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Interview with Tony Randall's Widow Heather Randall

Aired January 21, 2005 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, exclusive, Tony Randall's widow, Heather Randall, her first sit down interview since his shocking death last May. Millions of us loved her husband, he loved her. Tony Randall's widow, Heather, next, exclusive on LARRY KING LIVE.

KING: We're joined tonight, a very special night, Heather Randall, the wife of good friend and a great talent Tony Randall, the legendary stage, screen and TV actor who passed away last may at the age of 84. She's the mother of his two young children, 7-year-old Randall and 6-year-old Jefferson. How are they doing?


KING: They miss they're dad/

H. RANDALL: Oh, they feel the void. He was a huge presence.

KING: He was doting Dad, was he?

H. RANDALL: He was absolutely doting. I mean he was a wonderful, warm caring presence. He would get on the floor with Jefferson and play Legos. He just adored them and they adored him.

KING: All right. Let's go back first to his passing. Where were you? What happened?

H. RANDALL: Well, he had been in the hospital for 6 months. He had gone in for quadruple bypass surgery. And everything just kind of snowballed. He got pneumonia and then circulatory problems. And it was just one thing after another. It was really horrible, because it was really undignified. And he suffered.

KING: He was in pain?

H. RANDALL: I don't know how much pain he was in. But you know, he was in the for six months. It's just not a way to live. It was horrible.

KING: Did you visit him everyday?

H. RANDALL: I was with him everyday.

KING: Did a lot of people come, friends?

H. RANDALL: They did. Not at first. Because, you know, he didn't want anyone to see him.

KING: Did he look bad?

H. RANDALL: He didn't look bad. He was just very thin and pale.

KING: He was always thin.

H. RANDALL: Yeah. But you should have seen him at the end.

But yes, Jack Klugman came a lot. and Ely Wallick (ph) and Gary Marshall and other friends that weren't well-known necessarily.

KING: When you met Tony, you were how old?

H. RANDALL: When I met him, I was 20. But we weren't involved.

KING: When you got involved, how old?

H. RANDALL: 20 1/2. I was probably 23. I moved in with him when I was 24 and we married when I was 25.

KING: And he was how old?

H. RANDALL: 50 years older. In the '70s.

KING: What was the -- I understand attraction, a wide difference in age, I'm not one to speak. That wide, explain.

H. RANDALL: Oh, gosh. It wasn't planned.

KING: Could have been your grandfather?

H. RANDALL: Yes. In fact there was a great story. My dad called him once, and he said Tony, it's your son-in-law, I mean father-in-law.

My attraction to him had nothing to do with his age except that he was such a wise, caring, gentle man. Maybe wouldn't have been when he was 35 or 40.

KING: Had you been married?

H. RANDALL: I was 23 when I met him.

KING: Had you ever been engaged?

H. RANDALL: To someone, no.

KING: You were never in love?

H. RANDALL: Not, really, no. I had college boyfriends, Yes.

KING: Didn't he fear, didn't he say things like, hey, 50 years?

H. RANDALL: Yes. In fact, he was reticent to get married. I kind of had to browbeat him. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: How did you propose? Come on, Tony.

TONY RANDALL, ACTOR: We were walking by Tiffanies.

KING: Good place.

T. RANDALL: She said, here's where they sell wedding rings. I said, let's go pick one out. It was just like that. Not very romantic, I'm afraid.

KING: No down on the knee?

T. RANDALL: No, no. So we bought a wedding ring.

KING: No date?

T. RANDALL: No date, no, nothing. But now we had a wedding ring. It was dear, it was sweet.


H. RANDALL: We lived together for a year. I thought we would never get married, we would just live together.

KING: Why did you get married?

H. RANDALL: You know, I think he got sick, you know the flu or something. And I remember I was caring for him, and he just kept looking at me saying, it's so nice to have you care for me and you're just so wonderful.

One day, I said, we should get married. He said, OK. So we did. Three days later we were In Rudy Giuliani's office getting married. It was very romantic.

KING: He told me the other night that he married you.

H. RANDALL: Oh, He did? He was really wonderful to us. And not only did he marry us, he took extra care, would always come to Tony's events and galas and he spoke at his funeral.

KING: He's in the hospital six months, obviously things are going bad. So, you couldn't have been shocked shocked, so what was his passing like? Where were you?

H. RANDALL: It doesn't matter, it's shocking. A week before he died, the doctor told me it was going to happened. I cried.

KING: Did he know it?

H. RANDALL: No, he didn't. We never discussed it. In fact, I didn't want to know what he wanted for his funeral, because I didn't want to ask him and he didn't want to talk about it. So I had to kind of just go with what I thought he'd want. KING: So waht was the week like?

