Tony Randall and Jack Klugman return for the fifth year as Felix Unger and Oscar Madison in “The Odd Couple,” opening in the fall with a Sunday, instead of Friday, time slot.
By Don Royal
Ensconced in a new Sunday time slot at 6:30 pm, “The Odd Couple” launches its fifth season this fall of recounting the madcap experiences of Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, two of Neil Simon’s most endearing and enduring characters.
As intercepted by Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, who also appeared in a stage version of the series. Felix, the prissy photographer, and Oscar, the sloppy sportswriter, have become part of the folklore of television comedy.
Tony Randall’s expertise in the role of Felix Unger is reflected in his three Emmy nominations since the inception of the series, adding luster to an acting career that has ranged from the Broadway stage to Hollywood films.
In the early days of television, Randall gained national acclaim and an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Weskitt in the popular “Mr. Peepers” series.
When recently asked how he “faced the challenge” of performing in “The Odd Couple,” Tony replied, “by eating properly and getting plenty of sleep and exercise. The only challenge is a physical one — being able to put in long hours on the set without ever doing anything less than my absolute best work.”
Swearing never to do another series when “Mr Peepers” went off the air in 1955, Tony said he was persuaded by “the best material” he’d been offered in 15 years.
“The series scripts are very close to the original Neil Simon concept. Whenever anything comes up with the Simon label on it, I’ll do it.”
Tony is a collector of paintings and antique furniture and owns an impressive collection of classical and operatic albums. He has recorded two satirical albums spoofing the music of the ’30s, and, with Jack Klugman, has recorded “The Odd Couple Sings.”
It was Randall’s casting in “The Odd Couple” that persuaded Jack Klugman to sign as costar. “With Tony in it, I figured this hadda be a class operation,” he says. “Then I read the pilot script and fell down.”
When Jack met with the producers for the first time he arrived all spruced-up with a new sports jacket, nice pair of slacks. The producers were overjoyed.
“We’ve been looking all over for this kind of sloppy stuff. It’s classic. We’d like to buy it from you.”
‘Those were my best clothes.” recalls Klugman. “Now you know how close to sportswriter slob Oscar Madison I am. I am Oscar.”