Jackie Gleason Special

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When Jackie Gleason decided to move to Miami Beach, he chartered a special train called the "Jackie Gleason Special". According to a recent A&E biography show, this occured in 1965, however, some web sites dealing with Jackie Gleason give the year as 1964. The A&E biography show had some fuzzy shots of the train and some shots taken at what appears to be Jacksonville and Miami.

Does anyone have any knowledge about this Special? Photos?

I ran into the Great One in 1965 in Miami Beach when we met in a restaurant called "Piccolo's" in South Beach. He ended up buying me a Pizza! Depending on what I can find, the story of the Special may be a fun article to do for Lines South. To the Moon, Alice!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), November 19, 2002


Jackie Gleason was afraid of flying, that's why he always went by train.The New Orleans NRHS owned NYC sleeper obs, "Bonnie Brook" was used by Gleason when it was owned by Jim Jones, a former Pullman Co. employee who brokered countless cars to scrappers, Mexico, and private interests in the 60's.

-- Maunsel White (maunsel.white@mchsi.com), December 22, 2004.

To all on the List

Very interesting comments on the Great Gleason Specials. Appears that he used the train from NY to Miami over a few years time. In very late Oct or early Nov 1966, I was working the Messenger's Job at Pot Yd. and I would take the days outbound mail from PY down to Alexandria Sta for train company mail train service about 6:30 PM. After I gave the mail to the Baggage Agt for sorting I ran into Dick Daymude on the platform who was the daylight (8-4) ticket agent. He said that Jackie Gleason was coming through on his special train running as First 57 going to Florida. This was around 6:45 pm or so; about 7:10 or so 37 (Sou 37) who was running very late, was just leaving Alex and 1st 57's headlight was showing up at North Alexandria Interlocking. As 1st 57 came through the platforms at Restricted Speed (had to let 37 clear on the Horn Track down at AF Tower before he could get the switches and signal for the RF&P main track) the engineman (George Maxey) was dogging it at about 10 mph, and he and the fireman (Dave Rollins) were hanging out of the cab windows. As the cars passed, about middle way in the consist Ralphie and Norton were leaning out of a Dutch-door vestibule waving and calling to the passengers on the platform who were waiting for Regular 57. In the Dutch-door vestibule coupled next to their car were Alice and Trixie waving too. I'll remember that sight forever; the whole platform erupted into bedlam with everyone yelling and waving back. Jim Foley CSX Clearance Bureau Jax RF&P Potomac Yard 1966-1992 jim_foley@csx.com

-- James E Foley (jim_foley@csx.com), November 24, 2002.

I believe the Gleason Special rolled in 1964, not '65

-- Bob Venditti (bobvend@bellsouth.net), November 23, 2002.

Senior moment! Try September October 1965 of the ACL news Thanks ,Dan

-- Dan King (kingdandixie@AOL.com), November 22, 2002.

Check theSept. Oct issue of ACL news for the Gleason Special story .(That is my uncle Jack King on the cover)

-- Dan King (kingdandixie@AOL.com), November 22, 2002.

In the early 1960's there was a photo in the news section of Trains Magazine of the "Great Gleason Special." I have these magazines, but it could take some time to find this one.

-- Rick Morrison (eopipes@surfree.com), November 20, 2002.

Yes, Larry G does say that the Gleason specials were over ACL. Of course I can't find my stash of ACL News issues at the moment to cite specific dates, but there were several of these chartered trains in the circa-late 50s/early 60s period. They were written up in ACL News and the Society also has a few publicity photos of Gleason on the trains in our collection. No doubt he traveled on the "other railroad" at times too, but there were definitely some Gleason specials over the ACL.

-- Larry Goolsby (LGoolsby@aphsa.org), November 20, 2002.

How sweet it is! Thanks for the responses so far. The reason I stated that the Special went via ACL is that Larry G tells me that he has a few shots of the Special that appeared in ACL news. And, yes, the ACL Special would have used the Seaboard between Auburndale and Miami, so the Seaboard "bloc" is also correct.

The Jackie Gleason show was based in Miami, but CBS headquarters was in New York, so the great one certainly traveled between the two points. By 1965, the East Coast Champion was not on the same par as the Silver Meteor and for most persons, the Meteor was the train of choice. So, most certainly Jackie traveled by the Meteor. After 1967, the choice was reduced to between the Meteor and the Star-Meteor was the better train.

And away we go!

-- Michael W. Savchak (Savchak@mnr.org), November 20, 2002.

In the "for what it's worth Dept.", In Feb 1968 I was on the Meteor from WBP to NY. There was a dark blue heavyweight obs up front and the word was out that it was Gleason. It came of in Jax to go west. I observed some of the switching operations but did not see the Great One.

-- Jim coviello (jcovi60516@aol.com), November 19, 2002.

Michael, I seem to remember the tower operator in Raleigh telling me that Mr Gleason traveled to Florida every winter on the Seaboard. John Edwards

-- John Edwards (anjedwards@enter.net), November 19, 2002.

Well,if this isn't something.I saw the same show and I was going to ask the same question.Seems to me in the archives or still at CSX should be something about this.Yes,Mike it would be a great article. I always had in the back of my mind that he went on the ACL,but I don't think that is correct.1965 was the year he moved the whole show to Miami Beach.That was after the FEC stopped regular passenger service.So can only guess it was SAL,at least from Auburndale south.

-- Joseph Oates (jlosal@mindspring.com), November 19, 2002.

That's "Bang, Zoooooooooooooom, to the Moon" to you Mr. Savchak. Did ya know he traveled with Glen Miller for awhile before and during the war. So did Broderick Crawford.

While we're on the subject, I watched "Without Reservations" last night...great shots of heavyweight trains, LaSalle Street Station, Dearborn Station, the Chief, blah blah. Actually the interior shots were fairly accurate of sleepers, dining cars and lounges.

-- Buck Dean (abdean@yahoo.com), November 19, 2002.


I recall hearing that Jackie Gleason was a regular on the Silver Meteor and other Seaboard name trains, not on ACL trains. Can anybody confirm?

John Golden

-- John Golden (Golden1014@yahoo.com), November 19, 2002.

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