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Randall, Tony


RANDALL, TONY (Leonard Rosenberg ; 1920–2004). Born in Tulsa, Okla., Randall enrolled as a speech and drama major at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., but dropped out after a year and moved to New York, where he studied acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse. In the early 1940s he got a start in radio, appearing in mysteries; his distinctive voice was heard on soap operas like Portia Faces Life. He made his New York stage debut in an adaptation of the 13th-century Chinese fantasy A Circle of Chalk and later that year appeared in Shaw's Candida. After his discharge from the army in 1946, he returned to New York. By 1950 he was appearing in Caesar and Cleopatra and two years later he won a role as a teacher in Mr. Peepers, playing opposite Wally Cox as his posturing, swaggering sidekick. His portrayal earned him an Emmy nomination and his career took off. He appeared in three Doris Day-Rock Hudson movies: Lover Come Back, Pillow Talk, and Send Me No Flowers, often as the foil to Hudson's romantic leads. He had similar roles in Let's Make Love (with Marilyn Monroe) and Boys Night Out (with Kim Novak).

Randall was best known for comedy, particularly his signature role as the fussbudget Felix Unger in the classic television series The Odd Couple (1970–75), based on Neil *Simon's play and movie. Randall's roommate and temperamental opposite on the show was the slovenly, unkempt, cigar-smoking sportswriter, played by Jack *Klugman. Randall had a great love for repertory theater, and in 1991, with a million dollars of his own money and much more from friends and moneyed associates, he founded the National Actors Theater in New York. Its purpose was to keep the works of playwrights like Ibsen, Chekhov and Arthur *Miller before the public, at a reasonable price. As he gained fame as an actor, Randall became active in a number of causes, including a futile effort to save the old Metropolitan Opera House in New York. He was national chairman of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation for 30 years, and supported medical and artistic organizations. A member of Congregation Rodeph Shalom in New York, he was also prominent in many Jewish scientific and educational philanthropies.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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