Art Carney (1918 - 2003)

A photo of Art Carney
Art (-) Carney
1918 - 2003
updated October 22, 2019
Art Carney was born on November 4, 1918 in Mount Vernon, New York. He was born into the - family and married into the Carney family. He died on November 9, 2003 in Chester, Connecticut at 85 years old.

Art Carney
Born November 4, 1918 in Mount Vernon, New York, USA
Died November 9, 2003 in Chester, Connecticut, USA
Birth Name Arthur William Matthew Carney
Nickname Mr. C
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)
Art Carney was born on November 4, 1918 in Mount Vernon, New York, USA as Arthur William Matthew Carney. He was an actor, known for Firestarter (1984), Harry and Tonto (1974) and Last Action Hero (1993). He was married to Jean Wilson Myers (remarried), Barbara Carney and Jean Wilson Myers. He died on November 9, 2003 in Chester, Connecticut, USA.
Spouse (3)
Jean Wilson Myers (remarried) (10 March 1979 - 9 November 2003) (his death)
Barbara Carney (22 December 1966 - 1977) ( divorced)
Jean Wilson Myers (15 August 1940 - 1965) ( divorced) ( 3 children)
Brother of actor/director Fred Carney.
Father of actor Brian Carney.
"Art Carney Meets the Sorcerer's Apprentice" on The ABC TV Network. The show aired in the early 1960s.
He was a voice-over regular on the popular 1930s radio series "Gangbusters", which featured weekly episodes based on actual crime incidents. Each program ended with various descriptions of wanted criminals, many of whom were later arrested owing to avid listener participation.
The voice of Red Lantern on radio's "The Land of the Lost" was originally done by Junius Matthews, who did a great number of movies around that time. This show overlapped with his schedule, so it was taken over by Art Carney.
Originated the role of Felix Unger (opposite Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison) in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" on Broadway in 1965.
Won a talent contest in elementary school and another at A.B. Davis High School, in Mount Vernon, from which he graduated in 1936. Had only a high school education, no formal training and never took an acting class.
A wound in the leg while serving as a World War II infantryman left one leg slightly shorter and gave Carney a noticeable limp for the rest of his life.
Won the Academy Award for playing the 72-year-old Harry Coombes in the sentimental film Harry and Tonto (1974). He was only 55 at the time but used makeup, grew a mustache, whitened his hair and stopped masking his limp.
Suffered a nervous breakdown over the end of his 25-year marriage to wife Jean owing to his addictions to alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates. After recovering fully in the 1970s, he won not only an Academy Award but also his wife: They remarried.
He talked his way into a job with the popular Horace Heidt Orchestra and went on the road for more than three years, doing impressions, novelty songs, and some announcing for Heidt's radio show "Pot o' Gold". In 1941, when the orchestra was asked to make a movie, Carney was handed a small role. He also specialized in dialects.
Jackie Gleason once stated that Carney was 90% responsible for the success of The Honeymooners (1955).
He was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6627 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California, on February 8, 1960.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1969 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic) for Brian Friel's "Lovers".
In a case of art (no pun intended) imitating life, the last words he ever spoke on-screen were his characters dying words: "I'm outta here..." in the action-comedy-fantasy film Last Action Hero (1993).
Before playing Ed Norton on The Honeymooners (1955), Carney played a policeman who gets hit by a barrel of flour in the first Honeymooners sketch on The Jackie Gleason Show (1952).
Beat out Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Albert Finney and Al Pacino to win his first and only Best Actor Oscar for Harry and Tonto (1974).
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 63-65. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
In playing the 72-year-old Harry Coombes in Harry and Tonto (1974), the 55-year-old Carney convinced director Paul Mazursky by growing his own mustache, whitening his hair, wearing his own hearing aid and not trying to mask the limp he received from a World War II injury.
It was while appearing in "The Odd Couple" on Broadway that Carney suffered a nervous breakdown brought on by the failure of his twenty-five-year first marriage. He was forced to leave the play and enter a sanitarium for nearly six months.
First appeared as Ed Norton, the foil for star Jackie Gleason's character Ralph Kramden, when The Honeymooners (1955) was a regular skit between 1951 and 1952 on the DuMont Network's television program Cavalcade of Stars (1949).
His radio role as Philly on "The Joe and Ethel Turp Show" foreshadowed his Honeymooners characterization of Ed Norton.
Through his brother Jack, a musical booking agent, Carney landed his first show-business job in 1936, as a mimic and novelty singer for Horace Heidt's band. Due to this association with Heidt, he made his unbilled film debut with Pot o' Gold (1941) as a band member and radio announcer.
Appears as Ed Norton, with Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden, on a 44¢ USA commemorative postage stamp in the Early TV Memories issue honoring The Honeymooners (1955). The stamp was issued 11 August 2009.

Art (-) Carney Biography

With today's technology we are able to write and share our own history which lasts forever online. Our ancestors never had a chance to document their lives. This biography is dedicated to memorialize the life of Art Carney, honor his ancestry & genealogy, and his immediate Carney family.

