Today is the 96th birthday of Tony Randall. Watching him act is like watching a scientist perform experiments: precise, exact, trained. Watching Tony Randall talk about acting is like sneaking into a Masters Class and learning something you had absolutely no idea even existed. Tony Randall was an actor’s actor, he loved them, he supported them, he was one of them. The world is a better place because he was in it and still feels the loss that he has left.
NAME: Tony Randall
OCCUPATION: Television Actor
BIRTH DATE: February 26, 1920
DEATH DATE: May 17, 2004
EDUCATION: Northwestern University, Columbia University
PLACE OF BIRTH: Tulsa, Oklahoma
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
ORIGINALLY: Leonard Rosenberg
Actor. Born Leonard Rosenberg on February 26, 1920 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After graduating from Northwestern University where he studied drama, Randall moved to New York City to attend Columbia University and train at the Neighborhood Playhouse. He was soon drafted into the Army to serve in the Signal Corps during World War II. When the war was over, Randall resumed his career as a radio actor, most notably in the role of Reggie on the adventure serial I Love a Mystery.
Randall made his name on Broadway in the 1950s, starring in the musical Oh, Captain and Inherit the Wind. He made his film debut in 1957 with Oh, Men, Oh Women, and followed with the comedy Pillow Talk in 1959 and Lover Come Back in 1961. Though he received his share of forgettable starring film roles, including Fluffy in 1964, he received critical acclaim for his work in the film The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao.
Television audiences will likely best remember Randall for his role of buttoned-up Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, which ran from 1969-1974. In addition to appearing on numerous game and panel shows, Randall enjoyed an extensive television career that included Mr. Peepers (1952-1953) and (1969-1974), his own short-lived TV series called The Tony Randall Show (1976) and Love, Sidney (1981-1983).
Active in several liberal and humanitarian causes, Randall has often put his career on the line to let his opinions be known. He delivered an anti-Vietnam speech in the late 1960s and has been known to speak out against the dangers of cigarette smoking. During the summer of 1980, he served as the celebrity host of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra‘s concerts in Central Park, New York City. In 1991, Randall created the National Actors Theater, a New York-based repertory company devoted to American and British classics.
In 1995, after the death of his wife and companion Florence, Randall earned media attention when he married Heather Harlan, a woman 50 years his junior. The couple met while she was an intern at the National Actors Theatre. They have two children.
Randall died in May 2004 in New York. He was 84.