"The Great One," was born Herbert John Gleason (1916-1987) in Brooklyn, New York and is best remembered for his role as lovable bus driver Ralph Kramden on the classic CBS television show, The Honeymooners (1955).
"Does God have a sense of humor?" Gleason once asked. "He must have if He made us."
The beloved TV pioneer was a brilliant perfectionist who loved women and reading and golfed every day. When asked by talk show host Larry King if he liked challenges, Gleason replied, "No, I don't want challenges. I want to do something I can do and have fun with. What do you think, I want to go skiing because it's a challenge?"
Gleason was nominated for an Oscar for his excellent performance as Minnesota Fats in The Hustler (Paul Newman, 1961) and was Smokey to Burt Reynolds' Bandit three times. And in his last film, the poignant Nothing in Common (1986), Gleason portrayed Tom Hanks' abrasive father.
"Thin people are beautiful but fat people are adorable," explained the larger-than-life actor.
To honor pop culture's most famous bus driver, in August 2000, New York City unveiled an eight-foot, 1,000 pound bronze statue of Gleason at the entrance of the New York Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan.
"There's no pleasure being just a spoke in a wheel," admitted Gleason. "I'd rather be the whole wheel. I'm that much of a ham."
How sweet it is!