May-18th-2004, 10:00 AM
swing like crazy!
Tony Randall R.I.P.
Sad news! I loved this guy!
y CHRISTY LEMIRE, AP Entertainment Writer
NEW YORK - Tony Randall (news), the comic actor best known for playing fastidious photographer Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple," has died. He was 84.
Randall died in his sleep Monday night at NYU Medical Center of complications from a long illness, according to his publicity firm, Springer Associates.
He is survived by his wife, Heather Harlan Randall, who made him a father for the first time at age 77, and their two children, 7-year-old Julia Laurette and 5-year-old Jefferson Salvini.
Randall won an Emmy for playing Unger on the sitcom based on Neil Simon's play and movie. The show ran from 1970-75, but Randall won after it had been canceled, prompting him to quip at the awards ceremony: "I'm so happy I won. Now if I only had a job."
The show's charm sprang from Randall's chemistry and conflict with Jack Klugman (news) as sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison, with whom he's forced to share an apartment after both men get divorced.
Before that, Randall was best known as the fastidious "best friend" figure in several Rock Hudson (news)-Doris Day (news) movies, including 1959's "Pillow Talk" and 1961's "Lover Come Back."
The actor became a fixture on David Letterman's late-night talk shows, appearing a record 70 times on the "Late Show" alone. He made fun of his own prim image by taking part in Letterman's wacky antics, including allowing himself to be covered in mud.
And in 1993, when Conan O'Brien took over the time slot at NBC that Letterman had vacated for a new show at CBS, Randall was a guest on O'Brien's debut episode.
After "The Odd Couple," Randall had two short-lived sitcoms, one of which was "The Tony Randall Show," in which he played a stuffy Philadelphia judge, from 1976-78.
From 1981-83, he played the title role in the sitcom "Love, Sidney," as a single, middle-aged commercial artist helping a female friend care for her young daughter.
The show was based on a TV movie in which Sidney was gay; in the TV show, the character's sexual orientation was implied, but never specified. This occurred more than a decade before the much-hyped coming-out on "Ellen" in 1997, which made Ellen DeGeneres (news)' character the first openly gay central figure on a network series.
For his television work, Randall got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998.
In an effort to bring classic theater back to Broadway, Randall founded and was artistic director of the non-profit National Actors Theatre in 1991, using $1 million of his own money and $2 million from corporations and foundations. The company's first production was a revival of Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," starring Martin Sheen (news) and Michael York (news), which hadn't been staged on Broadway in 40 years.
The next year, Randall's production of Ibsen's "The Master Builder" didn't exactly draw raves. AP Drama Critic Michael Kuchwara called it "deadly earnest — and dull."
Subsequent performances included "Night Must Fall," "The Gin Game" and "The Sunshine Boys," in which Randall reunited with Klugman, in 1998. Randall also starred in his company's Tony Award-winning staging of "M. Butterfly."
The actor also was socially active, lobbying against smoking in public places, marching in Washington against apartheid in the '80s, and helping raise money for AIDS (news - web sites) research in the '90s.
Born Leonard Rosenberg on Feb. 26, 1920, Randall was drawn as a teenager to roadshows that came through his hometown of Tulsa, Okla.
"One night, the entire town turned out to see the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo perform Swan Lake and Sheherezade," he wrote. "I — and most of the audience — had never seen a ballet before. We stood and cheered, thinking it was a 'once in a lifetime' event."
Randall attended Northwestern University before heading to New York at 19, where he made his stage debut in 1941 in "The Circle of Chalk."
After Army service during World War II from 1942-46, he returned to New York, where he appeared on radio and early television. He got his start in movies in 1957.
He was married to his college sweetheart, Florence Randall, for 54 years until she died of cancer in 1992.
"I saw her in a bank — I never saw another girl in my life. She was gorgeous, the most beautiful girl I ever saw," Randall said in a TV interview in 1995.
Later that year, he married Harlan, who was 50 years his junior. Randall met her through his National Actors Theatre; former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (news - web sites) performed the ceremony.
Harlan gave birth to their first child, Julia Laurette Randall, in April 1997. Their second child, Jefferson Salvini Randall, was born in June 1998
May-18th-2004, 10:10 AM
We are the only reality
Thank you, Cookie. Randall was one of my favourite actors and who doesn't like "The Odd Couple" TV series? Having been a little skeptical at wheather Randall could fill the shoes of the great Jack Lemmon in Neil Simon's film, on which the series was based, he quickly made that role his own.
A classy, classy man. RIP Tony and thanks.
Last edited by patricia; May-18th-2004 at 10:11 AM.
May-18th-2004, 10:23 AM
2 blocks from the world
I was fortunate enough to have had a couple of occasions to meet and interact with Tony Randall. He was a friendly, warm, extraordinarily intelligent and well-informed, and very very witty man (in fact, in person pretty much exactly like his TV talk show personna, only more thoughtful). He will be missed.
May-18th-2004, 10:32 AM
I'm the face.
I thoroughly enjoyed Randall in The Odd Couple, one of my favorite shows when I was a kid; outside of that series, however, he kind of bugged me. He was staunchly anti-rock & roll and without a brilliant performer like Jack Klugman to play off him, he seemed like a set-up without a punch line, or maybe vice-versa.
But he was perfect in his career role, and I respect the fact that he married a blonde hottie half a century younger than him. That means my second wife could be born nine years from now!
May-18th-2004, 10:51 AM
Wheezer ripped my flesh.
Who could forget Felix Unger and the Sophisticatos, that tasty novelty combo whose snappy grooves were driven by Murray the Cop on bass.
"Happy and peppy and bursting with love...."
R.I.P. Mr. Randall.
May-19th-2004, 03:14 PM
with a twist
That was my favorite episode.
Originally Posted by Underhound
May-18th-2004, 01:51 PM
Me, too, Cookie... I feel as if a beloved Uncle has passed away.
Originally Posted by cookie
RIP, Tony Randall (fka Bernie Rosenberg!)
"Life's short, drink well."
May-18th-2004, 03:15 PM
2007 Stanley Cup Champs
Me three. Charismatic guy, great voice.
May-18th-2004, 04:38 PM
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is still one of my all time favorite movies from the 60s comedy genre.
The Odd Couple sitcom was another.
Good-bye, Tony...rest in peace.
Last edited by GoodSpeak; May-18th-2004 at 07:06 PM.
May-18th-2004, 05:31 PM
"OK. Five dollars for socks!"
One of my absolute favorite lines in sitcom history. Anyone place it?
May-18th-2004, 08:11 PM
77 sunset strip
Go back further...he was in a fluffy movie in the late 50's with Debbie Reynolds in which he played the type of character he came to be seen as.
Always dug his work.
Sad to see talent go