Joyce Randolph, known for playing Trixie on “The Honeymooners” and the last surviving cast member, has died. She was 99.
Randolph, a veteran of the stage and small screen, played the sarcastic Trixie Norton opposite slow-on-the-uptake husband Ed Norton (Art Carney) on the beloved 1950s sitcom.
The actress died at her home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan on Saturday night. Her death of natural causes was confirmed Sunday by her son Randolph Charles, her only survivor. Her husband, marketing executive Richard Lincoln, died in 1997.
Randolph’s character rounded out the foursome formed by star Jackie Gleason, who played bus driver Ralph Kramden; Audrey Meadows as his wife, Alice, and Carney as a sewer worker.
Set in Brooklyn, the series, starting as variety-show skits and then spending a year as a sitcom, was loosely modeled on Gleason’s life growing up. The tenement dwellers shivered through shutoff heat in winter, railed against rent hikes and delighted audiences with their wisecrack-infused bickering.
Gleason died in 1987 at age 71, Meadows in 1996 and Carney in 2003.
The Finnish-American actress, born Joyce Sirola in Detroit in 1924, moved to New York City at age 18 after touring in several shows and appeared with Gloria Swanson on Broadway in “A Goose for the Gander.” She spent much of the late 1940s playing homicide victims in detective dramas, joking to the Daily News in 2004 that she had been “the most murdered actress on television.”
In 1951, Gleason spotted her doing a live chewing gum commercial during his variety show, “Cavalcade of Stars,” and asked her to audition for the role of Trixie in what was then a recurring sketch, “The Honeymooners.” That skit retained its title and became part of “The Jackie Gleason Show” after its star switched networks, then ran from 1955 to 1956 as its own series for a single season, with 39 episodes.
Those black-and-white episodes took on a life of their own, syndicated and aired worldwide. It became hard for Randolph to get parts after playing that character because she was too well known as Trixie.
“Never in our wildest dreams did we think we were making TV history,” Randolph told The News in 2004. “But there isn’t a day that goes by when I’m not deeply proud to have been part of ‘The Honeymooners.'”
The show spawned a pandemic-era combination tribute and online remake during the COVID-19 lockdown, “The Honeyzoomers.”
“I’ve heard about it, and I think it’s a wonderful idea,” she told the Daily News in 2021, admitting she watched marathon reruns of the original show.
Over the decades, she remained astonished and gratified at the series’ staying power.
“Back then, we never knew for a second that we’d last for all these years, that the show would endure,” Randolph told The News in 2015, when the show turned 60. “People loved it at the time, and it just has gone on and on. Here we are, 60 years later, still talking about it.”