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Tony Randall
Leonard Rosenberg
Feb 26, 1920 - May 17, 2004
Posted by Jo Aguirre

Tony Randall was born Leonard Rosenberg on Feb. 26, 1920 in Tulsa to Julia (née Finston) and Mogscha Rosenberg.  He was the son of an art and antique dealer. He died in his sleep on Monday, May 17, 2004 at NYU Medical Center, from pneumonia after undergoing heart bypass surgery in December. He was 84. 
 
He graduated from Tulsa Central High School, then left the state to attend Northwestern University and later Columbia University.
 
He was married to his college sweetheart, Florence Gibbs Randall, for 54 years until she died in 1992. Later that year, he married Heather Harlan, who was 50 years his junior. Randall met her through his National Actors Theatre; former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani performed the ceremony.
 
He won an Emmy for playing Felix Unger opposite Jack Klugman's Oscar Madison on the sitcom based on Neil Simon's play and movie (The Odd Couple). The show ran from 1970-75, but Randall won after it had been canceled, prompting him to quip at the awards ceremony: "I'm so happy I won. Now if I only had a job." Tony had played Felix several times, including opposite Mickey Rooney in Las Vegas. He liked the part, but he was ready for a break. He'd also bought a painting he couldn't afford. He wanted to take the summer off but found himself playing Felix in Chicago to pay for the painting. Garry Marshall saw him there and offered him the same role on the TV series. He really did not want to be tied down to a series, but his agent talked him into it.  He also became a fixture on David Letterman's late-night talk shows, appearing a record 70 times.  At the time of his death, Randall had appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show 105 times, more often than any other celebrity. He was also frequently on  What's My Line? Password, The Hollywood Squares, and the $10,000 and $20,000 Pyramids  

He appeared in minor roles on Broadway and supporting roles on tours. In the 1940s one of his first jobs 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 Newspaperman 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 Randall received a Tony Award nomination for his legendary dance turn with prima ballerina Alexandra Danilova. 
 
His first major television role was as history teacher Harvey Weskit in Mr. Peepers (1952–1955). He then starred 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. Before "The Odd Couple," he was best-known as the fussbudget pal in several Rock Hudson-Doris Day movies, including the 1959 "Pillow Talk" and 1961's "Lover Come Back."
 
He told the Oklahoman in May 1994, "The whole trick is to last. About a dozen years ago I quit my career, I quit working for myself. I had all the money I'd ever need as long as 'The Odd Couple' stays on the air. That supplies me with a wonderful income. "
 
Randall is survived by his second wife - who made him a father for the first time at age 77 - and their two children, Julia Laurette, 7, and Jefferson Salvini, 5.

He is buried in Westchester Hills Cemetery in New York. 
 

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