Tony Randall Jewish Name - Arthur Leonard Rosenberg
Tony Randall (February
26, 1920 May 17, 2004) was an American actor, comic, producer and
Tony Randall was born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg to a Jewish family in
Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Julia (nιe Finston) and Mogscha
Rosenberg, an art and antiques dealer. Tony Randall attended
Tulsa Central High School.
Tony Randall attended Northwestern University for a year before
traveling to New York City to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse
School of the Theatre. Tony Randall studied under Sanford Meisner
and choreographer Martha Graham around 1935. As Anthony Tony
Randall, Tony Randall worked onstage opposite stars Jane Cowl in
George Bernard Shaw's Candida and Ethel Barrymore in Emlyn
Williams's The Corn Is Green. Tony 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
Tony Randall worked at the Olney Theatre in Montgomery County,
Maryland before heading back to New York City. Prior to his
appearance in "Candida", Tony Randall worked as an announcer at
radio station WTAG, Worcester MA.
Tony 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. In 1946, Tony Randall was cast as one of the
brothers in a touring production of Katharine Cornell's revival of
The Barretts of Wimpole Street. His first major role in a
Broadway hit was in Inherit the Wind in 1955 portraying Newspaperman
E. K. Hornbeck (based on real life cynic H. L. Mencken). In 1958,
Tony Randall played the leading role in the musical comedy Oh,
Captain!, taking on a role originated on film by Alec Guinness. Oh,
Captain! was a financial failure, but a personal success for Tony
Randall, who received glowing notices and a Tony Award nomination
for his legendary dance turn with prima ballerina Alexandra
Tony Randall is perhaps best known for his work on television. His
breakthrough role was as history teacher Harvey Weskit in Mr.
Peepers (19521955). Tony Randall 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, Tony Randall returned in 1970
as fussbudget Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, opposite Jack Klugman,
a role Tony Randall would keep for five years. The names of Unger's
children on The Odd Couple were Edna and Leonard, named after Tony
Randall's sister and Tony Randall himself. In 1974, Tony Randall and
Jack Klugman appeared in television spots endorsing a Yahtzee
spinoff, Challenge Yahtzee. They appeared in character as Felix and
Oscar, and the TV spots were filmed on the same set as The Odd
Subsequently, Tony Randall starred in The Tony Randall Show, in
which Tony Randall 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 what Tony
Randall perceived as censorship (plus the series' lack of
acceptance), Tony Randall refused to star in any more television
Tony Randall was the host during the breaks for the October 30
November 2, 1987 free preview of HBO's short-lived premium channel
In September 1993, Tony 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 ruined plans for his daughter Edna's wedding, his wife Gloria
threw him out of the house for 11 days, which left him no choice but
to move back in with Oscar and to help him recover, getting him back
in shape after throat cancer surgery left his voice very raspy.
Tony Randall 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 J. Tuttle's makeup artistry.
Tony Randall's other film roles included Oh, Men! Oh, Women! (1957)
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 hand prints 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 Tony Randall all starred. Tony 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 Renιe Zellweger in the Doris Day role,
Ewan McGregor in the Rock Hudson, and David Hyde Pierce as the Tony
Randall character, with Tony Randall himself playing McGregor's
In 1991, Tony Randall founded the National Actors Theatre
(ultimately housed at Pace University in New York City) where
starred in The Inspector General(1994), Three Men on a Horse (1993),
and gave his final stage performance in Luigi Pirandello's Right You
Are (If You Think You Are) in 2003.
Periodically, Tony Randall performed in stage revivals of The Odd
Couple with Jack Klugman including a stint in London in 1996. The
following year, Tony Randall and Klugman reunited to appear on
Broadway in a revival of The Sunshine Boys. From 1988 to 1990, Tony
Randall appeared in John Dexter's production of M. Butterfly.
On September 4, 1955, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman appeared
together with Gena Rowlands in the episode "The Pirate's House" of
the CBS anthology series, Appointment with Adventure.
Tony Randall 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. Tony Randall also admitted to (actually bragged
about) sneaking tape recorders into operas to make his own private
bootleg recordings. Tony Randall would often chide Johnny Carson for
his chain-smoking, and was generally fastidious and fussy, much like
his Felix Unger characterization. Tony Randall seemed to have a
wealth of facts and trivia at his disposal, and Tony Randall 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, Tony Randall had appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show 105
times, more often than any other celebrity.
Tony Randall appeared frequently on What's My Line?, Password, The
Hollywood Squares, and the $10,000 and $20,000 Pyramids. Tony
Randall also sent up his somewhat pompous image with a single
appearance as a "contestant" on The Gong Show in 1977.
