Great Non-Rehearser, The

The showbiz nickname of comedian Jackie Gleason who starred on CAVALCADE OF STARS/DUM/1949-52, THE JACKIE GLEASON SHOW/CBS/1952-70, and THE HONEYMOONERS/CBS/1955-56.


He earned his nickname because he was known to hate rehearsing long hours in preparation for his comedy routines. Fortunately, his photographic memory enabled him to commit an entire script to memory in a matter of a couple hours. The chemistry among his talented cast was so spontaneous that his lack of rehearsal was never a real handicap.

Rarely, during a live performance did Gleason forget a line. However, when this happened he had prearranged codes for his actors to pick up on. One code was rubbing his stomach in a circular motion. When used, the cast would ad-lib their parts and help save the scene.

Once during moment of confusion on the set of THE HONEYMOONERS Gleason left the stage via the bedroom door. Audrey Meadows then casually walked off set looking to find Jackie. This left Art Carney alone on the stage.

Undaunted Carney began to look in the prop refrigerator on the set and found an orange. Sitting down at the Kramden’s kitchen table, he skillfully peeled the orange for the next few minutes. His quick thinking saved the scene and the audience was none the wiser.

See also – “The Rock”


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Greensboro, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Showbiz Nicknames

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