H. RANDALL: It was horrible. I was crying and I was an absolute a mess. And then he kind of rallied. And because Tony was such a fighter, and so strong I thought he might pull out of this. He really might pull out of it.

KING: You got hopes up?

H. RANDALL: I didn't think he might fully recover but maybe a few more months or something, you know, a little quality of life. It was terrible because we had been invited to the premier of "Shrek 2."

KING: I'm in that movie.

H. RANDALL: Yes you are. That's right.

Well, it was terrible, because he rallied so I thought it would be OK to go. And I wanted to do something nice for the kids. And we went through the red carpet. And when I got inside, I got inside I got the call he died. It was terrible.

KING: You got the call at the "Shrek 2" opening?

H. RANDALL: It was terrible.

KING: You left right away, of course?

H. RANDALL: Yeah. I snuck out the side.

KING: What did you tell the kids? 7 and 6, dificult age.

H. RANDALL: I told them the next day. I didn't want to tell them right in front of...

KING: So, why were they leaving Shrek 2?

H. RANDALL: My dad was there and he stayed with the kids. My poor dad knew what happened and had to stay there at this movie premiere with the kids...

KING: And they're enjoying the movie and...


KING: You went right to the hospital?


KING: Did you see him?


I'll never forgot that six months. I mean, that's -- I'll never get over it. It was horrendous. IT's seared in my memory.

KING: Because it was so bad for him?

H. RANDALL: So bad for him. Tony had a great life. He had a really great life, and really nothing terrible ever happened to him.

KING: Had a long first marriage.

H. RANDALL: His first wife's death was the only bad thing. He said you know, everybody has to eat ten pounds of crap in their life. This is my 10 pounds. I've had a great life, this is my 10 pounds.

KING: Did the kids visit him?

H. RANDALL: They did.

KING: How did they deal with that, seeing their daddy sick?

H. RANDALL: It was scary.

They went a couple of times and then it was just a little too much for them.

KING: He was not a complainer, right? Tony didn't whine?

H. RANDALL: No, he didn't.

KING: But he didn't like the hospital?

H. RANDALL: No, of course not. But he was kind of the Felix character. You know, like when I was pregnant, he had stomach pains. That kind of thing. A little bit of a hypochondriac.

KING: Official cause of death is listed. He had hepatitis, deteriorated kidney failure and pneumonia, right? What does the death certificate say?

H. RANDALL: Oh, I don't remember. I haven't studied it. It was really everything just broke down.

KING: We'll take a break and be back. We'll be showing you many scenes of Tony's career and the memorial service. Back with Heather Randall right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tony Randall is going to be remembered as really a true gentleman of the theater.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Oscar, get off my back. Off!

MICHELLE LEE, ACTRESS: Laugh and understanding that we can be young as long as we live.

BEN VEREEN, ACTOR: He'll be remembered as a beacon of what to strive for.

JOEL SEGAL, ENTERTAINMENT CRITIC: He loved laughter. He loved theater. But how people knew him, he will really be remembered as someone who loved life even more.




PAUL NEWMAN, ACTOR: The skit starts. Tony does the comic turn, and the audience goes to pieces. You do your comic turn and zip! Tony fixes you with a look of such uncompromising pity, that you get the uncontrollable giggles and you go to pieces. You become such a mess that you finally become funny, which is the magic of Tony Randall.


KING: We're back with Heather Randall.

He was spokesman for the National Funeral's Directors Association?

H. RANDALL: Yes, he was.

KING: A little irony there.

H. RANDALL: Well, you probably have a quote of what he said. It was fabulous.

KING: He said, "everyday I read the obits and there isn't a day I don't know someone in there. I wish I believe to see my parents again. I wish I want to see my wife again, because it's not going to happen."

H. RANDALL: Oh, because he didn't believe in the afterlife?

KING: Yeah.

H. RANDALL: That's true.

KING: But what did he say about funerals?

H. RANDALL: Oh, no. There was a great quote. The day after he died, you quoted it, he said his fantasy was that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney would show up at his funeral and be turned away.

KING: He was an outspoken liberal.

H. RANDALL: They didn't show up. I don't know why.

KING: How did you plan the funeral? How did that work for you?

H. RANDALL: Oh, well, there were a lot of people there helping out. So, I kind of removed myself from it after a while.

KING: Did he have an Orthodox Jewish funeral?

H. RANDALL: No. I did have a rabbi.

KING: He was not religious?

H. RANDALL: He was borderline atheist. He had a strange upbringing with his father who was Orthodox Jew, and made life very hard. So he kind of rejected it totally. But I did have a rabbi at the funeral.

KING: And where is he buried.

H. RANDALL: He was cremated.

KING: Is that his wish or your wish?

