- Richest Celebrities › Richest Comedians
- Net Worth:
- $10 Million
- Date of Birth:
- Feb 26, 1916 – Jun 24, 1987 (71 years old)
- Place of Birth:
- 5 ft 9 in (1.77 m)
- Actor, Musician, Television producer, Comedian, Film Score Composer, Film director, Screenwriter, Stunt Performer
- United States of America
💰 Compare Jackie Gleason’s Net Worth
- Early Life and Education
- Career Beginnings
- Film Career
- Television Career
- Stage Career
- Music Career
- Personal Life and Death
- UFO House
What was Jackie Gleason’s Net Worth?
Jackie Gleason was an American comedian and musician who had a net worth of $10 million at the time of his death in 1987. That’s the same as around $25 million today after adjusting for inflation.
Jackie Gleason is best known for playing irascible city bus driver Ralph Kramden on the television sitcom “The Honeymooners.” He also developed “The Jackie Gleason Show,” acted on stage, and appeared on the big screen in “The Hustler” and the “Smokey and the Bandit” films, among many other titles. Outside of acting, Gleason had a successful secondary career recording easy-listening music albums. Jackie Gleason died of colon cancer on June 24, 1987.
Early Life and Education
Jackie Gleason was born as Herbert Gleason Jr. on February 26, 1916 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City to Herbert Sr. and Mae. He was baptized as John Gleason, and had an older brother named Clement who passed away from meningitis at the age of 14. When Gleason was nine years old, his father abruptly left the family, and his mother went to work as a subway attendant. At this time, he started hanging with a local gang and hustling pool. Gleason received his education at PS 73 in Brooklyn, John Adams High School in Queens, and Bushwick High School back in Brooklyn. He ultimately quit school before graduating and took a job as a master of ceremonies at a local theater.
After his mother passed away from sepsis in 1935, Gleason had nowhere to go. Determined to make it in the big city, he moved into a hotel room shared by a friend and a comedian. Gleason’s friend told him about a comedy gig in Reading, Pennsylvania, which Gleason pursued. He ultimately landed the job, his first as a professional comedian. Going on to work at various small clubs, Gleason eventually worked his way up to a job at New York’s Club 18.
Gleason made his film debut at the age of 24 in the musical comedy “Navy Blues” in 1941. Later in the year, he was in the comedy “Steel Against the Sky.” In 1942, Gleason appeared in a whopping seven films, including “All Through the Night,” starring Humphrey Bogart; “Larceny, Inc.,” starring Edward G. Robinson; and “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,” in which he starred alongside Jack Durant and Florence Rice. Gleason didn’t appear on the big screen again until 1950, when he was in “The Desert Hawk.” In the intervening years, he had been exempted from military service due to an injury that never fully healed and the fact that he was significantly overweight.
Gleason gave one of his most acclaimed performances in 1961, playing pool shark Minnesota Fats in “The Hustler.” For his work, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Gleason subsequently wrote and starred in the 1962 comedy “Gigot,” and starred in the drama “Requiem for a Heavyweight” the same year. He went on to star in such comedies as “Papa’s Delicate Condition,” “Soldier in the Rain,” “Skidoo,” “How to Commit Marriage,” “Don’t Drink the Water,” and “How Do I Love Thee?” After a seven-year break from film, Gleason returned in 1977 with “Mr. Billion” and “Smokey and the Bandit.” The latter was a huge hit, spawning two sequels, with Gleason reprising his role as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in both of them. For his final film role, Gleason starred opposite Tom Hanks in 1986’s “Nothing in Common.”
Gleason had his breakthrough in 1949 as the star of the first television version of the radio comedy “The Life of Riley.” The following year, he began hosting the DuMont Television Network’s variety show “Cavalcade of Stars.” Soon renamed “The Jackie Gleason Show,” the program became a massive hit with audiences, running until 1970. During the early years of the show’s run, Gleason became even more popular due to his role as cantankerous bus driver Ralph Kramden on the sitcom “The Honeymooners,” which originally aired from 1955 to 1956. His character, largely inspired by his harsh Brooklyn upbringing, had originated on “The Jackie Gleason Show” in a recurring comedy sketch. On “The Honeymooners,” Gleason starred alongside Art Carney, who played his best friend Ed Norton, and Audrey Meadows, who played his wife Alice. Notably, Gleason developed the famous catchphrases “One of these days, Alice, pow! Right in the kisser!,” and “Bang! Zoom! To the moon Alice, to the moon!”
