Tony Randall: Wikis


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Tony Randall

Randall in 2003
Born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg
February 26, 1920(1920-02-26)
Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died May 17, 2004 (aged 84)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor/Comedian
Years active 1940s – 2003

Tony Randall (February 26, 1920 – May 17, 2004) was an American actor , comic, producer and director.[1][2]


Early years

Randall was born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Julia (née Finston) and Mogscha Rosenberg, who was an art and antiques dealer.[3] He attended Tulsa Central High School.[4]

Randall then attended Northwestern University for a year before traveling to New York City to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He studied under Sanford Meisner and choreographer Martha Graham around 1935. Under the name Anthony Randall, he worked onstage opposite stars Jane Cowl in George Bernard Shaw's Candida and Ethel Barrymore in Emlyn Williams's The Corn Is Green. Randall then served for four years with the United States Army Signal Corps in World War II, refusing an entertainment assignment with Special Services. Then he worked at the Olney Theatre in Montgomery County, Maryland before heading back to New York City.


Randall on a 1963 episode of What's My Line?

Randall began his career on the stage, appearing in minor roles on Broadway, and supporting roles on tours. In the 1940s one of his first breaks was playing "Reggie" on the long-running radio series I Love a Mystery. His first major role in a Broadway hit was in Inherit the Wind in 1955. In 1958 he played the leading role in the musical comedy Oh, Captain!, taking on a role originated on film by Alec Guinness. Oh, Captain! was a critical failure, but a personal success for Randall, who received glowing notices and a Tony Award nomination for his legendary dance turn with prima ballerina Alexandra Danilova.



He is perhaps best known for his work on television. His breakthrough role was as history teacher Harvey Weskit in Mr. Peepers (1952–1955). He had the starring role in an NBC-TV special "The Secret of Freedom" which was filmed during the summer of 1959 in Mount Holly, New Jersey, and broadcast on the network during the fall of 1959 and again in early 1960.

After a long hiatus from the medium, he returned in 1970 as fussbudget Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, opposite Jack Klugman, a role he would keep for five years. The names of Unger's children on The Odd Couple were Edna and Leonard, named after Randall's sister and Randall himself. In 1974, Randall and Jack Klugman appeared in television spots endorsing a Yahtzee spinoff, Challenge Yahtzee. Although not identified as Felix and Oscar the TV spots were filmed on the same set as The Odd Couple.

Subsequently, he starred in The Tony Randall Show, in which he played a Philadelphia judge, and Love, Sidney. In the TV movie that served as the latter show's pilot, Sidney Shorr was clearly written as a gay man, but his character's sexuality was made ambiguous when the series premiered. Disappointed by this turn of events and the series' lack of acceptance, Randall stayed away from television series.

Years later he was the host during the breaks for the October 30 - November 2, 1987 free preview of HBO's short lived premium channel Festival.

In September 1993, Randall and Jack Klugman reunited once again in the CBS-TV Movie The Odd Couple: Together Again reprising their roles as Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. The story began when, after Felix ruins plans for his daughter Edna's wedding, his wife Gloria throws him out the house for 11 days which left him no choice but to move back with Oscar and to help him recover, getting him back in shape after throat cancer surgery left his voice very raspy.


He starred as nearly all of the leading characters in the 1964 cult classic film 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, co-starring Barbara Eden. The film received an Oscar for William Tuttle's makeup artistry.

Randall's other film roles included Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957), The Mating Game (1959), Pillow Talk (1959), Let's Make Love (1960), Boys' Night Out (1962), The Brass Bottle (1964), Hello Down There (1969), The King of Comedy (1983) and Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990).

The handprints of Tony Randall in front of The Great Movie Ride at Walt Disney World's Disney's Hollywood Studios theme park.

Pillow Talk was the first of three movies in which Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Randall all starred. Randall, by all accounts, ended up with the best lines ("It takes an early bird to take a worm like me"; on the crying Doris Day: "I never knew a woman that size had that much water in her", etc). The other two are Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1963). Elements from the plots of these films, particularly Pillow Talk, were parodied in the 2003 comedy Down With Love, with Renée Zellweger in the Doris Day role, Ewan McGregor in the Rock Hudson, and David Hyde Pierce as the Tony Randall character. Randall's final role was in this film.


In 1991, he founded the National Actors Theatre (ultimately housed at Pace University in New York City) where he gave his final stage performance in Luigi Pirandello's Right You Are (If You Think You Are) in 2003.

Periodically, he performed in stage revivals of The Odd Couple with Jack Klugman including a stint in London in 1996. The following year, Randall and Klugman reunited to appear on Broadway in a revival of The Sunshine Boys.

Guest appearances

He was a frequent and popular guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and often spoke of his love of opera, claiming it was due in no small part to the salaciousness of many of the plotlines. He also admitted to (actually bragged about) sneaking tape recorders into operas to make his own private bootleg recordings. He would often chide Johnny Carson for his chain-smoking, and was generally fastidious and fussy, much like his Felix Unger characterization. He seemed to have a wealth of facts and trivia at his disposal, and he told Carson that the secret was simply "to retain everything you were supposed to have learned in elementary school." At the time of his death, Randall had appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show more often (105 times) than any other celebrity.

