TV's beloved ""Ed Norton"" finally gets his due in a breezy, often incisive biography. Considering the fact that Art Carney's creation in The Honeymooners shows no signs of diminishing popularity more than 40 years after his debut, and that his work outside the series has shown extraordinary range from low comedy to darkest tragedy, peaking in his Oscar-winning performance in Harry and Tonto, it's startling to realize that no book on his life has been published until now. Perhaps it was the actor's own shy and reclusive nature that prevented other attempts. But Carney is fortunate to have found his biographer in Start, TV columnist for the New York Post. This is a brief book by current standards but so densely packed with information that it's hard to imagine what might have been missed. Starr traces Carney's professional career from his days as an impressionist and radio actor, to stardom on The Jackie Gleason Show, and on to his emergence from Gleason's shadow into a remarkable solo career. Starr also turns a sensitive eye to Carney's rockier personal life: Public triumphs were constantly undermined by alcoholism and bouts of deep depression. Starr appears to have talked to virtually everyone who ever knew or worked with Carney (though not Carney himself), and he wisely lets these friends and acquaintances tell their own stories. He keeps his own voice clear but refreshingly impartial. Art Carney emerges from these pages as a kind, gentle man who, tragically, has seldom found the love for himself that his millions of fans give him without qualification. Starr's perceptive biography presents its subject as a man who became legendary, not through hype or self-promotion, but through the sheer force of his talent.