Tony Randall

Actor, Artistic director
Though he had a long, successful career on stage and screen, it was not until he made millions laugh as the fussy Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple" (ABC, 1970-75) that actor Tony Randall found the perfect role. Prior to ... Read more »
Born: 02/26/1920 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA

Filmography

Actor (101)

Down With Love 2003 (Movie)

Theodore Banner (Actor)

The 2001 TV Guide Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)

Actor

Brother's Keeper 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

NYTV: By the People Who Made It 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

Tony Randall: Center Stage 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)

Actor

The Magic School Bus 1994 - 1998 (TV Show)

Voice

The Magic School Bus Family Holiday Special 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)

Actor

Debbie Reynolds 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

The Dana Carvey Show 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

Jayne Mansfield: Love and Kisses 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

Kathie Lee... Looking For Christmas 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor

The 48th Annual Tony Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Fatal Instinct 1993 (Movie)

Judge Skanky (Actor)

More of the Best of the Hollywood Palace 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)

Actor

Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Spotlight Colorado 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Stars and Stripes: Hollywood and World War II 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Narrator

The 46th Annual Tony Awards 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

The Boss 1992 (Movie)

Narration (Narrator)

The Creative Spirit 1991 - 1992 (TV Show)

Actor

Gremlins 2: The New Batch 1990 (Movie)

of "Brain" Gremlin (Voice)

Night of 100 Stars III 1989 - 1990 (TV Show)

Actor

Agatha Christie's "The Man in the Brown Suit" 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope's Easter Vacation in the Bahamas 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Disney-MGM Studios Theme Park Grand Opening 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Hope News Network 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

Rock Hudson: Tall, Dark & Handsome 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Actor

That's Adequate 1989 (Movie)

Host (Actor)

Bob Hope's Christmas Show 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

NBC Investigates Bob Hope 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Walt Disney World Celebrity Circus 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Actor

Bob Hope Lampoons the New TV Scene 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)

Actor

Going Hollywood: The War Years 1987 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

My Little Pony 1986 (Movie)

of Moonchick (Voice)

The 40th Annual Tony Awards 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)

Actor

Circus of the Stars 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

The Fantasy Film World of George Pal 1985 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

The Night of 100 Stars II 1984 - 1985 (TV Show)

Actor

Off Sides 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

The 38th Annual Tony Awards 1983 - 1984 (TV Show)

Actor

Doug Henning: Magic on Broadway 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Love, Sidney 1981 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

Parade of Stars 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)

Actor

The King of Comedy 1983 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope For President 1980 - 1981 (TV Show)

Actor

Foolin' Around 1980 (Movie)

Peddicord (Actor)

The Big Show 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)

Actor

Scavenger Hunt 1979 (Movie)

Henry Motley (Actor)

Battle of the Network Stars IV 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

The Tony Randall Show 1976 - 1978 (TV Show)

Actor

Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

La Boheme 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

The Paul Lynde Comedy Hour 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Actor

Cos: The Bill Cosby Comedy Special 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

The Bob Hope Show (02/08/73) 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

The Wonderful World of Aggravation 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Top of the Month 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Hello Down There 1969 (Movie)

Fred Miller (Actor)

The Wide Open Door 1966 - 1967 (TV Show)

Actor

Our Man in Marrakesh 1966 (Movie)

Andrew Jessel (Actor)

The Alphabet Murders 1965 (Movie)

Hercule Poirot (Actor)

Fluffy 1964 (Movie)

Daniel Potter (Actor)

Send Me No Flowers 1964 (Movie)

Arnold Nash (Actor)

The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao 1963 (Movie)

Dr Lao (Actor)

The Brass Bottle 1963 (Movie)

Harold Ventimore (Actor)

Boys' Night Out 1962 (Movie)

George Drayton (Actor)

Island of Love 1962 (Movie)

Paul Ferris (Actor)

Alcoa/Goodyear Theater 1958 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Let's Make Love 1960 (Movie)

Howard Coffman (Actor)

Lover Come Back 1960 (Movie)

Peter Ramsey (Actor)

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn 1960 (Movie)

The King (Actor)

The Sid Caesar Special 1959 - 1960 (TV Show)

Actor

Pillow Talk 1959 (Movie)

Jonathan Forbes (Actor)

Holiday in Las Vegas 1957 - 1958 (TV Show)

Actor

Studio One 1948 - 1958 (TV Show)

Actor

The Mating Game 1958 (Movie)

Lorenzo Charlton (Actor)

No Down Payment 1957 (Movie)

Jerry Flagg (Actor)

Oh, Men! Oh, Women! 1957 (Movie)

Cobbler (Actor)

Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? 1957 (Movie)

Rock Hunter (Actor)

