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TV Series - The Odd Couple

Updated on September 16, 2014

The Odd Couple

One of my favorite sitcoms from the seventies was The Odd Couple. It starred Jack Klugman as Oscar Madison and Tony Randall as Felix Unger. It was based on the successful Neil Simon play, and ran from 1970 through 1975.

The show centered around Felix and Oscar, who were two divorced men. Felix was a neat freak, while Oscar was a sloppy sports buff. They share the same apartment, and their vastly different lifestyles lead to some hilarious conflicts.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Jack Klugman (left) and Tony Randall, were the show's stars.

Photo courtesy classic-tv.com

All Five Seasons-Complete DVD Set

The Odd Couple - The Complete Series, Seasons 1-5
The Odd Couple - The Complete Series, Seasons 1-5

Two divorced New Yorkers---a slob and a fussbudget---try to live together "without driving each other crazy" in this classic sitcom based on Neil Simon's hit play and movie. Both Jack Klugman and Tony Randall won Emmys in the leads, the latter in the final year of a five-season run.

 

Show's Background

The massive success of the 1968 film version of the stage play of The Odd Couple, which starred Jack Lemmon as Felix and Walter Matthau as Oscar, was the catalyst to bringing the characters to a television show. The original casting considerations for the TV program included Mickey Rooney or Martin Balsam as Oscar and Dean Martin or Art Carney as Felix. (Carney had originated the role on Broadway.) Eventually, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall were hired. Both had starred in different versions of the play. Randall, who was hired first, had still wanted Mickey Rooney to play Oscar. The show's co-executive producer, Garry Marshall, had to lobby to get Klugman successfully hired. Once the casting was in place, the show's writers (Marshall, Jerry Belson, Jerry Paris, Harvey Miller, Bob Brunner, Mark Rothman and Lowell Ganz, among others) came up with a variety of situations for Felix and Oscar to be in, while always staying true to the main premise of the play, which always centered on the human tensions between the two that created the comic situations.

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Airing History

The show premiered on ABC on Thursday, September 24, 1970. During the first season, the show was filmed like a movie with just one camera, using an apartment set resembling the film version; a laugh track was used (to which Tony Randall objected). Thereafter, the show was filmed with three cameras and performed like a stage play in front of a studio audience: a laugh track was used only to sweeten the live reactions. The apartment set appeared the same, but was reversed; the kitchen was now on the left of the stage, and the hallway to their bedrooms was on the right side.

The show performed poorly in the Nielsen ratings and was canceled at the end of every season. But ABC renewed the show for each upcoming season because the ratings for the summer reruns were solid.

The final original episode, aired on March 7, 1975, was entitled "Felix Remarries." In it, Felix finally wins Gloria back and they remarry as Oscar regains his single status.The 114 episodes quickly found a successful run in syndication where they found a new audience which continues to endure to this day.

Odd Couple Bloopers

The Odd Couple on DVD

 

Awards and Accolades

During its original run, the show had struggled in the ratings (the show never cracked the Top 25 programs Nielsen ratings list during its entire run). However, both actors were nominated for Emmy Awards in each year of the show's run. Jack Klugman won two Emmy Awards for his role (in 1971 and 1973) and Tony Randall won an Emmy as well (in 1975, in which, upon acceptance of the award, he commented on the fact that he wished he currently "had a job", since the show had been cancelled). Klugman was also nominated for a Golden Globe in 1972 and won one in 1974. The show itself was also nominated for an Emmy Award in the years 1971, 1972 and 1974 for Outstanding Comedy Series.

The Star's Biographies

Biographies of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall.

Jack Klugman Biography

Jack Klugman is an American stage, film and television actor, known for his roles in sitcoms, movies, television and on Broadway. He is best-known for his role as Tony Randall's sloppy roommate, Oscar Madison, in The Odd Couple shown on American television during the 1970s, and for his starring role in Quincy, M.E., in the 1970s and 1980s. He attended Carnegie Mellon University and graduated in 1948. In 1957, he appeared in the film 12 Angry Men as juror number 5 and is the last surviving actor who played a juror in that movie.

Born in Philadelphia, Jack Klugman began acting after serving in the United States Army during World War II. A struggling actor in New York City, Klugman was a roommate of fellow actor Charles Bronson before he and Bronson became successful.

Klugman starred in several classic films including 12 Angry Men in 1957 (which he says is his favorite film), Days of Wine and Roses in 1962, and Goodbye, Columbus in 1969. He had also won an Emmy Award for his work on the television series The Defenders and appeared in four episodes of the acclaimed series The Twilight Zone (Klugman tied with Burgess Meredith for the most starring appearances by any actor on the series). Klugman says his greatest thrill was appearing with Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda in a 1955 live television broadcast of The Petrified Forest.

He is best known for his starring roles in two popular television series of the 1970s and early 1980s: The Odd Couple (1970-1975) and Quincy, M.E. (1976-1983). Jack also starred in the original Broadway production of The Odd Couple, after replacing Walter Matthau. He won two Emmy Awards for the television version of The Odd Couple.

Klugman was nominated for a Tony Award in 1960 for Best Supporting Actor (Musical) for his role in Gypsy, losing to Tom Bosley in Fiorello! During the pre-Broadway tryout tour in 1959, several songs were cut, including a song for the....(read more at Wikipedia)

Tony Randall Biography

Tony Randall was an actor, comic, producer and director. He was born Arthur Leonard Rosenberg in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of Julia (née Finston) and Mogscha Rosenberg, an art and antiques dealer. He attended Tulsa Central High School.

Randall attended Northwestern University for a year before traveling to New York City to study at the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre. He studied under Sanford Meisner and choreographer Martha Graham around 1935. As Anthony Randall, he worked onstage opposite stars Jane Cowl in George Bernard Shaw's Candida and Ethel Barrymore in Emlyn Williams' The Corn Is Green. 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 he worked at the Olney Theatre in Montgomery County, Maryland before heading back to New York City.

Randall on a 1963 episode of What's My Line?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, he 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 Newpaperman E.K. Hornbeck (based on real life cynic H.L. Mencken ). In 1958 he 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 Randall, who received glowing notices and a Tony Award nomination for his legendary dance turn with prima ballerina Alexandra Danilova.

He is perhaps best known for his work on television. His breakthrough role was as history teacher Harvey Weskit in Mr. Peepers (1952-1955). He 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, he returned in 1970 as fussbudget Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, opposite Jack Klugman, a role he would keep for five years. The names of Unger's children on The Odd Couple were Edna and Leonard, named after Randall's sister and Randall himself. In 1974, Randall and Jack Klugman appeared in television spots endorsing a Yahtzee spinoff, Challenge Yahtzee. Although they were not identified as Felix and Oscar, the TV spots were filmed on....(read more at Wikipedia)

Thoughts on The Odd Couple? - Feel free to comment here. Thanks for the visit!

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    • JollyvilleChick profile image

      JollyvilleChick 7 years ago

      I was a big fan of the show. Felix's honking to clear his sinuses was funny to me. And I guess the life-lesson is that true friends can get along with each other despite their differences.

    • AppalachianCoun profile image

      AppalachianCoun 7 years ago

      Fun lens, lots of memories! 5*

    • mbgphoto profile image

      Mary Beth Granger 8 years ago from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA

      I always loved The Odd Couple. Thanks for the memories.