When he was a young man, the actor Bob Gunton took joy in settling in front of the TV with his dad to watch reruns of the one and only season of Jackie Gleason's The Honeymooners. And as much as Gunton adored Gleason's antics, it didn't create any desire in him to consider a life on the stage. Instead, Gunton set his sights for the priesthood and, after time at the seminary, was drafted into the United States Army as a radio operator in Vietnam. Two years later, upon arriving home to Southern California, he didn't have a clue to what to do, professionally speaking. Through a series of chance events, he embarked on an acting career now more than fifty years in the making, which includes his having created the role of Juan Peron in Evita (1979) alongside original cast members Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin.

"The Great One" was the moniker coined by Orson Welles awarded to Jackie Gleason, who reveled in the honorarium. One year on the Tony Awards broadcast, Gleason was introduced not by name, but rather by an off-camera voice simply announcing, "Ladies and gentlemen: the Great One," and out he strolled. Bob Gunton is a great one, too, as anyone who has seen him in starring roles over the last five decades can attest (Sweeney Todd, anybody?), as well as achieving screen immortality by way of the juicy supporting role of Warden Norton in The Shawshank Redemption

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Ron Fassler

Ron Fassler is a theatre historian, drama critic and author of "Up in the Cheap Seats: A Historical Memoir of Broadway."