CNN.com is announcing that Tony Randall has passed away.
A loss, indeed. Randall had long been someone who could bring something special to a project, a certain energy that kept with him well into his advancing years. He had an air of gleeful precision that made it unsurprising that he was cast in the TV version of The Odd Couple.
I remember walking out of Gremlins II, a sequel to a fun movie, thinking “the only person who seemed to be having fun in this film was Tony Randall”. That elevated the scenes he was in — well, not in, he provided the voice for a gremlin — enough to show how lackluster the rest of it was.
The last thing I saw him in was the film Down with Love., a mock Rock Hudson/Doris Day flick. Watching the trailers, I thought “this could be good, this could be bad”, until I saw that they had gotten Randall for a part, and thus proved to me that They Knew What They Were Doing. He was too old at that point to play the “Tony Randall” part (although those shoes were quite ably filled by David Hyde Pierce), but his presence was felt there, and elsewhere.
Next time you’re flipping around the dial (not that we actually have dials on our TVs anymore, nor anything to flip) and you see a moment of film with a young Tony Randall on it, stop and watch. Odds are, you’re in for a little treat.