Mr. Peepers 1951 - 1955 (TV Show)

Actor

One Man's Family 1949 - 1955 (TV Show)

Actor

Curtain's Up (TV Show)

Actor

Off Sides (Movie)

(Actor)

Save the Dog! (TV Show)

Actor

Sunday Drive (TV Show)

Actor

The Littlest Angel (TV Show)

Actor

The Odd Couple (TV Show)

Actor
Music (1)

In the Life 1991 - 2001 (TV Show)

Music

Biography

Though he had a long, successful career on stage and screen, it was not until he made millions laugh as the fussy Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple" (ABC, 1970-75) that actor Tony Randall found the perfect role. Prior to his career-defining turn, Randall had appeared in a number of Broadway productions and foreshadowed Felix as an overbearing history teacher on "Mr. Peepers" (NBC, 1952-55). In features, he stole the show from Doris Day and Rock Hudson in the famous onscreen couple's three classic collaborations, hilariously playing the friend role in "Pillow Talk" (1959), "Lover Come Back" (1961) and "Send Me No Flowers" (1964). On the surface, his performances were played for laughs, but there was always an emotional vulnerability and complexity about his characters. Following the success of "The Odd Couple," Randall starred in two short-lived series, "The Tony Randall Show" (ABC/CBS, 1976-78) and the controversial "Love, Sidney" (NBC, 1981-83), where he played a not-so-closeted gay man which caused vehement response from religious groups. After that show was duly canceled, Randall swore never to star in his own series again and kept to his word. Meanwhile, he appeared less and less as he grew older, effectively retiring following a turn as a judge in "Basic Instinct" (1993). Of course, he was a frequent guest on talk shows, and held the record for appearances with David Letterman, proving that Randall's star continued to shine regardless of where he was in his career.

Born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg on Feb. 26, 1920 in Tulsa, OK, Randall was raised by his father, Mogscha, an art and antiques dealer, and his mother, Julia. After graduating from Tulsa Central High School, he spent a year studying speech and drama at Northwestern University, before moving to New York City to continue his studies at Columbia University and the Neighborhood Playhouse with renowned acting coach Sanford Meisner. Also at the time, he studied movement with Martha Graham and took voices lessons from Henri Jacobi. Following his years of training, Randall made his Broadway debut in "A Circle of Chalk" (1941), and soon turned in critically praised performances in "The Corn is Green" with Ethel Barrymore and "Candida" with Jane Cowl. Randall was set to star in Elia Kazan's "The Skin of Our Teeth," only to have his career interrupted after being called to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II. He served four years in the Signal Corps and was discharged with the rank of lieutenant. Randall wasted no time returning to acting, and moved back to New York where, after a brief stint on Harry Morgan's popular radio show, was ready to take on the theater world once again.

In the early 1950s, Randall appeared in a role that largely foreshadowed Felix Unger - overbearing Mr. Weskitt on the high school sitcom "Mr. Peepers" (NBC, 1952-55). After his stint on television, he returned to features with a breakthrough performance opposite Jayne Mansfield in "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?" (1957), which followed with a leading stage role in the musical "Oh, Captain" (1958), based on the Alec Guinness film "The Captain's Paradise" (1953). He was hilarious in the lead role of a ferry captain who had a wife in every port, and although the musical was not a critical success, the actor received a Tony Award nomination for his performance. He followed with a successful trio of romantic comedies alongside Doris Day and Rock Hudson, playing the best friend role in "Pillow Talk" (1959), "Lover Come Back" (1961), and "Send Me No Flowers" (1964). Randall played multiple roles like Merlin, Pan, Medusa and the titular Dr. Lao in the comedy "7 Faces of Dr. Lao" (1964), before portraying more straightforward characters in "The Brass Bottle" (1964), "Robin and the 7 Hoods" (1964) and the mystery spoof "The Alphabet Murders" (1965).

Following more film roles in "Our Man in Marrakesh" (1966), "The Littlest Angel" (1969) and "Hello Down There" (1969), Randall found the role with which he would forever be identified, playing neurotic neat freak Felix Unger opposite the cigar-chomping slob Oscar Madison (Jack Klugman) on the TV version of "The Odd Couple" (ABC, 1970-75). For five years, Randall and Klugman entertained audiences with a deft blend of witty dialogue and physical comedy, and while the 1968 film version was made famous by Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, both Randall and Klugman made the characters their own. In fact, Randall added his own touch of having Felix make strange noises during his sinus attacks and having him love opera as the actor did in real life. Over the course of the show's five seasons, Randall was nominated for five Golden Globes and two Emmy Awards, winning the later in 1975 for Best Actor in a Comedy Series. After "The Odd Couple" ended its esteemed run, Randall received his own show, "The Tony Randall Show" (ABC/CBS, 1976-78), where he played Walter Franklin, a stuffy judge and widower from Philadelphia. The show struggled to stay on air and was canceled after switching networks for its second season.