Randall, along with John Goodman and Drew Barrymore was one of the first guests on the debut episode of Late Night with Conan O'Brien on 13 September 1993. He would also appear in Conan's 5th Anniversary Special with the character PimpBot 5000. Randall was also a frequent guest on both of David Letterman's late-night shows Late Night with David Letterman and The Late Show with David Letterman, making 70 appearances, according to his obituary in the Washington Post; Letterman said that Randall was one of his favorite guests, along with Regis Philbin.

Randall appeared frequently on What's My Line?, Password, The Hollywood Squares, and the $10,000 and $20,000 Pyramids. He also sent up his somewhat pompous image with a single appearance as a "contestant" on The Gong Show in 1977.

In 1999, Randall was featured in the Simpsons episode "Maximum Homerdrive" (season 10, episode 17). A picture of Randall is seen on a wall of fame in a steakhouse, displaying the only two persons who have finished a 16-lb. steak called "Sir Loinalot".

Other creative activities

A noted raconteur, Randall co-wrote with Mike Mindlin a collection of amusing and sometimes racy show business anecdotes called Which Reminds Me, published in 1989.

In keeping with his penchant for both championing and mocking the culture that he loved, during the Big Band era revival in the mid-1960s he produced a record album of 1930s songs, Vo Vo De Oh Doe, inspired by (and covering) The New Vaudeville Band's one-hit wonder, "Winchester Cathedral." He mimicked (and somewhat exaggerated) the vibrato style of Carmen Lombardo, and the two of them once sang a duet of Lombardo's signature song "Boo Hoo (You've Got Me Crying for You)" on The Tonight Show.

Personal life

Randall's headstone in Westchester Hills Cemetery

Randall was married to Florence Gibbs from 1942 until her death from cancer in 1992. The following year, he said, "I wish I believed I'd see my parents again, see my wife again. But I know it's not going to happen." (Washington Post, September 25, 2003) He remarried on November 17, 1995 to Heather Harlon, an intern in one of his theatrical programs. At the time, Tony was 75, Heather 25. The couple subsequently had two children, Julia Laurette Randall (b. 1997) and Jefferson Salvini Randall (b. 1998), and they remained married until his death in 2004.

In his book Which Reminds Me, he proclaimed that any publicity an actor generates should be about his work, not himself. "The public knows only one thing about me: I don't smoke," he proclaimed. But by 1995, he revised his opinion, and made his engagement and marriage to Harlan, and subsequent fatherhood, quite public. For the most part, the media treated the marriage in a light-hearted spirit, but when children entered the picture, not everyone was convinced the couple was completely forthright.[5] Randall was a doting and loving father, Heather would later recount, who faced death bravely, and felt great sorrow to leave his children behind.

Randall died in his sleep at NYU Medical Center of complications from pneumonia he contracted following bypass surgery in December 2003. He is interred at the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York.[1][2]


Year Film Role Notes
1957 Oh, Men! Oh, Women! Cobbler
Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Rockwell P. Hunter/Himself/Lover Doll Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
No Down Payment Jerry Flagg
1959 The Mating Game Lorenzo Charlton
Pillow Talk Jonathan Forbes Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1960 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The King of France
Let's Make Love Alexander Coffman
1961 Lover Come Back Peter 'Pete' Ramsey Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
1962 Boys' Night Out George Drayton
Two Weeks in Another Town Ad Lib in Lounge (uncredited)
1963 Island of Love Paul Ferris
1964 7 Faces of Dr. Lao Dr. Lao / Merlin / Pan / Abominable Snowman / Medusa / Giant Serpent
The Brass Bottle Harold Ventimore
Robin and the 7 Hoods Hood (uncredited)
Send Me No Flowers Arnold
1965 Fluffy Prof. Daniel Potter
The Alphabet Murders Hercule Poirot
1966 Our Man in Marrakesh Andrew Jessel
1969 Hello Down There Fred Miller
1972 Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) The Operator
1979 Scavenger Hunt Henry Motley
1980 The Gong Show Movie Performer in Tuxedo
Foolin' Around Peddicord
1986 My Little Pony: The Movie The Moochick (voice)
1987 The Gnomes' Great Adventure Gnome King/Ghost of the Black Lake (voice)
1989 It Had to Be You Milton
That's Adequate Host
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Brain Gremlin (voice)
1991 The Boss Narrator (voice)
1993 Fatal Instinct Judge Skanky
1996 La freccia azzurra Mr. Grimm (voice)
2003 Down with Love Theodore Banner
2005 It's About Time Mr. Rosenberg

Awards and nominations

Randall was nominated for five Golden Globe awards and two Emmy Awards, winning one Emmy in 1975 for his work on the sitcom The Odd Couple. In 1993, he received The Hundred Year Association of New York's Gold Medal Award "in recognition of outstanding contributions to the City of New York." Pace University granted him an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree in 2003.


Further reading

  • Memoirs: Which Reminds Me by Tony Randall and Michael Mindlin. (New York: Delacorte Press, 1989), ISBN 0-385-29785-8

External links

Simple English

[[File:|right|thumb|Randall, Tony]] Tony Randall (February 26, 1920 - May 17 2004) was an American actor. He was best known for his role as Felix Unger on the TV show The Odd Couple.

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