Herbert John Gleason was born on February 26, 1916, in Brooklyn, New York. Jackie’s childhood was extremely sad. His father, John Herbert Gleason, an insurance auditor, abandoned the family. His brother, Clemence, died at the age of 13 when Jackie was three, of tuberculosis. Jackie attended Bushwick High School in Brooklyn but dropped out before graduation. His mother, the former Mae Kelly of Ireland, died when Jackie was 19. He was all alone in the world.
Jackie first made a mark for himself on Broadway in Follow the Girls. In just a few years, he was making movies in Hollywood. First working at Warner Brothers, they gave him the name, Jackie C. Gleason. He next went to Columbia Pictures and then to 20th Century-Fox. Probably his best-known role in all this time was as the bass player for the Glenn Miller Orchestra in Orchestra Wives (1942).In 1944, he began working on radio. He began a shared program in August… The Jackie Gleason-Les Tremayne Show on NBC. He was a guest on many other radio shows but the radio was on the way out and television was the newest thing.