1 9 7 0 – 1 9 7 5 (USA)
114 x 30 minute episodes
Based on the successful Neil Simon Broadway play, starring Walter Matthau and Art Carney, this TV series posed the famous question, “Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?”
Tony Randall co-starred as Felix Unger, a photographer and mildly neurotic neatness freak who is so compulsively tidy that he has driven his wife nuts and made her feel inferior in areas such as cleaning and cooking.
She kicks him out and Felix lands on the doorstep of his long-time friend and New York Herald sportswriter Oscar Madison (also a divorcee), at Apartment 1102, 1049 Park Avenue, New York City. What starts as a temporary respite for Felix soon becomes a permanent living arrangement.
Although there are benefits for Oscar, he is none too keen on some of Felix’s habits, including his fanatical devotion to high culture and the noises he makes when attempting to clear his sinuses (he has deviated septum problems).
Of course, it’s no picnic for Felix living with Oscar either, what with his smelly cigar smoking and untidiness.
But in spite of everything their mutual need to drive each other crazy is the very bond that cements their friendship and makes it possible for them to co-exist as room-mates, even if catastrophe lies around every corner.
The conflicts were pretty obvious and endless as each upset the other’s way of life and attempted to mix with the other’s friends.
Some of the cast included: Murray the cop, Speed (a compulsive gambler) and Vinnie, a mild-mannered, meek man – all of whom were Oscar’s Thursday-night poker buddies.
Nancy Cunningham was Oscar’s girlfriend during the first season, and Myrna Turner (Penny Marshall) was his whiny secretary. The Pigeon Sisters – Cecily and Gwendolyn – were two silly English girls who lived upstairs.
Blanche, Oscar’s ex-wife, was played by Jack Klugman’s real-life wife, Brett Somers. Edna was Felix’s seldom-seen daughter who was played by two separate actresses in the series.
For two seasons, Miriam Wellby served as Felix’s girlfriend but by the final season, he had reconciled with his ex-wife, Gloria.
The situation on which the series had been built was neatly resolved in the final episode when Felix moved out to remarry Gloria.
Oscar returned to the apartment alone, looked around, and exploded into noisy, messy celebration knowing the apartment was his and only his!
The series returned to ABC’s schedule seven years later as The New Odd Couple (1982 – 1983), but with a black cast. The 13 episode series starred Ron Glass as Felix and Desmond Wilson as Oscar. The scenario was exactly the same and many of the same characters returned.
There was also a cartoon spin-off of sorts, The Oddball Couple (1975 – 1977), which featured a sloppy dog and a neat cat, both of them writers.
Tony Randall passed away on 17 May 2004. Jack Klugman died on 24 December 2012.
Officer Murray Greshner
Dr Nancy Cunningham