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Pert Kelton

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The Resume

    (October 14, 1907-October 30, 1968)
    Born in Great Falls, Montana
    Vaudeville performer
    Movie, radio and television actress
    Married to radio actor/writer, Ralph Bell
    Performed in a dozen Broadway productions between 1925 and 1968
    Made her Broadway debut at age 17 in Jerome Kern's 'Sunny' (1925)
    Semi-regular voice actress for the popular radio programs 'Easy Aces,' 'It's Always Albert,' 'The Stu Erwin Show,' and 'We Are Always Young'
    Acted in 'Bed of Roses,' 'You Can't Take it With You,' 'Bowery,' 'Annie Oakely,' 'Sing and Like It,' 'Cain and Mabel,' 'The Hit Parade,' and 'The Music Man'
    Best known as the original actress to portray Alice Kramden in 'The Honeymooners' comedy sketches, opposite Jackie Gleason, on the DuMont Television Network's 'Cavalcade of Stars' (1951)
    Also known as for her portrayal of Marian Paroo's mother in Meredith Willson's The Music Man (1957), on Broadway; a role which she reprised in the 1962 film adaptation of the same name, playing mother to Shirley Jones

Why she might be annoying:

    She began her career at the age of three.
    Her first name is now a term used to describe women's breasts being 'perky.'
    She was typecast in supporting roles during her 1930s film career, usually as the wisecracking 'best friend' to the leading lady, or worse yet the 'whore with the heart of gold.'
    She was co-owner of the Warner Kelton Hotel in Los Angeles, which doubled as a speakeasy during Prohibition, which was run out of its basement.
    Her last major role was the Spic and Span cleaning lady on the product's popular line of TV commercials.
    Her version of Alice Kramden was a hot-tempered battle-axe; far more brash and physically abrasive than the comparably sweet but firm/reserved Audrey Meadows.
    One IMDb reviewer of the series commented on Kelton by calling her 'just the kind of wife Ralph Kramden would wind up with in real life' (whereas Meadows offered a pointed contrast to Gleason).
    She lost the role of Alice due to the blacklisting of her husband, which by association affected her own career (the reason publicly given was that her health was poor).

Why she might not be annoying:

    She was a regular in old Hal Roach comedy shorts.
    She did five different voice characters on radio's The Milton Berle Show.
    She was twice nominated for Best Supporting/Featured Actress in a Musical Tony Awards; for her performances in Frank Loesser's 'Greenwillow' (1960) and Spofford (1967–68).
    She was cast as Alice Kramden after working with writer Harry Crane in the Broadway show 'All in Fun,' along with Imogene Coca.
    She was dropped as Alice while she was on tour with Gleason and Art Carney.
    In the frantic rush to find another actress on the road, Ginger Jones was called in as a replacement, but she refused multiple times before agreeing. She allegedly said 'you must tell Mr. Gleason there's no way I can be anything like Pert. He isn't to expect it. No one can come close to the way she does that role.'
    Her scenes with Jackie Gleason as Ralph on 'Calvacade' were much darker and more realistic than the later CBS version. At times it almost seemed like viewers were watching the two fight through a peephole.
    She remained on 'Calvacade,' however, throughout its final 1952 season as a player in various comedy sketches (this was later explained by Gleason's unwillingness to comply with studio blacklist pressures).
    Appropriately, Jackie Gleason invited her back to CBS to play Ralph Kramden's overbearing mother-in-law in the 1966 full-color, hour-long TV musical version of The Honeymooners, this time with Sheila MacRae as Alice.
    Her original 5-10 minute 'Calvacade' sketches were long believed to have been lost or destroyed, but between 1984 and 1986, Jackie Gleason slowly saw to the release of the famed 'lost episodes,' which were actually kinescopes of sketches from his private vault - this including the episodes from 1951-1952 on 'Calvacade.'

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair

Featured in the following Annoying Collections:

Year In Review:

    In 2023, Out of 1 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2022, Out of 3 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2021, Out of 9 Votes: 88.89% Annoying
    In 2020, Out of 6 Votes: 33.33% Annoying
    In 2019, Out of 8 Votes: 50.0% Annoying
    In 2018, Out of 3 Votes: 0% Annoying
    In 2017, Out of 5 Votes: 60.0% Annoying
    In 2016, Out of 12 Votes: 33.33% Annoying