Joyce Randolph, last of the 'Honeymooners', dies at 99

Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton's wife, the rubber-knuckle sewer worker's wife, on the classic 1950s sitcom “The Honeymooners,” died Saturday. Her home in Manhattan. She is 99 years old.

His death was confirmed to The Associated Press by his son, Randolph Charles.

He is the last survivor of the four actors who dominated the Saturday night viewing habits of millions during the golden age of live television and remained on reruns and home video for decades. Jackie Gleeson (Ralph Gramton) died in 1987; Audrey Meadows (Ralph's wife, Alice) in 1996; and Art Carney (Ed Norton) in 2003.

In an era when status codes were telephones, television sets and refrigerators in a squalid Brooklyn apartment, the Kramdens had nothing on $62 a week as a bus driver. Although Asbury Park had no uranium mines, no market for shiny wallpaper, no-call pizza or “grammars,” they fought for a better life, shared disappointments, and had fun, reflecting the working-class experience of America. Delicious Mystery Appetizer,” which turned out to be dog food.

As Trixie, Mrs. Randolph played Mati's wife in “Cor A Apple” and, after waiting all year for a convention of their international friendly raccoons, took the wrong train.

While his character was less developed than others, he was hailed by enthusiasts as the last living link to the inspired madness of a show with cult followings such as fan clubs, esoteric trivia contests and memorabilia sales. At the 1984 meeting of the Long Island Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners, or RALPH, one could purchase a size-52 bus driver's uniform or the coveted Trixie apron.

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Mrs. Randolph appeared in the show's prime from 1951 to 1957. It was originally a skit in “Cavalcade of Stars”, which Mr. A Dumont Network variety show featuring Gleason. From 1952 to 1954, it was part of CBS's “The Jackie Gleason Show.” In 1955–56, it was a half-hour CBS series, with 39 episodes filmed before 1,000 live audiences. Finally reappeared in 1957, as part of “The Jackie Gleason Show”.

At the height of the show's popularity, Ms. Randolph was the lowest paid star at $500 a week. Mr. Gleeson had contracts worth millions, but he covered all production costs and took in $65,000 to $70,000 an episode. Mr. Carney was paid $3,500 weekly and Ms.

The cast has no illusions about making television history, and Ms. For Randolph, “The Honeymooners” wasn't even a full-time job. There was only one rehearsal, the hour before broadcast time.

“We didn't see Jackie until 11 o'clock the morning of the show,” he recalled in an interview with The New York Times. “There was only one run-through with Jackie at lunchtime. He said comedy doesn't work if it's over-rehearsed.

She was born Joyce Cirola on October 21, 1924, in Detroit, one of two children of Carl and Mary Cirola. His father, a Finnish immigrant, was a butcher.

He graduated from Cooley High School in Detroit and moved to New York in 1943. He began acting at the age of 19, joining the production of the road company “Stage Door”.

After touring with “Abie's Irish Rose” and “Good Night, Ladies,” he made his Broadway debut in 1945 in “A Goose for the Gander” starring Gloria Swanson. In the late 1940s, he appeared increasingly on television with the comedy team of Eddie Cantor, Danny Thomas, Fred Allen and Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

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Mr. Gleason spotted her in a 1951 chewing gum commercial and hired her for a skit in his “Cavalcade of Stars.” He later joined “The Honeymooners,” replacing Elaine Stritch as Trixie after one performance. He was then known as Joyce Randolph.

“The Honeymooners” was the high point of his career, but it allowed time for several television roles, mostly as victims of murder and mayhem. “During the past year,” said a 1952 New York Daily News profile, “television actress Joyce Randolph was shot 14 times, strangled four times, stabbed three times with a penknife, twice thrown out of windows, and sped over. Once in a limousine.”

In 1955, Mrs. Randolph married Richard Charles, a business executive. They had a son named Randolph. Her husband died in 1997.

Information on survivors was not immediately available.

After leaving revivals of “The Honeymooners” in the '60s and '70s with various cast members, she found herself typecast and has largely given up acting, except for occasional television and personal appearances.

Dedicated by Mrs. Randolph Eight feet bronze statue In 2000 at the Port Authority Bus Terminal Mr. Gleason. He received a standing ovation at a USO show in New York in 2006.

“I think all those young Marines are watching television,” he said.

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