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Tony And Me: A Story of Friendship    by Jack Klugman & Burton Rocks order for
Tony And Me
by Jack Klugman
Order:  USA  Can
Goodhill Press, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

For nearly five decades, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall - stars of television, theater, and stage - were close professionally and personally. In his conversational memoir, Tony And Me, Klugman writes of The Odd Couple, of his battle with throat cancer, and of Randall's support, encouragement and bringing back Jack to the stage. Of the loss of Randall in 2004, Klugman writes, 'The day Tony died a reporter asked me to comment. I said that a world without Tony Randall is a world I will never be able to recognize; it is certainly one I will never accept.'

The memoir includes private-collection photos and is accompanied by a DVD of 'never-seen-before outtakes' from their successful series. Klugman writes of Randall's trials in his determined efforts to open a National Actors Theatre in New York, allotting his own funds to begin the project. (Note that a portion of the proceeds from the book's sale is donated by Klugman to the National Actors Theatre.) Randall loved the arts, and one could learn more in two hours with Tony, than four days spent at the Louvre, says Klugman. The casting of Jack Klugman and Tony Randall was a meant-to-be. Two opposites in their leading roles as Oscar and Felix, Jack and Tony were different personalities in life and acting as well, including in their dress code, activities (sports vs. opera), Jack's constant smoking and Tony not ... and more. In the book's Foreword, Garry Marshall addresses the creation of The Odd Couple series with Jerry Belson, based on the Neil Simon play. Marshall writes of Jack and Tony, 'their differences never interfered with our work. Jack and Tony were consummate professionals who set a high bar not only for me, but also for the entire cast and crew who proudly followed their lead.'

Klugman speaks of Randall's occasional temper, his immediate apologies, his compassion, fortitude, 'suggestions not orders' for a scene or action which led to mutual respect ('the seed of our long and successful collaboration'), and always Tony's 'bawdy laughter'. Of Tony he also reveals that he was born Leonard Rosenberg of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and it was twenty years before Jack found that out. Acting mind-sets differed with Tony's 'Certainly I can do it' versus Jack's 'Can I do it?' The duo convinced producers that 'one-camera and canned laughter' was not the way to go, compared to 'three cameras and a live audience'. The book includes a chronological list of classic plays performed since 1991 at the National Actors Theatre. Klugman writes from his memorial speech, 'And now ... I am going to make my third wish: someday soon I will be walking down Broadway and look up to see a sign in lights that reads: THE TONY RANDALL THEATRE. Underneath it will be a placard that reads: PERMANENT HOME OF THE NATIONAL ACTORS THEATRE.'

Klugman pours a heap of heart and recollections into one-hundred and forty pages of Tony And Me which certainly supports the saying less is more. Readers will treasure this book, and will read it with affection. Thank you Mr. Klugman for sharing the happiness, sadness, hilarity, and heart of 'Jack and Tony' in a book I heartily hugged.

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