Linda Ballard

Linda Ballard

Who would have thought the works of  Jackie Gleason, an American comedian,  actor, writer, composer and conductor would have such an impact in Kilgore, but last month a very important piece of equipment spawned by one of  his ideas arrived at the Texas Museum of Broadcasting & Communications.

Gleason learned at an early age, “If you want to make it kid, you have to make it on your own,” which is exactly what he did. His catchy phrases became his trademark and included “How sweet it is!” which he used in reaction to almost anything.

When others were without work during the Depression of 1934, Gleason could be seen working two or three theaters at a time.  By 1941 he began making films with Warner Brothers during the day and at night worked the supper clubs. He signed on with CBS in 1951 and The Jackie Gleason Show, a live broadcast, began airing. As his ratings soared, Jackie became known as “Mr. Saturday Night.”

He disliked rehearsing and with a photographic memory, he read the script once, watched the rehearsal and then stepped in for the final showing.

“The Honeymooners” originated from a sketch Gleason was developing with his shows. “One of these days, Alice, pow, right in the kisser,’ was another phrase born from the lips of Gleason at this time.

In 1955, Gleason gambled on making “The Honeymooners” a separate series entirely. The “Classic 39” episodes were filmed with a Dumont Process, Electronicam. This device allowed the DuMont Network to air a live TV broadcast and also record each camera on 16 or 35mm film for eventual editing and distribution. Gleason received the credit for the idea and changing the filming industry.

“The Honeymooners” led him to fame, but not without his secondary career of music, where he also produced 20 single and 43 albums. Later, his comedic talent in movies such as “Smokey and the Bandit” helped to make the films a big success.  The list of his talents go on and on depicting a feat accomplished for three men

Gleason died of colon cancer on June 24, 1987, but, not without making his mark in this world.

There only two of the Electronicams left in the world, one of which was donated to the Texas Museum of Broadcasting & Communications in Kilgore. It is 72 inches by 54 inches and weighs 550 lbs. It arrived June 11 with the entire Camera Control Unit and is ready to be hooked up for use by Phil Patterson and Chuck Conrad.

“How sweet it is,” Gleason would most likely say. To hear the rest of the story and see the Elecotonicam and other rare finds,  the museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.  Tours can be arranged by calling 903-985-8115 and is located at 416 E. Main St., Kilgore, TX.  

THE FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF DANVILLE will be hosting a garage sale on Friday, July 12, and Saturday, July 13. Cancer patient Stacey Grafton will receive part of the proceeds from sales with the remainder going to their Children’s Ministry. Please plan on attending from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Saturday. They are located at 229 Utzman Road. For further information contact Anita at 903-646-6152.

HOTDOGS on the Fourth of July! Yes! I found hotdogs and the winner is (in my opinion only) the City of Overton who offered grilled beef franks on warm buns with the second -runner up being the Lion’s Club in Kilgore who offered chili with their fare. It would have been first place if the chili had been warmer and Randy Renshaw would have been there.

We don’t recall a time over the years, Randy was not at a Lion’s Club activity, but this time his mother took precedence. Betty Renshaw fell and suffered a broken hip. Randy was busy getting her the best of medical attention.  Please keep Betty in your prayers for speedy recovery.

Hats off to Betty Baker, who made it more fun this year, by being the first to invite me to her house for the “best hotdog ever” and then promptly ate it when she saw I was busy with other activities. In a message on the fifth, she declared it the winner and claimed she couldn’t tell me the secrets of what made it the best until I purchased her cookbook upon completion! It is a deal, Betty, get it done.

May His Love and Laughter Fill Your Hearts and Your Homes Throughout the week. We may be reached at or 903-984-2593.


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