First aired on October 11th of 1980, Tony Randall was a guest star
on the 5th and final season of The Muppet Show. This was the 100th
episode of the show.
Tony 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. Tony Randall would also appear in
Conan's 5th Anniversary Special with the character PimpBot 5000.
Tony 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 Tony Randall
was one of his favorite guests, along with Regis Philbin.
On November 7, 1994, Tony Randall appeared on the game show
Jeopardy!, as part of a Special Edition Celebrity ''Jeopardy!''
episode, playing on behalf of the National Actors Theatre. Tony
Randall came in second place after General Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr.
and before Actress Stefanie Powers, with a final score of $9,900.
In 1999, Tony Randall was featured in the Simpsons episode "Maximum
Homerdrive" (season 10, episode 17). A picture of Tony 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
In 1973, Tony Randall and Jack Klugman recorded an album called "The
Odd Couple Sings" for London Records. Roland Shaw and The London
Festival Orchestra and Chorus provided the music and additional
vocals. The record was not a chart-topper but is a highly
sought-after item for many Odd Couple fans.
A noted raconteur, Tony 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 Tony Randall loved, during the Big Band era revival in
the mid-1960s Tony Randall 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." Tony Randall 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.
Tony Randall was an avid fan of the opera and quite knowledgeable on
the subject. Tony Randall was a frequent guest on the Opera Quiz
intermission features of the Saturday afternoon broadcasts from the
Tony Randall was an advocate for the arts. During the summer of
1980, Tony Randall served as the celebrity host of the New York
Philharmonic Orchestra's concerts in Central Park, New York City.
Tony Randall was also active with liberal political causes. During
the U.S. presidential primaries in 1972, Tony Randall appeared as
the featured celebrity at numerous fundraising house-parties for
Democratic candidate George McGovern.
Personal life Tony Randall's headstone in Westchester Hills Cemetery
Tony Randall was married to Florence Gibbs from 1942 until her death
from cancer in 1992. The following year, Tony Randall said, "I wish
I believed I'd see my parents again, see my wife again. But I know
it's not going to happen." Tony Randall remarried on November
17, 1995, to Heather Harlan, an intern in one of his theatrical
programs. At the time, Tony was 75, Heather 25. The couple
subsequently had two children, Julia Laurette Tony Randall (b. 1997)
and Jefferson Salvini Tony Randall (b. 1998), and they remained
married until his death in 2004.
In his book Which Reminds Me, Tony Randall 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", Tony
Randall proclaimed. But by 1995, Tony Randall 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 the two became parents,
not everyone was convinced the couple was completely forthright
regarding how the babies were conceived.
Tony Randall died in his sleep on May 17, 2004, at NYU Medical
Center of complications from pneumonia Tony Randall contracted
following bypass surgery in December 2003. Tony Randall is interred
at the Westchester Hills Cemetery in Hastings-on-Hudson, New
1957 Oh, Men! Oh, Women! Cobbler
1957 Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Rockwell P.
Hunter/Himself/Lover Doll Nominated Golden Globe Award for Best
Actor Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
1957 No Down Payment Jerry Flagg
1959 The Mating Game Lorenzo Charlton
1959 Pillow Talk Jonathan Forbes Nominated Golden Globe Award for
Best Supporting Actor Motion Picture
1960 The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The King of France
1960 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
1962 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
1964 The Brass Bottle Harold Ventimore
1964 Robin and the 7 Hoods Hood (uncredited)
1964 Send Me No Flowers Arnold
1965 Fluffy Prof. Daniel Potter
1965 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
1980 Foolin' Around Peddicord
1983 The King of Comedy Himself
1986 My Little Pony: The Movie The Moochick (voice)
1987 The Gnomes' Great Adventure Gnome King/Ghost of the Black Lake
1988 The Man in the Brown Suit Rev. Edward Chicester/Miss Wilke/Stewardess
Agatha Christie TV Movie
1989 It Had to Be You Milton
1989 That's Adequate Host
1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Brain Gremlin (voice)
1991 The Boss Narrator (voice)
1993 Fatal Instinct Judge Skanky
1996 How the Toys Saved Christmas Mr. Grimm (voice)
2003 Down with Love Theodore Banner
2005 It's About Time Mr. Rosenberg
Awards and nominations
Tony Randall was nominated for five Golden Globe awards and six Emmy
Awards, winning one Emmy in 1975 for his work on the sitcom The Odd
Couple. In 1993, Tony Randall 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.
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