Farewell to Joyce Randolph: The Last Honeymooner Passes at 99

On Saturday night, the entertainment world bid a poignant farewell to Joyce Randolph, a stalwart veteran of stage and television best known for her role as Trixie Norton on “The Honeymooners.” Randolph, aged 99, passed away at her Upper West Side residence in Manhattan due to natural causes, as confirmed by her son, Randolph Charles.

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Randolph’s iconic portrayal of Trixie Norton, the astute and endearing neighbor of Ralph and Alice Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason and Audrey Meadows), made her an integral part of the beloved sitcom. “The Honeymooners,” a comedic ode to Brooklyn tenement life, first appeared as a sketch on Gleason’s variety show in 1950. It later evolved into a standalone series during the 1955–1956 season, earning enduring popularity with 39 episodes that became syndication mainstays both nationally and internationally.

In a January 2007 interview with The New York Times, Randolph revealed that she did not receive residuals for the initial 39 episodes but eventually started receiving royalties when “lost” programs from variety hours were discovered. Despite leaving Gleason’s repertory company after five years, she continued to receive numerous letters from fans well into her 80s.

The impact of “The Honeymooners” on television viewers became apparent to Randolph in the early 1980s when her son mentioned being approached by people at Yale who were curious about whether she was indeed Trixie. She candidly acknowledged how playing Trixie limited her career opportunities, with directors hesitant to cast her due to her iconic association with the character.

Born Joyce Sirola in Detroit in 1924, Randolph’s journey into show business began at the age of 19 when she joined a Stage Door traveling company. After moving to New York, she graced Broadway productions and shared the screen with notable figures such as Eddie Cantor, Dean Martin, Jerry Lewis, Danny Thomas, and Fred Allen.

Gleason, impressed by Randolph during a Clorets commercial on “Cavalcade of Stars,” cast her in “The Honeymooners.” Her attachment to the character of Trixie made it challenging to secure roles after the show concluded, and she struggled to escape the shadow of her iconic character.

In reflecting on her career, Randolph, often dubbed “the Garbo of Detroit,” expressed her bewilderment at the comparison to Greta Garbo, stating, “Why did Garbo do that? Indeed, she and I have Scandinavian ancestry.”

Despite the challenges, Randolph remained connected to her fans, frequented Manhattan hotspots, and enjoyed conversations with patrons recognizing her from the iconic sitcom. Her husband, Richard Lincoln Charles, passed away in 1997, leaving her with the title of “first lady.” Randolph is survived by her son, Randolph Richard Charles.

With the passing of Joyce Randolph, the last surviving member of “The Honeymooners,” television history bids farewell to an enduring talent who left an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.

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