Tuesday, January 13, 2009


How many great comedians harbor a secret dream of dramatic acting? From Milton Berle to Bill Murray and from Robin Williams to Adam Sandler we've watched as jesters aspire to play kings, and some have done it with great success.

In the 1950's , when network television produced a seemingly boundless array of live, dramatic programs, there was ample opportunity for an accomplished comedy star to take on a tragic role. It was beneficial for all involved. The comedian got a star turn in a serious production and the show got to capitalize on the formidable presence of a comic legend.

Below are two rare clips that, in my opinion, make the point.

From CBS-TV's respected series, Westinghouse Studio One, the voluble Jackie Gleason stars as Jerry Giles, a self-destructive, self- centered, nightclub comic who is determined to achieve stardom at any cost, in the LIVE, 1954 production of The Laughmaker, which features his Honeymooners co-star Art Carney in a world weary, supporting role. Enjoy!!!!!!

On the other end of the spectrum, there is Jerry Lewis starring in the LIVE, 1959, Lincoln-Mercury Star Time, revival of The Jazz Singer on NBC-TV . It's the sentimental morality play, about a young, Jewish performer coming to grips with the disappointment he dealt his father , a Cantor, by choosing a musical career over service to God and family. It was the role originated by Al Jolson in the 1927 Warner Bros. production that ushered in the age of talking films. Here, the premise is updated to feature comic-icon, Lewis as a modern day, nightclub entertainer and adds musical performance to the dramatic mix. Enjoy!!!!!!.

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