Jane Kean, who played in ‘Honeymooners’ revival, dies at 90

November 29, 2013

Jane Kean, best known for her role as Trixie, the long-suffering wife of Ed Norton, in the 1960s TV revival of “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, died Nov. 26 at a hospital in Burbank, Calif. She was 90.

The cause was complications from a fall, her family said. Ms. Kean lived in the Toluca Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Although she played diverse roles during a career spanning more than four decades, including performing at London’s Palladium before moving to Broadway, Ms. Kean said her role in “The Honeymooners” was the character most people remembered.

“The Honeymooners,” which started as a sketch on “The Jackie Gleason Show” in the early 1950s, starred Gleason as Ralph Kramden, a struggling New York bus driver who lived in a cramped apartment with his wife, Alice (Audrey Meadows). Carney played Norton, Kramden’s dim-witted neighbor and best friend. Norton was married to Trixie (originally played by Joyce Randolph), who was Alice’s best friend.

Ms. Kean first started working with Gleason in the 1940s, when they were on the vaudeville circuit. They appeared in several stage productions in the 1950s.


Actress Jane Kean on July 9, 2013, in Hollywood, Calif. (Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images North America)

She joined the cast of “The Honeymooners” in 1966 as Trixie when Gleason moved to Miami Beach for another version of “The Jackie Gleason Show,” where he revived “The Honeymooners” for new sketches that reunited him with Carney. Sheila MacRae took the role of Alice.

Those “Honeymooners” segments expanded to an hour and were crafted as musical comedies, with several original songs within each installment. The cast also appeared in a 1976 ABC special, “The Honeymooners — The Second Honeymoon.”

Born April 10, 1923, in Hartford, Conn., Ms. Kean first started working professionally on stage in the 1940s. She appeared in starring roles on Broadway in the 1950s in shows such as “The Pajama Game” and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” In the latter, she replaced Jayne Mansfield.

During the 1950s, she teamed up with her sister Betty for a popular nightclub act that blended singing, dance and comedy. The sisters performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and had a successful run at the London Palladium.

Ms. Kean also did voice-over work for commercials and in animated movies such as “Pete’s Dragon” (1977) and TV specials, including “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol” (1962).

From the 1980s, she performed at colleges, on cruise ships, at dinner theaters and on what she called Florida’s “condo circuit.”

— Los Angeles Times

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