Most Commonly Known Name

Art Carney

First name


Middle name


Last Name(s)

Nickname(s) or aliases

Arthur William Matthew Carney
Mister C.




Art Carney was born on in Mount Vernon, Westchester County, New York United States


Art Carney died on in Chester, Middlesex County, Connecticut United States

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Carney joined The Lambs, the historic theater club, in 1960. Also a member there was fellow Honeymooner Joyce Randolph, who is still a member; Joyce's husband was the Lambs' president for 11 years.
Prior to his death, he had been retired for more than a decade, living a quiet life at his home in Westbrook, Connecticut. [November 2003]
Following his death, he was interred at Riverside Cemetery at Old Saybrook, Conneticut.
Has three children with Jean Myers: Eileen Carney (born 1942), Brian Carney (born 1946) and Paul Carney (born 1952).
His maternal grandparents were Irish immigrants, and his father was also of Irish descent.
Was briefly linked to Bebe Kelly (an actress) in the mid 70's.
The Carney Awards, named after Art Carney, have been awarded annually since 2015 for "Outstanding Achievement in Character Acting". It is a lifetime achievement award, not given for specific performances.
Personal Quotes (5)
I love Ed Norton and what he did for my career. But the truth is that we couldn't have been more different. Norton was the total extrovert, there was no way you could put down his infectious good humor. Me? I'm a loner and a worrier.
I don't tell jokes, and if I tried, I couldn't hold an audience's attention for five minutes.
An actor can survive a bad play, particularly if his performance is well received. But a bad movie...
[during an interview with columnist Earl Wilson] How would you like to go through life with your name synonymous with sewage?
[on his role as Ed Norton on The Honeymooners (1955)] I'm trying to change my image. You don't like going through life with your name synonymous with sewers.

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Military Service

World War II veteran stationed in France as an infantryman. Wounded in leg by shrapnel and was hospitalized for nine months. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

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Art Carney Obituary

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Art Carney, 85, Lauded 'Honeymooners' Actor, Dies
By Richard Severo Nov. 12, 2003

