An absolute perfectionist. And an absolute fascination, borderline obsession with the paranormal. Parapsychology and UFO’s. He built his house in the shape of Spaceship. He ended the introduction to each show with the classic ”And awaaay we go!”. To where? Jackie Gleason. Much more than the brash visual and comic style that marked the early days of television.
Everything Gleason did, he did with great passion. Every script for the TV shows had to be just the way he envisioned it.He produced most of his shows. No one was ever allowed to step out of character. Camera shots and angles were always set up the way he wanted them. The passion also extended into his personal life. Fascinated by Flying Saucers and the unexplained, he ultimately assembled one of the world’s greatest parapsychology, UFO and occult libraries. ( Bill Knell)
Gleason inhabited a world based on a different perspective due to an immersion into the realm of the mysterious. According to Gleason’s second wife, Beverly McKittrick, he told her that U.S. president Richard Nixon took him on a secret visit to Homestead air force base in 1973 . there, Gleason allegedly saw an alien spaceship, Roswell debris and dead extra-terrestrials which left him shaken and also plunged him further into his study of these phenomenon.
Beverly Gleason alleges Jackie came home visibly shaken and on the verge of a breakdown. Though Gleason neither confirmed nor denied the story when investigators inquired, there was an independent confirmation of Beverly Gleason’s story.
… grief, anger and a wounded class conscious sensibility defined Gleason’s Rudy the Repairman character which manifested itself in a bombastic assault on the well-to-do. The Reginald Van Gleason the 3rd. portrayal was the the antithesis; a playboy millionaire who suffered from ideleness which brought on or exasperated allergies at the slightest mention of the word ”work”. Both characters inhabited a world of imagination, invention and fantasy, an existence at odds with the world around them. Yet, both figures are fearless and live their proper truth rather than inhabiting the shadows of truth or playing around its edges.
”… Gleason, who had just glanced at my script, was doing every line perfect. He didn’t miss or flub a word. He was hilarious. Everybody in the bar was laughing their heads off. What had been absolute chaos only an hour ago was comedy at its finest. I had to be working with a genius…
… Sometimes there was no script at all. On one occasion he threw the writers’ efforts into the trash bin and sat down with his co-stars and a typewriter to work something up on their own. They started pouring drinks and two hours later, with minutes before they were to go on live TV, they had the title and nothing else but a good buzz. So they ad-libbed. And it turned out to
he funniest show of the first season.”
It hard to explain results without rehearsals or script study. Almost complete improvisation in an era of live television. He invented camera angles and movements heretofore unknown and created dance steps that had not been invented. he could quote Shakespeare by heart without any study.
”Jackie would again display his prodigious knowledge of Shakespeare’s work during a drunken argument with theatre critic Brooks Atkinson at Toots Shor’s. Atkinson, playing down Gleason’s Broadway performances, declared that no actor was worth a damn until he could do Hamlet. Jackie pushed his way to the center of the bar and, thoroughly smashed on scotch, delivered the entire soliloquy from Hamlet without fumbling a single word. Witnesses swore Barrymore couldn’t have done it better.”