Born on February 8th, 1926 in Wu Chang, China, to missionary parents, Audrey Meadows spoke nothing but Chinese until she came to the United States with her family. She was going to study for a career in journalism until her sister Jayne persuaded her to try show business. She made her debut as a coloratura soprano at Carnegie Hall when she was sixteen, and later moved to TV on 'The Bob and Ray Show'. Meadows was headliningin the Broadway hit 'Top Banana' when she heard that Gleason was casting for the part of Alice in 'The Honeymooners'.
Later television work included, in addition to The Honeymooners, guest appearances with Sid Caesar, Red Skelton, Jack Benny, George Gobel, and Carol Burnett, as well as straight dramatic acting in every major television playhouse production. She was named "TV's Most Promising Star of 1953" by the editors of Television magazine; she was awarded an Emmy in 1954 for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal as Alice Kramden. Her motion picture work includes features with Doris Day, James Stewart, Rosalind Russell, and Cary Grant. Late in her life, Audrey left show business behind; She served as the first woman director of the First National Bank of Denver, and as honorary vice president of sales for Continental Airlines (she created the interior styling of the first-class section of Continental's DC-10s, from rug design to ceiling decor).
Audrey Meadows joined The Honeymooners when the show left the DuMont network for CBS in 1952, after having to persuade a skeptical Jackie Gleason that she could look frumpy and bone-tired. Gleason thought she was too young and attractive for the part so she hired a photographer to take pictures of her at her most disheveled and rushed them over to Jackie. The shots won him over and she remained with the show until it left New York, returning once in 1966 for the last black-and-white Honeymooners ("The Adoption," broadcast from Miami), and for the ABC specials. Audrey Meadows passed away due to lung cancer on February 3rd, 1996 -- five days before her 70th birthday.
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