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How many lost episodes of The Honeymooners are there?

The Honeymooners is an American sitcom that aired on CBS in the 1950s. It starred Jackie Gleason as bus driver Ralph Kramden, Audrey Meadows as his wife Alice, and Art Carney and Joyce Randolph as their neighbors Ed and Trixie Norton. The series originally aired from 1955 to 1956 for 39 episodes. However, before it became a regular series, Gleason performed sketches as Ralph Kramden on his variety show Cavalcade of Stars from 1951 to 1955. It is estimated that around 108 of these “lost episodes” were performed but never recorded.

The Early Honeymooners Sketches (1951-1955)

When Jackie Gleason returned to television in 1951 with The Jackie Gleason Show (later known as Cavalcade of Stars), he revived his popular honeymooners character Ralph Kramden from his time on the Dumont network. The sketches became a regular part of Gleason’s variety show. These early Honeymooners sketches starred Gleason as Ralph, Pert Kelton as Alice, and Art Carney as Ed Norton. The sketches followed the lives of Ralph and Alice living in a small apartment in Brooklyn and Ralph’s get-rich-quick schemes.

These early sketches were broadcast live and not recorded. It’s estimated that 108 episodes were performed from 1951 to 1955. After Kelton left the show in 1952, she was replaced by Audrey Meadows as Alice. Some surviving scripts and home audio recordings help provide details about these lost episodes.

How Many Lost Episodes Exist from Each Season?

Season Estimated # of Lost Episodes
1951-52 36
1952-53 24
1953-54 24
1954-55 24
Total 108

In the 1951-52 season, an estimated 36 live sketches aired but were not recorded. In the following three seasons, it’s estimated 24 episodes aired each season, bringing the total lost episodes to about 108.

What Details are Known About the Lost Episodes?

Though no full episodes remain from the “lost” era of The Honeymooners from 1951 to 1955, some key details are known based on surviving scripts, home audio recordings, and comments from the cast and crew:

  • The plots mostly revolved around Ralph Kramden’s get-rich-quick schemes and dreams of improving his life such as through gambling or discoveries.
  • There were recurring gags and catchphrases that carried over to the later 39 filmed episodes like Ralph’s threats to send Alice “to the moon!”.
  • Art Carney’s Ed Norton character went through several changes in name and occupation until settling as sewer worker Ed Norton.
  • Joyce Randolph had a few appearances as Trixie Norton before Audrey Meadows took over the role of Alice Kramden.

Additionally, a few brief clips from the lost live episodes survive through kinescope recordings of Gleason’s talk show and comedy LP records. But otherwise, the full contents of the 108 lost Honeymooners sketches may be lost to time.

Why Were the Early Episodes Not Recorded?

Back in the early 1950s, it was common practice not to record live shows. Videotape technology was not yet available, so shows were broadcast live and not preserved for future re-airings. The Honeymooners was just one of many shows from the golden age of television that was performed live and then essentially lost to history.

Some reasons the early Honeymooners were not recorded include:

  • The technology to rerun episodes didn’t exist yet – live broadcasts were seen as disposable.
  • No one expected The Honeymooners to become so beloved and valued after the fact.
  • Recording and storing all those episodes on kinescope would have been costly for CBS at the time.

It wasn’t until 1956 when Gleason moved to filming The Honeymooners with the Classic 39 that episodes were finally recorded and preserved. By then, the legendary lost episodes were already gone.

How Have the Lost Episodes Been Recreated?

To get a sense of what those lost live episodes of The Honeymooners were like, fans and historians have attempted partial recreations over the years. These include:

  • Audio recordings – Several home audio recordings exist of the lost episodes, allowing fans to listen to the original soundtrack.
  • Scripts – Surviving scripts have been used to recreate storylines and dialogue.
  • Kinescopes – Brief clips preserved on other shows provide snippets of the lost episodes.
  • Re-enactments – Actors have recreated full lost episodes using audio recordings and scripts.

Probably the most ambitious recreation came in 2015 for the 60th anniversary of The Honeymooners. Actors including Jim Fyfe and Coby Koehl performed dozens of the lost episodes live on stage in New York using the original scripts and audio recordings. This allowed fans to get the closest experience possible to watching those original lost sketches.

Have Any Full Episodes Been Found?

Unfortunately, no full episodes are believed to exist among the approximately 108 lost Honeymooners sketches. The kinescopes that have been found only feature clips lasting a few minutes at most. And no copies of full sketches are known to have survived in private film collections or archives.

Essentially all that remain of these lost Honeymooners are scattered audio fragments, partial scripts, and anecdotal accounts of the live sketches. So unless a major discovery of kinescopes emerges, the full contents of those live episodes may be lost forever.


Research suggests about 108 episodes of The Honeymooners were performed on live TV between 1951 and 1955 but never recorded. This “lost episode” era represents the genesis of the characters before the show became a hit sitcom. While audio and script remnants give a sense of what the sketches contained, the full episodes are likely gone for good. The rediscovery of any lost Honeymooners media would be a major revelation for TV historians and comedy fans alike. But until then, the earliest adventures of Ralph and Alice remain a fascinating mystery.