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The Story Behind the Lost Episodes
A few months after the "Lost Episodes" were "found" there was a press conference held at the 21 Club in New York City. Guests included Jackie Gleason, Audrey Meadows, and Joyce Randolph. Unfortunately, Art Carney was unable to attend due to a bad case of the flu. Below is an excerpt from the conference that may shed some light on where these episodes were and how they were found.
Excerpts from the 21
Club "Lost Episodes" Press Conference
Held on February 6th, 1985 in New York City
Reporter: How did the shows get into someone's
vault, and whose vault was it?
Gleason: Well, we always received a copy of the show. That was in my contract.
Reporter: Were these your personal copies?
Gleason: These are my personal copies.
Reporter: You knew they were there all along,
Gleason: Yes. I certainly did.
Reporter: Why were they in the vault so long?
Gleason: No one asked for anything. And we had them there, nice, stacked up, in an air-conditioned room... waiting for the phone to ring. And, finally, it rang, and... that's why we're here tonight.
Reporter: Did you expect to wait thirty years,
though, to release them?
Gleason: I don't know. We really didn't think about it... until Ralph found them on the back seat of the bus. (Laughter)
Reporter: Was it routine procedure to do kinescopes
on all these, or did you have some personal involvement in preserving these
Gleason: No. They made kinescopes because an hour later they showed in Chicago, and they had to use kinescopes. And, of course, three hours later in California.
Reporter: How did you like seeing yourself? (i.e.,
in the "lost episodes" segments just shown.)
Gleason: Well, I guess I was pretty funny, then.
Reporter: Are you funny? Were you funny?
Gleason: Yeah! Except Art might have been a little funnier. And Audrey got a couple of laughs there that I didn't remember.
Reporter: How did Ralph develop? Was he within
Gleason: Well, there were a thousand Ralphs living in my neighborhood when I was a kid. And a couple of hundred Nortons. So it wasn't so difficult.
Reporter: Is this a different Ralph in these earlier
Gleason: No, it's the same... the same poor soul.
So you see, Jackie Gleason had them all along and knew exactly where they were. Everyone spent years looking for these films. Television libraries and storage warehouses were searched time and time again with no luck, but nobody ever thought of asking Jackie Gleason. All it took was one phone call to Mr. Gleason and the mystery was solved. Not only did Gleason have the films, he had them in an air-conditioned vault in his house in Florida so that they wouldn't decay. I have but one thing to say....... "YOU SNEAK". Although most of the film was useable, time had taken it's toll on some of it. Thanks to modern technology, these films were reproduced to fit a television screen and most are now being broadcast on a regular basis in many parts of the U.S.. Some of the episodes are only available on video tape.