Program Details

Jackie Gleason: "And Away We Go!" Beyond Ralph Kramden and The Honeymooners

Paul Offenkrantz
Comedy / History
Video Catch-up

Course Description

From his childhood in Brooklyn to his final years in South Florida, Jackie Gleason became one of the most influential and recognizable figures in entertainment. Known for his oversized personality and physique, Gleason moved seamlessly from physical comedy to serious drama. In addition to the iconic character of Ralph Kramden, Gleason made memorable dramatic appearances as Minnesota Fats in The Hustler (with Paul Newman), Maxwell Slaughter in Soldier in the Rain (with Steve McQueen), and as Tom Hank's father in Nothing in Common. He was also a prolific composer, director, and producer. His clout at CBS allowed him to bring  The Jackie Gleason Show to Miami Beach in 1964, where he attracted the biggest names in Hollywood to make guest appearances, rebooted sketches involving many of his beloved characters from earlier years and raised the profile of Miami Beach as the "Sun and Fun Capital of the World." Using rarely seen archival footage, we will explore the fascinating life and career of "The Great One" (a term bestowed upon Gleason by Orson Welles!).

About the Instructor

  • Paul Offenkrantz, D.M., a graduate of Oberlin College, attended the Yale School of Music and earned a Master of Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College, where he was also ordained as a cantor. In his distinguished career, he has served communities in New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and West Palm Beach. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Hebrew Union College and received rabbinic ordination from The Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute. He began singing professionally on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera at the age of nine and appeared in over 30 different operas at the MET over the course of five seasons. He has worked with Leonard Bernstein, Richard Tucker, Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, Jerome Robbins, George Balanchine, and many other important artists. He concertizes and lectures extensively throughout South Florida and is also an adjunct professor of Music History at the Conservatory of Music at Lynn University.