In 1950 Jackie Gleason was starring in a New York-based comedy-variety series, Cavalcade of Stars, and played many different characters. One regular character was Charlie Bratten, a lunchroom loudmouth who insisted on spoiling a neighboring patron's meal. Carney, established in New York as a reliable actor, played Bratten's mild-mannered victim, Clem Finch. Gleason and Carney developed a good working chemistry, and Gleason recruited Carney to appear in other sketches, including the domestic-comedy skits featuring The Honeymooners. Carney gained lifelong fame for his portrayal of upstairs neighbor and sewer worker Ed Norton, opposite Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden. The success of these skits resulted in the famous filmed situation comedy The Honeymooners and the Honeymooners revivals that followed.
Beyond The Honeymooners, Carney served as Gleason's sidekick and troupe member during many of the Gleason's years on television, which included several CBS runs of the Gleason variety show and some Honeymooners specials on ABC. Gleason picked Carney to play Norton because he realized that Carney was so funny that Gleason would have to work twice as hard to get laughs. This "competition" between the two was likely a factor in the program's consistently high level of humor. In fact, at one point during the 1950s, Carney was getting more media attention than Gleason, prompting Gleason to scale back Carney's participation for a few episodes. Popular demand restored Carney to prominence in the Gleason shows.
He was nominated for seven Emmy Awards and won six.
He was also in an episode of The Twilight Zone "Night of the Meek".
Between his stints with Jackie Gleason, Carney worked steadily as a character actor. In the season two opening episode of the Batman television series, titled "Shoot a Crooked Arrow" (1966), Carney gave a memorable performance as the newly introduced villain "The Archer". In 1978, Carney appeared in The Star Wars Holiday Special, a spin-off film to the Star Wars series. In it, he played Trader Saun Dann, a member of the Rebel Alliance who was a close friend of Chewbacca and his family.
In 1981, he portrayed Harry Truman, an 84-year-old lodge owner in the half-fictional/half-real account of events leading to the eruption of Mount St. Helens, in the movie titled St. Helens. Although he retired in the late 1980s, he returned in 1993 to make a small cameo in the Arnold Schwarzenegger film, Last Action Hero.
|1941||Pot o’ Gold||Band member/radio announcer||uncredited|
|1964||The Yellow Rolls-Royce||Joey Friedlander|
|1967||A Guide for the Married Man||Technical Adviser (Joe X)|
|1974||Harry and Tonto||Harry Coombes||Academy Award for Best Actor |
|1975||W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings||Deacon John Wesley Gore|
|1976||Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood||J.J. Fromberg|
|1977||The Late Show||Ira Wells|
|Scott Joplin||John Stark|
|1978||Movie Movie||Doctor Blaine/Doctor Bowers|
|House Calls||Dr. Amos Willoughby|
|1979||Going in Style||Al|
|1980||Roadie||Corpus C. Redfish||Alcatraz:The Whole Shocking Story|
|1981||St. Helens||Harry Truman|
|Take This Job and Shove It||Charlie Pickett||Fame (Season I) Featured episode as the janitor Mr Tim O'Banyan,a former dancer|
|1982||Better Late Than Never||Charley Dunbar|
|1983||The Last Leaf||Mr. Behrman|
|The Muppets Take Manhattan||Bernard Crawford|
|The Naked Face||Morgens|
|1987||Night Friend||Monsignor O’Brien|
|1993||Last Action Hero||Frank|