People: Mar. 9, 1970

A man is only 54 once, so Jackie Gleason got together with 800 or so of his closest friends for a monster birthday party at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Fla. It cost $25 a plate, but it was worth it; amid the celebration came a phone call from the President. The White House gagwriters had obviously been at work: "The operator said we had a bad connection," Richard Nixon told the Great One. "I was afraid your Norton [Jackie's bumbling TV sidekick] had gone to work for the telephone company." Replied Gleason: "If...

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