Jackie Gleason was one of the most successful stars of his time. The Smokey And The Bandit star was Hollywood royalty for decades, but he wasn’t the best patriarch. His grandson, also a famed actor, has opened up about neglect at home.
The Family Tree
The Honeymooners star was wed three times. With his first wife Genevieve Halford, he had two daughters, Geraldine and Linda. Linda followed her father into acting, marrying Pulitzer Prize-winner Jason Miller of The Exorcist fame. Together they had a son, Jason Patric.
Patric’s breakthrough came in Joel Schumacker’s horror classic The Lost Boys. This is a pretty lowkey dynasty, but that’s only because none of these generations were especially close.
Millionaire With A Poor Daughter
Miller and Patric were not close to Gleason. He appeared on the Inside of You podcast alongside Kiefer Sutherland where the topic turned to his family tree. Patric said Gleason was “tipping doormen hundred dollar bulls but… hot dogs for thanksgiving for his daughter and her husband and kids.” Even though Gleason was rich, his daughter was poor.
When pressed, Patric can only speculate as to why. While Miller eventually became a very big deal, he was just a struggling actor for years. “I met Gleason twice in my life… I think there was probably an actor idea that he didn’t approve of which is strange because he came from great poverty.” He didn’t like Miller’s attempt to be an actor when it was barely enough to provide, so he seemingly withheld.
With Success, Gleason’s Back
The family dynamic changed once Miller became successful. He had never been in a movie before writing the Championship Season. The play went on to win a Tony, a Pulitzer and stayed on Broadway for years. Miller parlayed that success into the starring role in The Exorcist, among the most important films of the decade.
Once Miller found success, Patric said Gleason was suddenly back on the scene. “They wanted to make movie versions of Championship Season, so Gleason then wanted to play the coach.” Miller told him “go f*ck yourself,” which Patric said, “he had every right to do.”
Eloquently, Patric describes what it was like being in a Hollywood dynasty: “there’s a lot of crazy Shakespearian fear and vengeance and anger in our business and… I can’t explain why as a father… why you wouldn’t help your child.” Patric had his own fraught relationship with Miller, who later descended into addiction.
The whole situation is rather sad. If there’s any silver lining, at least Gleason, Miller, and Patric were all able to work out of poverty and become successful. That being said, it sure sounds like Gleason could have been kinder to his family.
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