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Second Bananas: An Appealing Bunch

We’ve cherry-picked 10 classic TV pairings that made unforgettable fruit salads

  • Art Carney, Jackie Gleason, The Honeymooners, Second Bananas
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    Ed Norton

    En español | Would Ralph Kramden have killed in The Honeymooners without classic sidekick Ed Norton? “The chemistry was there right from the beginning,” Art Carney recalled on pal Jackie Gleason’s death in 1987. Even when teaching Gleason to dance “The Hucklebuck” or “address” a golf ball, Art gave Jackie the spotlight.

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  • Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, Second Bananas
    CBS via Getty Images

    Ethel Mertz

    We’ve all been led astray by a zany friend, right? Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to identify with sensible, skeptical Vivian Vance — the perfect foil for harebrained Lucille Ball on I Love Lucy. Like a second banana should, Ethel worked hard to make Lucy look good.

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  • Burt Ward, Adam West, Batman, Second Bananasd
    ZUMA Press, Inc. /Alamy


    “Holy Man Friday, Batman!” The screamingly obvious conclusions reached by Adam West’s Batman were hailed as brilliant deductions by Burt Ward’s Robin. Guess which actor got paid minimum wage — and had to do his own dangerous stunts?

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  • Mary Tyler Moore, Valerie Harperm Second Bananas

    Rhoda Morgenstern

    On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, rumpled Rhoda Morgenstern (Valerie Harper) from New York leavened meticulous Mary Richards of Minneapolis — and helped us get to know Mary Tyler Moore that much better.

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  • Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, Mayberry RFD, Second Bananas
    Hulton Archive / Stringer/Getty Images

    Barney Fife

    The physical mismatch alone told you panicky Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife (Don Knotts) was playing second fiddle to his poised sheriff (Andy Griffith) on The Andy Griffith Show. Barney would knock off his own hat when saluting, making you relieved he was allotted just one bullet. “Aw, shucks, Andy!”

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  • A young caucasian couple enjoy a dinner outdoors with text that reads keep life fun and your calendar full.

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  • Redd Foxx, Fred G. Sanford, Demond Wilson, Sanford and Son, Second Bananas
    NBC via Getty Images

    Lamont Sanford

    Sanford and Son was driven by an inside joke: Fred Sanford (comedian Redd Foxx) was the petulant child (“You big dummy!”), while his son Lamont (Demond Wilson) was the hardworking adult who kept him out of trouble. And it worked beautifully; sometimes the best sidekick makes a top banana look perfectly rotten.

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  • Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, George Costanza, Seinfeld, Second Bananas
    Castle Rock Entertainment/Courtesy Everett Collection

    George Costanza

    With-it Jerry Seinfeld never would have been caught napping beneath his desk. Nor would he carry a fat wallet in his back pocket, or suffer a public display of “shrinkage.” How do we know that? Because his opposite number, Jason Alexander’s George Costanza, did all three!

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  • Barbara Feldon, Don Adams, Get Smart, Second Bananas
    Photos 12 / Alamy

    Agent 99

    Barbara Feldon’s cool Agent 99 made Don Adams look like a stumblebum as Agent 86 on Get Smart. It could have been her cute pixie cut, or her eye-rolling at Max’s latest idiocy. But would you believe it was actually her voice? 99’s honey-throated purr ideally offset Max’s grating squawk.

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  • Jon Provost, Timmy Martin, Lassie, Second Bananas
    Courtesy Everett Collection

    Timmy Martin

    The best foil never steps on — or barks over — your lines. And when you’re adorable Timmy Martin (Jon Provost), the canine smarts of faithful Lassie highlight your innocence, paving the way for simple morality tales about stolen bikes, injured animals and even a runaway hot-air balloon.

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  • Barney Rubble, Fred Flintstone, Flintstones, Second Bananas
    ABC via Getty Images

    Barney Rubble

    A second banana often enshrines the mere sound of his top banana’s name. How else could Barney Rubble’s goofy “Whatever you say, Fred!” have lodged in our brains? Flintstones creators William Hanna and Joseph Barbera proudly based Fred Flintstone and Barney on Jackie Gleason and Art Carney.

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