Jane Kean, best known for her role on the TV revival of The Honeymooners, died on Tuesday at the age of 90. Starring alongside Jackie Gleason in the hit TV show, Kean first worked with Gleason back in the 1940s. The two often appeared together on the vaudeville circuit.
Kean played the role of Ed Norton’s (played by Art Carney) wife Trixie on The Honeymooners, and will long be known for her big singing voice. She loved her work and often spoke in later years about the privilege of performing on such a show and working with someone like Gleason. Her chance to do so came in the form of a very unexpected phone call.
“One day she picked up the phone and he said, ‘Are you doing anything right now?’ and she said ‘No’ and he said ‘Come on down and be Trixie,'” Kean’s niece, Dierdre Wolpert said of Gleason. “Two weeks later she was on the plane to Florida.”
The rest–as they say–is history. Prior to Jane Kean’s 5-year run on The Honeymooners, she appeared in a few films produced by MGM. In the early 1950s she formed a comedy duo with her sister. They often played the same clubs as Milton Berle. After her time on The Honeymooners, Kean did a slew of guest appearances, performed in Las Vegas and did voice work. Her publisher, Alan Eichler, said she recently provided the voice for a children’s film called Abner the Pig.
Just last year, Jane Kean did her own one-woman show, during which she reflected on her life’s work. She revived it just a few months ago at Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. It certainly doesn’t sound like she was a ‘rocking chair’ kind of 90-year-old.
“This was a really kicking 90-year-old. The number of friends that she had, the people who loved her … she had a wonderful life and a wonderful career,” her niece says. “She was a glamour girl, but she also had a lot of substance.”
And what better way to make it to 90 years old? Without that substance, life becomes old, sad and just plain boring. It certainly sounds like Jane Kean’s was anything but that.
It’s clear from recent Twitter posts that Kean was still a beloved performer in many people’s eyes.
RIP, Jane Kean. Ms Kean played Trixie on The Honeymooners. She was 90.
— Vicki Lemonds (@Vicki_Lemonds) November 29, 2013
R.I.P. Jane Kean. a.k.a. Trixie of 'The Honeymooners'
— Ed (@BigEdOfSV) November 28, 2013
Sad news…my scheduled guest next week Jane Kean who played Trixie Norton in the classic TV show The… http://t.co/Ra4BHg4YdA
— Dr. Marissa Pei (@DrMarissaPei) November 27, 2013
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