After the original run of “The Honeymooners,” Gleason hosted the short-lived game show “You’re in the Picture,” which was canceled after a single episode. He went on to revive “The Honeymooners” in various capacities over the years, even producing color episodes in the late 1960s. In the 70s, Gleason revived a number of his famous characters in a television special with Julie Andrews. He continued making frequent appearances on television until shortly before his passing, often showing up as a guest on talk shows and in various specials. Gleason also acted in some television films, such as “Mr. Halpern and Mr. Johnson” and “Izzy and Moe,” the latter with his “Honeymooners” costar Art Carney.
On stage, Gleason first acted in the musical revue “Keep Off the Grass” in 1940. A couple years later, he and Lew Parker led a large cast of entertainers in a road show production of “Hellzapoppin.” Gleason’s first major recognition as a stage performer came in 1944, when he appeared in the hit musical “Follow the Girls.” He was subsequently in “The Duchess Misbehaves,” “Heaven on Earth,” and “Along Fifth Avenue.” In 1959, Gleason starred in the original production of the musical “Take Me Along,” and won a Tony Award for his work. He returned to the stage nearly two decades later to star in a production of the play “Sly Fox.”
Alongside his acting, Gleason had a successful music career in the 1950s and 60s making easy-listening albums for Capitol Records. His first album, 1952’s “Music for Lovers Only,” still holds the record for the longest time spent in the top ten of the Billboard 200, at 153 weeks. Gleason had further success with such albums as “Lover’s Rhapsody,” “Music to Make You Misty,” “And Awaaay We Go!,” and “Music, Martinis and Memories,” all of which reached number one on the Billboard 200. He continued making albums through 1972.
Personal Life and Death
Gleason was married a total of three times. He was wed to his first wife, dancer Genevieve Halford, from 1936 until their divorce in 1970; during that time, they separated and got back together twice, and had two daughters named Geraldine and Linda. During the second period of separation in the early 50s, Gleason had an affair with his secretary Honey Merrill. He married his second wife, Beverly McKittrick, in 1970; they divorced in 1975. Gleason subsequently married the widowed Marilyn Taylor, with whom he remained until his passing.
A chronic smoker and a diabetic, Gleason had health issues throughout much of his life. Toward the end of his life, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, which had spread to his liver. Gleason passed away in June of 1987 at his home in Lauderhill, Florida; he was 71 years of age.
In the early 1950s Jackie built a truly one-of-a-kind property in Cortlandt Manor, New York that is known as Jackie Gleason’s UFO house or Jackie’s spaceship house.
Tapping a lifelong fascination with aliens, the paranormal and UFOs, Jackie hired a Frank Lloyd Write disciple to build a two circular structures in the shape of spaceships on the 8.5-acre property. The living room, bedrooms, shower and even built-in beds were all circular.
The construction took five years to build, lasting from 1954 to 1959. The structures were prefabricated off-site by a shipbuilder then re-constructed, piece by piece on the property. The structures had central air conditioning which was highly unusual for personal homes at the time.
Jackie hosted Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and Jo DiMaggio for parties at the home. In Audrey Meadows’ (his “Honeymooners” co-star) autobiography, she described being confused by a round hole in the marble floor next to the piano in the home’s living room. She was amazed when Jackie pressed a button on the wall and a microphone would seamlessly rise from the floor. That microphone was connected to a one-of-a-kind state-of-the art built-in sound system.
The house was decorated with the finest Italian marble throughout, including a 40-foot, three-sided fireplace. He required so much Italian marble that he actually bought a quarry in Italy to ensure supplies. He also flew the marble craftsman from Italy to live at the property during construction.
All-in Jackie spent $650,000 on the project. That’s the same as spending around $7 million in today’s dollars.
Here is a video tour of the Jackie’s UFO house from 2018 when it was listed for sale:
And here is a video of Joe Rogan discussing the home on his podcast:
The primary structure, known as “The Mothership,” features two bedrooms, two bathrooms, two bars and large entertaining area. The secondary structure which he called the “Scout Ship,” was a guest house that had two swimming pools a recording studio.
Between all structures Jackie Gleason’s UFO house has 7,500 square feet of living space, five bedrooms, six bathrooms, a library, card room and more.
When he moved to Miami in the 1960s, CBS bought the property from Gleason. In 1969 CBS sold the home to a private buyer. In 1974 that owner donated the home to nearby Pace University which intended to use the home as a conference retreat. Those plans fell through and Pace sold the property through a newspaper ad to the current owner, an orthodontist.
In July 2018 the current owner listed the property for sale for $12 million. The listing was eventually pulled without a buyer.