Audrey Meadows was an American actress best known for her role as the deadpan housewife Alice Kramden on the 1950s American television comedy The Honeymooners.
Born as Audrey Cotter in Wu-ch’ang, China, the youngest of four children, her parents, the Rev Francis James Meadows Cotter and his wife, the former Ida Miller Taylor were Episcopal missionaries. She is the younger sister of actress Jayne Meadows.
Meadows’ family returned from China to their home in Sharon, Connecticut in the 1920s. After high school, she moved to New York City and became a singer in the Broadway show Top Banana before becoming a regular on the Bob and Ray Show. She was then hired to play Alice on The Jackie Gleason Show after the original Alice, Pert Kelton, who originated the role, left the show. When The Honeymooners became a half-hour situation comedy on CBS, Meadows continued in the role. She then returned to play Alice after a long hiatus, when Gleason produced occasional Honeymooners specials in the 1970s. Meadows had auditioned for Gleason and was initially turned down for being too chic and pretty for Alice. Meadows submitted a photo of herself looking plain and drab the next day and won the role.
Meadows appeared in a number of films, worked with Dean Martin on his television variety shows and celebrity roasts, and then returned to situation comedy in the 1980s playing the mother-in-law on Too Close for Comfort. She guest-starred on The Red Skelton Show show and made an appearance in an episode of The Simpsons, wherein she voiced the role of Bea Simmons, Grandpa Simpsons’ girlfriend. Her last work was on the sitcom Dave’s World, in which she played Kenny’s mother.