In front of the enormous Port Authority Bus Terminal stands the eight-foot-tall bronze statue of actor Jackie Gleason, looking smug over thousands of New Yorkers and tourists who pass him by without so much as a glance. But those who are savvy with classic American pop culture may recognize the merry-looking guy, dressed in a bus driver’s costume and clutching a lunchpail in one hand: Ralph Kramden, the main character of The Honeymooners.
Originally airing from October 1955 to September 1956, The Honeymooners was a 39-episode sitcom series based on Jackie Gleason’s recurring comedy sketch, centering on the day-to-day lives of a short-tempered but soft-hearted bus driver and his sarcastic wife. It was a huge success initially at least, and garnered further popularity through many reruns and revivals. It later even served as the conceptual inspiration behind the more famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Flintstones.
To honor the lasting legacies of Ralph Kramden and his portrayer, the TV Land cable channel and Gleason’s estate funded a sculpture of the character in 1999, which would be installed outside the Western Hemisphere’s biggest bus terminal, a thematically fitting location for the fictional bus driver. Following this, TV Land went on to sponsor several monuments across the United States, including ones of Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Montgomery, to name a few.