Jackie Gleason …” to him, life was not a brute struggle of survival and endurance; it was a contest to see who could squeeze the most excess and joy from every passing moment, to spin into gold each waning day. Jackie was 40 years old now and he had no interest whatsoever in living moderately so he could later solemnly tack grey moments onto the tail end of a long monotonous march to the grave.”
At the height of his financial success, he walked away from the hit series he created, The Honeymooners, leaving his fee of seven million dollars on the table. The need to plunge into the unknown, and to avoid a confrontation with self were stronger and more persuasive than monetary reward for his entertainment genius. Creatively, he was correct in stating that he had pushed the concept of the Honeymooners to its limit and logical conclusion. Any additional time would be artistic overkill. Almost intuitively, he decided to film his season (1955) , known as The 39 Episodes or The Perfect Season, rather than tape them, thus preserving them and creating a steady income from syndication of which he pioneered the concept.
”The real reason, he would later reveal, was this: he was terminally bored. What was the point, he mused, of being comfortably successful? Certainly not the money, he threw that away like it gave him a rash. Creatively the show gave him no pleasure, Ralph Cramden was by necessity an unchanging constant—if one of Ralph’s wild schemes ever did succeed, he would no longer be Ralph Cramden.”
”To him The Honeymooners had become a merry-go-round, a nice, safe ride, and there was nothing Jackie loathed more than the easy gig. He was suspicious of facile success. He always felt he was at his best when he was struggling to stay afloat in a raging sea of uncertainty; once life’s waters became calm the sharks of his deep-seated insecurities began to circle.”
Gleason’s childhood traumas probably or certainly influenced his proclivity for the paranormal and the component of being driven to fantasy as means of escape. Certainly, his alcohol abuse was one facet of this, part of the larger spectrum of dissociative tendencies, that is, a habitual proneness to fragment and structurally separate mental processes that ordinarily would be integrated. Studies show that people with a marked fantasy life are not only creative but also highly susceptible to hypnosis and exhibit a cognitive style that does not preclude out of body experiences.
The thought processes underlying paranormal belief are not well understood, though in Gleason’s case, the issue of a deep seated social alienation may be partly responsible for some of his creative projections. His trademark ”How Sweet it8221; line, could have been directed at his own beautiful soul.