Tony Randall dies

May 18, 2004 by Ian Evans

Tony Randall, best-loved for his role of Felix Unger on TV’s The Odd Couple, has died. He was 84.

The comic actor passed away in his sleep Monday night at the NYU Medical Center. He had been suffering from a long illness after developing pneumonia following heart bypass surgery in December. He is survived by his wife, Heather Harlan Randall and two children, Julia Laurette, seven, and 5-year-old Jefferson Salvini. Randall became a father for the first time at age 77.

His last performance was in Right You Are, a revival performed at the National Actors Theatre, which he founded. As a tribute to the stage and screen actor, Broadway theaters will dim their lights at 8 p.m. this evening.

TV’s The Odd Couple ran from 1970 to 1975. Audiences responded to the chemistry between Randall and co-star Jack Klugman. They played polar opposite friends who were forced to share an apartment after both men divorce. Randall won an Emmy for the show the year after it was cancelled. Accepting the award, he joked, “I’m so happy I won. Now if I only had a job.”

He’d return to TV from 1976-1978 in The Tony Randall Show and from 1981 to 1983 he had the lead in Love, Sidney. Though the character in Love, Sydney was based on a TV movie character that was gay, the sexual orientation of the series character was implied.

Besides stage and TV, Tony also appeared in films in the Rock Hudson/Doris Day romantic comedies Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.