Art Carney, Actor and TV Icon, Dies at 85
Though best known for his Emmy Award-winning role as sewer worker Ed Norton on the classic 1950s television comedy series The Honeymooners, Carney has a major place in theatrical history for having originated the role of Felix Ungar opposite Walter Matthau's Oscar Madison in the original 1965 Broadway production of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple.
Born on November 4, 1918 in Mount Vernon, New York, Carney had little formal training in acting or comedy. He had bit parts in film, radio, and television before finding work on Jackie Gleason's Cavalcade of Stars; he worked up a number of characters on that TV variety show, including one that would eventually become Ed Norton.
After The Honeymooners ended its run, Carney reprised the role of Ed Norton and played many other characters on The Jackie Gleason Show. His numerous TV credits also include small screen versions of the Ethel Merman stage musical Panama Hattie in 1958 and the classic Kaufman and Hart stage comedy You Can't Take it With You in 1979, plus Terrible Joe Moran in 1984, The Cavenaughs, and Where Pigeons Go to Die.
Carney received a Tony Award nomination for his role in the 1968 play Lovers. He also appeared on Broadway in The Rope Dancers, Take Her, She's Mine, Flora, The Red Menace, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue. He won an Academy Award for his performance in the 1974 film Harry and Tonto, and his subsequent movie credits include Firestarter, The Muppets Take Manhattan, and The Last Action Hero. In 1990, Carney received an award for lifetime achievement in comedy at the American Comedy Awards.