RANDALL, TONY

U.S. Actor

Tony Randall, an Emmy-award winning television and film actor, is most noted for his role as the anal-retentive Felix Unger in the ABC sitcom The Odd Couple. A popular guest on numerous variety and talk shows, Randall has been connected with all three major broadcast networks, as well as with PBS.

Randall began his career in radio in the 1940s, appearing on such shows as the Henry Morgan Program and Opera Quiz. From 1950-52, Randall played Mac on the melodramatic TV serial One Man's Family. He then went on to play Harvey Weskit, the brash, over-confident best friend of Robinson Peepers (Wally Cox) in the live sitcom Mr. Peepers (1952-1955). After finding a niche in films, including numerous roles in romantic comedies, Randall won the part of Felix Unger in the ABC television version of The Odd Couple (1970-75).

Although the Broadway and film versions of The Odd Couple became established hits with different stars (Randall, however, did play Felix in a Chicago production), Randall lent numerous additions to the Felix character. Drawing upon his interest in opera, Randall had Felix become an opera lover. Randall also added the comedic honking noises that accompanied Felix's ever-present sinus attacks. Much like Jack Klugman's close connection to the Oscar Madison role, Randall became synonymous with Unger.

Despite low ratings for the series, ABC, then the third-place network, allowed The Odd Couple a five season run. In 1975, Randall won an Emmy as lead actor for his role as Felix. A popular guest on numerous variety shows, Randall was present on two Emmy award winning variety show episodes in 1970 (The Flip Wilson Show) and 1971 (The Sonny and Cher Show). Randall's frequent appearances as a guest on the Tonight Show won him a role playing himself in Martin Scorsese's King of Comedy (1983).

In 1976, Randall starred in the short-lived CBS sitcom The Tony Randall Show. Randall played Walter Franklin, a judge who deliberated over his troubled family as much as he did over the cases presented to him in his mythical Philadelphia courtroom. In 1981, Randall returned to television playing Sidney Shorr in NBC's Love, Sidney, a critically-acclaimed yet commercially unsuccessful sitcom canceled in 1983. The series did attract some criticism from the religious and culturally conservative communities. In Sidney Shorr, the made-for-television movie which preceded the series, Randall's character was presented as homosexual. In the series this was simply dropped.

Randall reprised his Felix Unger role in a 1993 TV-movie version of The Odd Couple. He has also hosted the PBS opera series Live From The Met.

-Michael B. Kassel

 


Tony Randall

TONY RANDALL. Born Leonard Rosenbergin Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A., 26 February 1920. Educated at Northwestern University, Chicago; Columbia University, New York; the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre, New York City, 1938-40; and the Officer Candidate School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. Married 1) Florence Gibbs (died, 1992); 2) Heather Harlan, 1995; one child. Served as private and first lieutenant in U.S. Army Signal Corps, 1942-46. Announcer and actor in radio soap operas; New York debut as stage actor, A Circle of Chalk, 1941; various theater and radio work, 1947-52; television actor, from 1952; continues to star in film, on stage, and on television. Member: Actors' Equity Association; Screen Actors Guild; American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; Association of the Metropolitan Opera Company; founder and artistic director of the National Actors' Theatre in New York City. Recipient: Emmy Award, 1975. Address: c/o National Actors' Theatre, 1560 Broadway, Suite 409, New York, New York 10036, U.S.A.

TELEVISION SERIES

1949-52 One Man's Family
1952-55 Mr. Peepers
1970-75 The Odd Couple
1976-78 The Tony Randall Show
1981-83 Love, Sidney

MADE-FOR-TELEVISION MOVIES

1978 Kate Bliss and the Ticker Tape Kid
1981 Sidney Shorr: A Girl's Best Friend
1984 Off Sides
1985 Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil
1986 Sunday Drive
1988 Save the Dog
1989 The Man in the Brown Suit
1993 The Odd Couple: Together Again

TELEVISION SPECIALS (selection)

1956 Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl (host)
1960 Four For Tonight (co-star)
1960 So Help Me Aphrodite (Ernest)
1962 Arsenic and Old Lace (Mortimer Brewster
1967 The Wide Open Door (Inspector Berry/Geoffrey         Judge)
1969 The Littlest Angel (Democritus)
1977 They Said it With Music: Yankee Doodle to Ragtime         (co-host)
1981 Tony Randall's All-Star Circus (host)
1985 Curtain's Up (host)
1987 Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus (host)

FILMS

Oh Men, Oh Women, 1957, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter, 1957, The Mating Game, 1959, Pillow Talk, 1959, Let's Make Love, 1960, Lover Come Back, 1962, Send Me No Flowers, 1964, The Brass Bottle, 1964, Fluffy, 1965, Bang, Bang, You're Dead, 1966, Hello Down There, 1969, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex..., 1972; Huckleberry Finn, 1974, Scavenger Hunt, 1979, Foolin' Around, 1980, The King of Comedy, 1983, My Little Pony, 1986, That's Adequate, 1989, Gremlins 2: The New Batch (voice), 1990, Fatal Instinct, 1993.

STAGE (selection)

Circle of Chalk, 1941, Candida, 1941, The Corn Is Green, 1942, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, 1947, Anthony and Cleopatra, 1948, Caesar and Cleopatra, 1950, Oh Men, Oh Women, 1954, Inherit the Wind, 1955-56, Oh Captain, 1958, UTBU, 1966, Two Into One, 1988, M. Butterfly, 1989, A Little Hotel on the Side, 1992, Three Men on a Horse, 1993, The Government Inspector, 1994, The Odd Couple, 1994.

RADIO

I Love a Mystery; Portia Faces Life; When a Girl Marries; Life's True Story

PUBLICATION

Which Reminds Me, with Michael Mindlin. New York: Delacorte Press, 1989.

 

See also Odd Couple