Though he spent most of the 1970s on the small screen, Randall did manage to tackle the occasional film role. He appeared as the operator of a NASA-like control center of a man's brain in the "What Happens During Ejaculation?" segment of Woody Allen's sex spoof, "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask") (1972). He next portrayed the father of four spoiled kids in the ensemble comedy "Scavenger Hunt" (1979) and was a tuxedoed performer in the critically derided comedy "The Gong Show Movie" (1980). Back on television, Randall played a single, middle-aged commercial artist in "Love, Sidney" (NBC, 1981-83), a character that was thought to be gay, though the series never overtly confirmed the speculation. Still, it was clear enough for most viewers and created controversy among religious and conservative groups. The series failed thanks in part to the uproar, and Randall refused to star in any more television series due to what he perceived as censorship. Instead, he returned to features and the stage, while often appearing on a number of talk and variety shows, including David Letterman's two late night shows on NBC and CBS, where Randall sat in the guest chair for a record 70 times or made unannounced cameos.

As he advanced in years, Randall was seen less and less on screen, though he did secure some voice work in the animated "My Little Pony: The Movie" (1986) and the sequel "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" (1990). Following a turn as a judge in "Basic Instinct" (1993) and a voice role as Mr. Grimm in "How the Toys Saved Christmas" (1996), Randall remained essentially retired from acting, though he did reprise Felix Unger opposite Jack Klugman's Oscard Madison - despite Klugman's throat cancer issues - for a black tie benefit performance of "The Odd Couple," which was followed by the television movie version, "The Odd Couple: Together Again" (CBS, 1993) with guest stars Penny Marshall, Jerry Adler and Dick Van Patten. Meanwhile, in 1992, Randall lost his wife of 55 years, Florence Gibbs, to cancer and remarried three years later to 25-year-old aspiring actress, Heater Harlan, when he was 50 years her senior. Regardless of the age difference, the pair had children in 1997 and 1998, which landed Randall in the tabloids for the first time in his storied career.

Meanwhile, Randall spent his later years advocating for causes, including an anti-smoking campaign, while launching the National Actors Theater in 1991 and donating $1 million to the theater in order to preserve and ensure the place of classical theater in everyday life. In fact, it was in one of his theater programs that he had met Harlan. After a long absence from the screen, Randall returned one last time for a cameo in the Ewan McGregor-Renee Zellweger romantic comedy, "Down with Love" (2003), a throwback to the 1960s sex farces that made Randall famous. In the visually stylish but under-performing romantic comedy, Randall spoofed his characters from "Pillow Talk" and "Lover Come Back." The role turned out to be the last time he appeared in film or on television. To the surprise of many, Randall died on May 17, 2004 of complications from pneumonia contracted after bypass surgery in 2003. Klugman - who believed he would predecease Randall due to his own throat cancer struggles - was devastated and wrote affectionately of his relationship with him in his memoir, Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship (2005).

By Shawn Dwyer

Relationships

Tom Bosley Actor

Cousin

Florence Gibbs

Wife
School sweethearts Married 1942 until her death April 18, 1992

Heather Harlan

Wife
Met when Harlan was understudy in production of "The School for Scandal" Married Nov. 17, 1995 until his death May 17, 2004

Julia Randall

Daughter
born April 11, 1997 mother, Heather Harlan

Jefferson Randall

Son
born on June 15, 1998 mother, Heather Harlan

EDUCATION

Northwestern University

Evanston , Illinois

Milestones

2003

Cast in the feature "Down With Love"

1998

Received a Star on the Hollywood walk of fame

1996

Voiced the character Mr. Grimm for "How the Toys Saved Christmas"

1993

Reunited with series mate Jack Klugman for the feature "The Odd Couple: Together Again"

1991

Established National Actors Theater on Broadway in the fall, a non-profit acting company to present theatrical classics

1981

Starred in the comedy-drama, "Love, Sidney" and performed the theme song

1976

Had his own TV program, "The Tony Randall Show"

1969

Starred as Felix Unger on TV show, "The Odd Couple"

1959

Appeared in three Rock Hudson-Doris Day films, the first "Pillow Talk"

1957

First starring role, as title character of the feature, "Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?"

1957

Feature acting debut, "Oh Men! Oh Women!"

1941

Served in US Army

1940

Broadway acting debut, "Circle of Chalk"

Supplied the voice of Reggie, one third of the adventurous trio on the radio series, "I Love a Mystery"

Bonus Trivia

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Inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 1998

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