At just 10-years-old, Craig Horwich had no idea what to expect when he met his future stepfather and “Honeymooners” star, Jackie Gleason. During the ’50s and ’60s, Gleason had become a household name thanks to his time on the classic TV sitcom, playing bus driver Ralph Kramden.
According to Horwich, he still remembers meeting the pop culture icon for the first time.
“I was unaware of the magnitude of his fame,” said Horwich to Fox News in 2018. “He was an incredible man. I had questionitis. I remember him saying that to me I had questionitis. He answered a trove of questions that came out in rapid-fire from this young boy’s mind.”
Per Horwich, Jackie Gleason “lived in this beautiful, big home. He would be driven around in a limo. He was always well dressed. Always at the head of the table and in charge. I found him very intriguing.”
Gleason met Horwich’s mother, Marilyn Taylor, in the late ’40s. His mother worked with June Taylor Dancers, and they first met while working the east coast nightclubs. A romance began when Gleason featured her dance troupe in his variety shows.
“By 1952, that’s when Jackie and my mom began a relationship,” recalled Horwich. “But my mom would not go out with Jackie until he got a separation. He was married but separated… The relationship ran its course. Jackie was unable to be granted a divorce. He was very Catholic as his wife was. So the relationship really had a shelf life. So they went their own ways.”
Jackie Gleason’s stepson star sees different side to star
After Taylor, Jackie Gleason then married fellow dancer Genevieve Halford, with whom he had two daughters. They divorced in 1970, and Gleason later married his former secretary Beverly McKittrick. They also divorced in 1974. At the same time, Meanwhile, Horwich’s mother moved north.
“After they went their own ways, my mom moved to Chicago and met my father,” said Horwich. “I was then born. And then in the early ’70s, my father passed away in Chicago. So my mom and I moved to Florida so she could be with her family.”
Little did he and his mother know, Gleason would soon come knocking. “When he found out my mom was now widowed and living in South Florida… He wooed and reunited with her,” he said. “They married and quite literally lived happily ever after.”
At just 12, Horwich witnessed a different side to the star that many people didn’t get to see.
“The majority of his time at home was spent quietly,” he said. “He was a prolific reader. Constantly reading. There was a store called Bookland… Every week or two the owners would come by and drop off a box of books. Jackie just consumed books. He read everything but he was most intrigued with non-fiction. He felt that his life as an actor, as a performer, was all fiction.