It’s often possible to turn on the TV, and even with the sound down, know someone has died. Today, it was CNN, “voice of Mickey Rooney” fonted on the screen, and video of Tony Randall showing.
It wasn’t as obvious as the time Helaine and I were in the Carribean and stations that normally played ‘island music’ were all of a sudden wall-to-wall Karen Carpenter, but it was pretty obvious. Tony Randall had died at 82.
I was a big Tony Randall fan. He was one of those guys who seemed to make a career of playing himself – prissy, exacting, erudite, fastidious.
I’m not quite old enough to remember him from Mr. Peepers, with Wally Cox. I do remember him from some light comedies – especially Pillow Talk with Rock Hudson and Doris Day.
OK, I’ll admit it. I thought Rock Hudson was the macho one and Tony Randall gay. Oops.
Back in Buffalo, twenty some odd years ago, I got the chance to meet Tony at a charity event. I think it was for the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, which would have been appropriate. He was a great champion of opera and other live performance arts. He seemed older than I had expected. His blue blazer and button down shirt looked worn. He was charming.
Tony Randall never dumbed down his performance. In fact, he played up his intellectual accumen. When he was on with Johnny Carson, or later with David Letterman, there was no doubting that he was the master of all he surveyed.
He didn’t have children until a second marriage when he was already in his 70s, much later in life than most people would think of raising kids. Stories I’ve heard today portray Randall as very happy.
His humor will be missed. His presence, mugging in some inappropriate sketch with Letterman, will be missed. He will be missed.