John Herbert "Jackie" Gleason (February 26, 1916 - June 24, 1987) was an American comedian, actor and musician. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, exemplified by his character Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners. Among his
notable film roles were Minnesota Fats in the 1961 drama The Hustler (starring Paul Newman) and Buford T. Justice in the Smokey and the Bandit series.
Gleason disliked rehearsing. With a photographic memory he read the script once, watched a rehearsal with his co-stars and stand-in, and shot the show later that day. When he made mistakes, he often blamed the cue cards. During the 1950s he was a
semi-regular guest on a paranormal-themed overnight radio show hosted by John Nebel, and wrote the introduction to Donald Bain's biography of Nebel. After his death, his large book collection was donated to the library of the University of Miami.
For many years, Gleason would only travel by train; his fear of flying arose from an incident when he had only minor movie roles. Gleason would fly to Los Angeles for movie work, then back to New York when his roles were completed. After finishing one of his movies, the comedian boarded a plane for New York. Two of the plane's engines cut out, and the pilot made an emergency landing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Gleason smoked four packs of cigarettes a day. In 1978 when he suffered chest pains, forcing him to leave the show in Chicago and undergo triple-bypass surgery. Gleason delivered a critically acclaimed performance in the comedy-drama Nothing in Common
(1986). It was Gleason's final film role, since he was suffering from colon cancer, liver cancer, and thrombosed hemorrhoids. On June 24, 1987, Gleason died at his Florida home. (Source: wikipedia.org)