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DAYS: Jane Kean, one of show's last surviving cast members from 1965, passes away

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(Diane Hunter, 1965-1966)
APRIL 10, 1923-NOVEMBER 26, 2013

Jane Kean, one of the last surviving cast members of "Days of Our Lives" from the show's debut year of 1965, has died at the age of 90. Kean portrayed Diane Hunter, the mother of Susan Hunter, from December 1965-March 1966, when she was succeeded by Coleen Gray. Her death leaves only four main cast members surviving from the show's debut year: Marie Cheatham, John Clarke, Dick Colla and Flip Mark. Kean left "Days" to portray Trixie Norton on a revival of one of the most famous comedies in television history: "The Honeymooners."
Jane Kean, best known for her role as Trixie, the long-suffering wife of Ed Norton on the 1960s TV revival of "The Honeymooners" with Jackie Gleason and Art Carney, has died. She was 90.
Kean, a resident of Toluca Lake, died Tuesday at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank of complications from a fall. Her niece, Deidre Wolpert, confirmed her death.
Although she played diverse roles during a career spanning more than four decades, including performing at London's Palladium before moving to Broadway, Kean said her role in "The Honeymooners" was the character that most people remembered.
"There's something about the show -- people relate to it," Kean said in a 1991 interview with The Times. "People believed the show was real, and that we really were the characters we played."
"The Honeymooners," which started as a sketch on "The Jackie Gleason Show" in the early 1950s, starred Gleason as Ralph Kramden, a struggling New York bus driver who lived in a cramped apartment with his wife Alice (Audrey Meadows). Carney played Norton, Kramden's dim-witted neighbor and best friend who was married to Trixie (originally played by Joyce Randolph), who was Alice's best friend.
Kean first started working with Gleason in the 1940s, when they were both on the vaudeville circuit. They also appeared in several stage productions in the 1950s.
She joined the cast of "The Honeymooners" in 1966 as Trixie when Gleason moved to Miami Beach for another version of "The Jackie Gleason Show," where he revived "The Honeymooners" for new sketches that reunited him with Carney. Sheila MacRae took on the role of Alice.
Those "Honeymooners" segments expanded to an hour and were crafted as musical comedies, with several original songs within each installment. The cast also appeared in 1976 for an ABC special, "The Honeymooners -- The Second Honeymoon."
Born April 10, 1923, in Hartford, Conn., Kean first started working professionally in the 1940s on stage. She appeared in starring roles on Broadway in the 1950s in shows such as "The Pajama Game" and "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" in which she replaced Jayne Mansfield.
During the 1950s, she also teamed up with her sister Betty for a popular nightclub act that blended singing, dance and comedy. The sisters performed on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and had a successful run at the London Palladium.
In the 1980s, Kean performed at colleges, on cruise ships, at dinner theaters and what she called Florida's "condo circuit." She wrote and performed in a two-woman musical, "We," at the Forum Theater in Yorba Linda in 1991. The project, which also starred Barbara Perry, featured comedy and musical numbers from numerous Broadway shows the two women had appeared in.
Kean performed a tribute to Gleason during the show titled, "How Sweet It Was."
Kean’s first marriage, to Richard Linkroum, ended in divorce. She later married her manager, Joe Hecht. He died in 2006. Her sister Betty died in 1986.
Besides Wolpert, Betty Kean's daughter, Jane Kean is survived by Wolpert's husband and two children, along with a stepson, Joseph Hecht Jr., and his son.
(Obituary courtesy of Los Angeles Times)
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Her Honeymooners work was on youtube but appears to be taken down. While she will never be considered "the real Trixie" she led an interesting old school show biz life starting out with Jackie Gleason in the dying days of vaudeville. If she was good enough for Gleason, then she had to be good. This is a clip of she and her sister singing with Ethel Merman


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Yes, at least 4 of them from the first week...Marie Cheatham (who is still quite active as an actress), John Clarke (who retired as Mickey Horton in 2004), Dick Colla (who became a director and married Denise Alexander...the first "Days" couple to meet and eventually get married) and Flip Mark (now a 911 operator in Arizona). The two girls who played Julie's friends in the pilot episode virtually disappeared after that appearance, but even if they were 25 playing 16 year olds, they'd both only be 75 or so now (Simone Pascal and Geraldine Lawrence). As of my last checking several years ago, the only other survivors from November & December 1965 are Bill Moneymaker (who played a U/5 named Larry, the assistant to the wedding photographer of Marie), Ron Quint who played a Process Server, Tammy Windsor who played a Court Stenographer and Anne Whitfield who played Barbara Harris.

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