1974 studio portrait
Jane Kean, best known for her role as Trixie, the long-suffering wife of Ed Norton on the 1960s TV revival of “The Honeymooners” with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, has died. She was 90.
Kean, of Toluca Lake, died Tuesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, due to complications from a fall at her home. Her niece, Deidre Wolpert, confirmed Kean’s death.
“The Honeymooners,” which began 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 who was married to Trixie (originally played by Joyce Randolph), who was Alice’s best friend.
During a career spanning more than four decades she played a wide range of roles, including performing at London’s Palladium before moving to Broadway. Nevertheless, Kean said her role in “The Honeymooners” was the character that most people remembered. “There’s something about the show – people relate to it,” Kean said in a 1991 interview with The Times. “People believed the show was real, and that we really were the characters we played.”
Kean first started working with Gleason in the 1940s, when they were both on the vaudeville circuit. They also appeared in several stage productions in the 1950s. 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 on the role of Alice.
Jane Kean (“Trixie”) and Art Carney (“Ed Norton”)
Born April 10, 1923, in Hartford, Connecticut, Kean first started working professionally in the 1940s on stage. She appeared in starring roles on Broadway in the 1950s in shows such as “The Pajama Game” and “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?” in which she replaced Jayne Mansfield. During the 1950s, she also teamed up with her sister Betty for a popular nightclub act that combineded singing, dance and comedy. The sisters performed on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and had a successful run at the London Palladium.
Kean’s first marriage, to Richard Linkroum, ended in divorce. She later married her manager, Joe Hecht. He died in 2006. Her sister Betty died in 1986. Besides Wolpert, Betty Kean’s daughter, Jane Kean is survived by Wolpert’s husband and two children, along with a stepson, Joseph Hecht Jr., and his son.
“The Honeymooners” cast – (L to R) Art Carney, Audrey Meadows, Jane Kean, Jackie Gleason