carney, accompanied only by a jazz drummer, recited the famous Yuletide poem in           
syncopation. Some of Carney's recordings were comedy-novelty songs, but most               
were silly songs intended especially for children. Unlike some entertainers who           
exaggerated their speech patterns for young listeners, Carney respected his               
juvenile audience and did not talk down to it.                                             
Between his stints with Jackie Gleason, Carney worked steadily as a character             
actor. In the season two opening episode of the Batman television series, titled           
"Shoot a Crooked Arrow" (1966), Carney gave a memorable performance as the newly           
introduced villain "The Archer". In 1974 he won the Academy Award for Best Actor           
for his performance as Harry Coombes, an elderly man going on the road with his           
pet cat, in Harry and Tonto. In 1978, Carney appeared in The Star Wars Holiday             
Special, a spin-off film to the Star Wars series. In it, he played Trader Saun             
Dann, a member of the Rebel Alliance who was a close friend of Chewbacca and his           
family. He also appeared in such films as W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings, The               
Late Show (as an aging detective), House Calls, Movie Movie and Going in Style (as         
a bored senior citizen who joins in bank robberies). Later movies included The             
Muppets Take Manhattan, and the thriller Firestarter. In 1981, he portrayed               
Harry Truman, an 84-year-old lodge owner in the half-fictional/half-real account           
of events leading to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, in the movie titled St.             
Helens. Although he retired in the late 1980s, he returned in 1993 to make a               
small cameo in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero.                           
Carney's good-naturedly goofy portrayal of Norton continues to influence pop               
culture, particularly by inspiring the Hanna-Barbera characters, Yogi Bear and             
Barney Rubble. Art Carney also had many screen and stage roles, including the             
portrayal on Broadway of Felix Unger in The Odd Couple (opposite Walter Matthau           
as Oscar). He was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won six.                             
Carney died of natural causes at a rest home near his home in Westbrook,                   
Connecticut, five days after his 85th birthday; he was survived by his widow and           
children. Carney is interred at Riverside Cemetery in Old Saybrook, Middlesex             
County, Connecticut.