By People Staff
November 24, 2003 12:00 PM

Ed is the kind of person even dogs and cats love,” Art Carney once said. Indeed, everyone fell for upbeat, slow-witted Ed Norton. As Jackie Gleason’s foil on The Honeymooners in the ’50s, Carney, who died at 85 on Nov. 9 in Chester, Conn., after a long illness, was the world’s funniest—and most famous—sewer worker. “The minute I saw the guy act,” Gleason said, “I knew I’d have to work twice as hard for laughs.”

Born Irish Catholic in Mt. Vernon, N.Y., Carney appeared in 23 films, winning an Oscar for 1974’s Harry and Tonto. But as Norton he collected five of seven Emmys. “Art was so appealing because people could identify with him,” says Joyce Randolph, who played his wife, Trixie. “He and Jackie were like Everyman.”

Carney had his share of Everyman difficulties. Despondent over the end of his 26-year marriage to high school sweetheart Jean Myers, with whom he had three children, he had a breakdown in 1965. He married Barbara Isaac, then divorced her and remarried Myers in ’79. In later years he spent most of his time at home in Westbrook, Conn. And what Ed Norton once grandly said of Ralph Kramden remained true of Carney: He was “one of nature’s noblemen.”