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Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Last Angry Man. 3.

Jack Klugman and Tony Randall had this extremely strange relationship.
Away from the stage, or the set, I don't think they ever spent a moment's time together.
Jack never took Tony to the racetrack, and Tony never took Jack to the opera.
I don't think they ever went out to eat together, except maybe at the commissary.
But they were the closest of friends.
And it was as if they made a pact with each other to never disagree about anything in public.
They were always supportive of each other.
What went on behind closed doors, nobody knows.
But when people could see them, they were always in each other's corner.
An example Martin and Lewis and Abbott and Costello should have followed.

I've seen it written that Jack was such a good actor that people kept hiring him
after his throat cancer surgery, where his voice was but a croak.
Tony kept hiring him for his theater in New York.
I witnessed some of those shows.
Jack was barely audible.
Tony kept hiring him because he singlehandedly wanted to pump life in Jack's career,
and thus, his soul.
Jack engendered that kind of loyalty.
Garry Marshall did the same kind of thing for him.

Tony would not let anyone smoke on the Odd Couple set.
Except Jack, who smoked like a chimney.
But they made the concession that they would keep a respectful distance whenever Jack would light up.
This did not keep Tony from harping on Jack to quit entirely.
One time, there was a real shouting match after a rehearsal, and one of the producers said something untoward when Jack started picking on the writing.
Jack was apoplectic about being challenged.
Veins were practically popping out of Jack's forehead.
Tony spoke up. "Jack, please! Calm yourself! Have a cigarette!"

Both Jack and Tony were very nice to me, and most of the staff writers.
And to guest stars.
Particularly to the opera singers we booked.
Even to Howard Cosell.
But they weren't at all nice to supporting actors.
Tony couldn't stand whenever Al Molinaro got a laugh.
Because Al did it so effortlessly.
It helps when you have one of the funniest faces on earth.
We were virtually commanded to never write a scene where the supporting actors would
talk to each other.
They were always there to talk to either Jack or Tony or both.
I thought it made them a bit like props and furniture.
But that's just me.
There was an actor named Stanley Adams, who we wanted to hire to play a pool hustler
in one of our more classic episodes.
Tony threw up the red flag.
"Oh, God. He'll flounce around here all week doing his mincing homosexual bit!"
As far as I knew, there was nothing effeminate about Stanley Adams.
But Tony had apparently been exposed to this parade of Stanley's.
A compromise was reached when it was written into Stanley's contract that he would not, at any point during the week, do his mincing homosexual bit.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when business affairs was writing up this contract.

I'll conclude my thoughts about Jack next time.


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3 comments:

  1. I just remembered an appearance that Tony Randall made on somebody's talk show sometime in the '70s (I want to say Dick Cavett's, but I'm not sure).

    Anyway, Tony was asked the chestnut question about if "you were going to be confined to a hospital room for six months, who would you want to share the room with?"

    Tony's answer was something like this (I don't guarantee the quote, but this is close):

    "Jack Klugman.
    He's as close to a brother as I have, and I guarantee you that we wouldn't say one civil word to each other the whole six months."

    As true as my fading memory can make it ...

    ReplyDelete
  2. You might be eligible for a complimentary Apple iPhone 7.

    ReplyDelete
  3. There is a chance you are qualified to get a $1,000 Amazon Gift Card.

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

Hi. I am, according to my Wikipedia entry,(which I did not create) a noted television writer, playwright, screenwriter, and occasional actor. You can Google me or go to the IMDB to get my credits, and you can come here to get my opinions on things, which I'll try to express eloquently. Hopefully I'll succeed. You can also e-mail me at macchus999@aol.com. Perhaps my biggest claim to fame is being responsible, for about six months in 1975, while Head Writer for the "Happy Days" TV series, for Americans saying to each other "Sit on it."