(1920 - 2004)
Tony Randall, born Leonard Rosenberg on Feb. 26, 1920,
in Tulsa, Oklahoma, died Monday, May 18, 2004 of pneumonia; complications
from heart bypass surgery he had undergone in December 2003; he was
Tony Randall worked opposite Rock Hudson, Doris Day,
David Letterman, Johnny Carson and, most famously, Jack Klugman in his
role as Felix in "The Odd Couple." He won an Emmy Award as
the fastidious Felix opposite the sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison,
played by Jack Klugman.
While Randall gained his greatest fame on TV, he also
loved the theater, and it pained him that America never had a national
repertory. He even noted that even before Israel was created it had
a national theater, Habimah.
In 1991, Randall founded the National Actors Theatre, putting in $1
million of his own money, to present classics by such twentieth century
playwrights as Clifford Odets and Arthur Miller, as well as Ibsen, Chekhov
and Shakespeare. As a consummate performer, Randall lamented having
to work with co-stars he considered not up to par. He complained, for
example, that Marilyn Monore, "was not a competent actor. She did
one line at a time - cut - then she did the next line. Impossible! That's
not what I call an actor."
Florence, Randall's wife of 54 years, died in 1992.
They had no children. Three years later, at age 75, he married 25-year-old
actress Heather Harlan in a City Hall ceremony conducted by Mayor Rudolph
Giuliani. At 77, Randall became a father for the first time when Heather
had a baby girl, Julia, named for his mother. A year later, his wife
gave birth to a son.
Sources: Boxer, Tim. "The Jewish Rise of Tony Randall," The
Jewish Week, 05/21/2004