On Saturday, June 5, the 43rd Kennedy Center Honors will be held in Washington, D.C. This annual event follows a tradition of honoring five individuals or entities within the performing arts, with commendations given to icons from the worlds of film and television, theater, popular music, classical music and opera, and dance
Traditionally, the Kennedy Center Honors have focused on lifetime achievements – an exception was made in 2018 when the award went to the creators of the Broadway show “Hamilton.” Also, for years it was an unspoken tradition to present four of the awards to white artists and one to a token minority – it wasn’t until 2013 that the majority of honorees were nonwhites. And while the Kennedy Center Honors was initially designed to celebrate American talent, over the years the prize has gone to British and Japanese artists.
BOOTLEG FILES 635: “The Honeymooners – The REALLY Lost Debut Episodes” (1993 television special).
LAST SEEN: On YouTube.
AMERICAN HOME VIDEO: None.
REASON FOR BOOTLEG STATUS: The program was never re-released to home entertainment channels.
CHANCES OF SEEING A COMMERCIAL DVD RELEASE: Unlikely.
In 1993, fans of “The Honeymooners” were shocked to learn that some of the earliest episodes of the classic comedy were rediscovered after being presumed lost for more than 40 years. These episodes, which consisted of eight- to twelve-minute sketches performed on the “Cavalcade of Stars” variety program broadcast on the DuMont network, were presented during the spring at special screenings at the Museum of Television and Radio in New York and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. On October 30, 1993, six of the sketches were gathered into a Disney Channel special called “The Honeymooners – The REALLY Lost Debut Episodes.”
Let me preface this review by stating that I am a hardcore “The Honeymooners” fan.
Growing up I lived with a mother and father who ate, slept and breathed Ralph and Ed Norton’s antics, did nothing but quote the series over and over, and as a plus, my dad’s threats to us as kids were always greeted with the preamble: “Remember: the life you save, may be your own.” Growing up, I learned to absolutely love every inch of “The Honeymooners” (save for the lost episodes that stunk like a rotten lizard) and subsequent my purchase of the “Classic 39” on DVD, I made it a ritual of watching it every six months non-stop.
Not many people know this, but both of my parents are hardcore fans of “The Honeymooners” and growing up I must have seen every episode of the Jackie Gleason sitcom at least a thousand times. I have every quote memorized, I remember every episode, and yes, I’ve even sat through the painfully unfunny, and boring “Lost” Episodes. I’ve also never seen the cinematic reboot with Cedric the Entertainer since, as a fan, I have to draw a line somewhere. In either case, 2016 marks the sixtieth anniversary of when Jackie Gleason voluntarily cancelled his sitcom “The Honeymooners” after thirty nine episodes.
The series lived on in syndication for decades after, becoming a cult classic and garnering an immense following of loyal fans. There was even at one time a convention for the fans of the series. “The Honeymooners” is a New York staple, and every single year the local TV station in New York (WPIX/Channel 11), plays a twenty four hour marathon of all thirty nine episodes. Since it’s been almost a hundred years since the show bowed out, I thought I’d list my top five favorite episodes of the series. It was not an easy feat, at all. With great pain, I had to omit a ton of great episodes in favor of this five, including “The Worry Wart,” “Trapped,” “A Matter of Record,” “Mama Loves Mambo,” and so many more.
In spite of that, these are the top five episodes of “The Honeymooners” that always stand out most for me. If you have never seen “The Honeymooners,” I highly suggest these five.
Almost sixty years later, Jackie Gleason’s legendary spin off of “Cavalcade of Stars” popular comedy segment about a normal bus driver named Ralph Kramden seeking his riches and fame, while living with a long suffering wife endures and remains one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. It stands besides “I Love Lucy,” and “Gilligan’s Island,” as one of the most recognizable and beloved series that always manages to find its way on to television, in spite of the series being set during a time where the telephone was still a rare element of the average household. The reason why “The Honeymooners” continues to live on, is not just because of the fact that Ralph Kramden is a quintessential every man, but for the brilliant writing, excellent acting, and top notch comedy that packs a punch even today.