Art Carney, the Academy Award-winning comic actor who first gained fame as the guffawing, slightly off-center sewer worker Ed Norton in the early 1950's television series ''The Honeymooners,'' died on Sunday at a convalescent home in Chester, Conn. He was 85.
Mr. Carney's talents were by no means confined to ''The Honeymooners.'' He won an Oscar for his performance in the 1974 film ''Harry and Tonto,'' in which he portrays a widower who is evicted from his New York City apartment and who embarks on a cross-country odyssey with his pet cat. Over the course of his career he repeatedly won critical acclaim for the depth and breadth of his talent, even when he appeared in movies that critics did not like.
But it is as Ed Norton that he will be remembered by the many fans who have kept ''The Honeymooners'' in reruns for decades. Norton was no ordinary sewer worker. He called himself an ''underground sanitation expert.'' Every chance he got, he raided the refrigerator of his downstairs neighbor and friend Ralph Kramden, the irascible Brooklyn bus driver played by Jackie Gleason, and his appetite knew no bounds. Norton always wore a vest over his grungy T-shirt, wore a battered fedora indoors and out and always said the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Although Mr. Carney, who was painfully shy, would tell interviewers that he was the opposite of Norton and not at all like him in his personal habits, viewers sensed and his friends confirmed that he was more like Norton than he cared to say. Mr. Carney's stomach really was a bottomless pit, and he always took two helpings of everything, just as Norton did. For dessert, he would wolf down sundaes and chocolate bars. He had a keen sense of the absurd and relished the outlandish, but he always insisted that he had never been a comedian, only an actor.
Audrey Meadows, who played Alice Kramden on the show, summed him up as ''a genuinely nice guy'' and added, ''He hasn't got a nasty, conniving hair on his head.''
Arthur William Matthew Carney was born on Nov. 4, 1918, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., the youngest of six sons of Edward Michael and Helen Farrell Carney. He loved doing impersonations as a boy, won a talent contest in elementary school and another at A. B. Davis High School, in Mount Vernon, from which he graduated in 1936. He sought no further formal education and never took an acting course. Instead, he talked his way into a job with the popular Horace Heidt Orchestra and went on the road for more than three years, doing impersonations and novelty songs. He also did some announcing for Heidt's ''Pot O' Gold'' radio show. In 1941, when the orchestra was asked to make a movie called ''Pot O' Gold,'' Mr. Carney had a bit part.
Mr. Carney then left Heidt and tried nightclubs and vaudeville, but he was not very good at them and did not do well. He did succeed in getting bit parts on radio, specializing in roles that required dialects. One show, ''Man Behind the Gun,'' won a Peabody Award in 1942.
At one point a CBS executive who was looking for someone who could imitate the voice of Franklin D. Roosevelt was struck by Mr. Carney's ability and hired him. His career was interrupted by World War II. He was sent to France as an infantryman, but was wounded in the leg by shrapnel almost immediately and was hospitalized for nine months. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.
In 1949 he appeared on a television show that starred the cello-playing comedian Morey Amsterdam. By 1951 he was a regular on ''Henry Morgan's Great Talent Hunt.''
It was in the early 1950's that Mr. Carney began shaping the character of Ed Norton. It happened for the first time in a skit on Mr. Gleason's ''Cavalcade of Stars,'' which was shown on the old DuMont network. When Mr. Gleason was beckoned by CBS, Mr. Carney went with him as second banana.
At first he played a variety of roles: the rabbit-like Clem Finch; Sedgwick Van Gleason, the aristocratic father of the wastrel son, Reggie Van Gleason (Mr. Gleason); and Ed Norton. They were all funny, but it was Norton who captured the hearts of a nation and soon Mr. Carney was being offered honorary memberships in associations of sewer workers in Texas, California and Florida. Look magazine assessed what he had done with the role of Norton and concluded that Mr. Carney ''brings to comedy all the deftness, imagination and pathos of yesterday's most eloquent loser, Charlie Chaplin.''
New Yorkers were convinced that Mr. Carney, because of his accent, was from Brooklyn, but he insisted that he learned to speak that way by listening to the people around him in the Westchester of his childhood. He spent much of his social life with the friends he made while he was growing up. Even after he became wealthy, he avoided social commitments with other stars, preferring to stay home.
His contract with Mr. Gleason allowed him to do some acting in television outside his Norton routine, and his performances were memorable, although few were repeated. Among them was his appearance in 1957 in ''The Fabulous Irishman,'' in which he played Robert Briscoe, a Jew who had been elected Mayor of Dublin, and in 1960 he performed in Thornton Wilder's ''Our Town'' as the philosophical New England Stage Manager. In 1960 he also appeared in ''Call Me Back,'' a one-man drama about a divorced alcoholic.
Mr. Carney also won praise for his work in a number of television dramas during the 1950's, for such series as ''Studio One,'' the ''Kraft Television Theater'' and ''Omnibus.''
Later on, he made guest appearances on ''Star Trek,'' ''The Defenders'' and ''All in the Family.''
His Broadway credits included ''The Rope Dancers,'' in which he co-starred with Siobhan McKenna in 1957. His films included ''The Greatest Show on Earth'' (1952), ''The Silencers'' (1966), ''Gambit'' (1966), ''The Venetian Affair'' (1967) and ''The Late Show'' (1977), in which he played an aging private detective in seedy Los Angeles.
In 1965 he appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon's comedy ''The Odd Couple,'' originating the role of the obsessively neat Felix Unger to Walter Matthau's slovenly Oscar Madison.
It was during his run in ''The Odd Couple'' that he had a breakdown over the end of his 25-year marriage to the former Jean Myers. He fought addictions to alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates for years and had conquered them all by the time he made ''Harry and Tonto.''
After his divorce from Miss Myers, Mr. Carney married Barbara Isaac. When that marriage ended in divorce, he remarried his first wife. She survives him, as do their children, Eileen, Bryan and Paul.
Originally Mr. Carney did not want the role in ''Harry and Tonto'' because he thought that the film sentimentalized old age. Besides, he argued, he was only 55, not nearly old enough to play the 72-year-old title role. Paul Mazursky, the director, talked him into it by suggesting that this particular person was a young 72. Mr. Carney used his own voice, used little makeup, grew a mustache, whitened his hair and stopped masking his limp.
But he reached a new audience through reruns of ''The Honeymooners,'' still denying that he was actually like Norton.
''I love Ed Norton and what he did for my career,'' Mr. Carney once said. ''But the truth is that we couldn't have been more different. Norton was the total extrovert, there was no way you could put down his infectious good humor. Me? I'm a loner and a worrier.''

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1918 - 2003 World Events

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In 1918, in the year that Art Carney was born, federal spending was $12.68 billion, unemployment was 1.4% and the cost of a first-class stamp was 3 cents.

In 1936, by the time he was 18 years old, on November 3rd, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was reelected to a second term. He ran against Republican Governor Alf Landon (Kansas), defeating Landon in the popular vote by 60.8% to 36.5%. Vermont and Maine were the only two states in which Landon won. John Nance Garner IV became the Vice-President in this election.

In 1971, Art was 53 years old when in March, Intel shipped the first microprocessor to Busicom, a Japanese manufacturer of calculators. The microprocessor has since allowed computers to become smaller and faster, leading to smaller and more versatile handheld devices, home computers, and supercomputers.

In 1988, when he was 70 years old, on December 16th, 1988 the popular film Rain Man was released. Featuring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. this film brought attention to autistic savants and was based on the "megasavant" Laurence Kim Peek. The film would later go to win four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

In 1990, he was 72 years old when on April 24th, the Hubble telescope was launched into space after long delays due to the Challenger explosion. An optical flaw was found within weeks of launch but was fixed within three years. The discoveries made possible by the Hubble have contributed to scientists' understanding of the universe.

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