H. RANDALL: It was his.

KING: Now, this incredible figure in American life for so long, did you have to deal with it as almost two things, your husband, father, and national figure? I mean, it don't happen to everybody.

H. RANDALL: Well, you know what's funny, the kids, at school, they had to draw a picture of their family, and this was while he was still alive. And Jefferson drew -- he said, this is me and this is my sister Julie and this is my mommy, Heather and this is Tony Randall.

KING: My kids call me LARRY KING LIVE.

So how did you deal with that? Was it harder for you?

H. RANDALL: No. I enjoyed being with somebody so respected and admired, all of that. That's occasionally annoying, but not really.

KING: What was the hardest part of the age difference?

H. RANDALL: The age difference. I don't know.

KING: You got to sane they're '70s or 80s, they're set in they're ways. A 23-year-old can change.

H. RANDALL: Absolutely set in his ways.

I would have liked to maybe climb a mountain or something. And we went to London a lot on vacation.

He knew what he wanted.

KING: He didn't camp out...

H. RANDALL: He'd kind of been there and done that. And we did things he was comfortable with. But that's OK. I have the rest of my life to climb mountains.

KING: Did he have a difficult time with the fact that he knew people you weren't born.

H. RANDALL: Oh, it would drive me nuts. Well, we went to see a great play, "Terry Jones and the Heiress." And she was absolutely incredible. And he admitted she was, but he said, well Wendy Hiller in 1947 was so -- I wasn't there. Can I just enjoy Terry Jones right now, please?


KING: Is it difficult for you, 50 years?

T. RANDALL: No, not at all. We don't have that problem. The fact the year we shot the first "Odd Couple" was the year she was born.


KING: Yeah, it's funny, Tony, but it's also unusual.

T. RANDALL: Yes. I taped the Saturday broadcasts of the opera. I'm always playing them. Last night I was playing Peter Grimes, wonderful performance with John Vicars. And I looked and it was taped in 1969. She said, that's before I was born. Things like that shock me.


KING: You said you met him at 20. Were you a fan?

H. RANDALL: I was a huge fan. I lived -- I grew up in Florida. And all I wanted was to live in New York. And I used to watch him on Johnny Carson. And he'd talk about his life in New York. And I used to think, that's what I want, a life like Tony Randall has in New York City.

KING: How did you meet him? At 20, how'd you meet him?

H. RANDALL: I was an NYU student. And they sent me up to his theatre to be an intern -- intern jokes can be inserted here. He always did.

The first day, I was so excited to meet him. I was such a huge fan. And he was kind of mean to me.

KING: Really?

H. RANDALL: Yeah, he was. He was very nervous, I think, because it was first day of rehearsal of his big theater.

But he was kind of mean. And I was really hurt. And I went home and I called my dad and I said, Tony Randall's mean. I don't know how I'm going to do this.

And my dad said, well, you've got to learn to deal wit. You know, you're going to work with people you don't like. And the second day he was an angel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) T. RANDALL: My first group of interns I hadn't met, picked out by others included this child, whom I barely noticed, although I did notice that she was certainly the hardest working of the interns. I was so involved with the work of getting this theater started. At the same time, my wife was dying. She was in the hospital. And I'd go from the theater to the hospital. And that was my life for months and months and months. And so I really didn't notice anything. And then the second year...

KING: She was an intern because she wanted to be an actress?


I tried to use my interns for anything I could. And they got the first dibs on auditions. She auditioned for a part. The director, I had nothing to do with the director, chose her. I was delighted because I thought she was the best at the audition. And I began to notice this young girl.


KING: Did you go watch him perform a lot?

H. RANDALL: Yes. And I was in some of the shows. And I would stand in the wings and watch him then Redgrave and Martin Sheen. I was in awe of the whole thing.

KING: Did he think he could have children?

H. RANDALL: No. He didn't.

KING: Were you surprised you got pregnant?

H. RANDALL: I wasn't, but he was.

KING: I know he was. He's told me.

H. RANDALL: And it was all natural, by the way, no help.

Jack loves to tell the joke -- Jack Klugman loves to tell the story. They were doing the "Odd Couple" in London at the time. And Tony knocked on the door and there's a big grin, he said the machinery still works.

KING: Did you expect a second child?

H. RANDALL: No. No. Julia was 5-months-old and I got pregnant again. I was like, oh my God. Tony was very proud. He felt very verile.

KING: Was he concerned that he wouldn't see them when he grow up?

H. RANDALL: Yes, very.

KING: Any older -- I'm faced with that myself -- any older person thinks about that.

H. RANDALL: I don't know. I don't know what to say. I suppose I have some strains of guilt over it. But he was a great father.

KING: And you wanted children?

H. RANDALL: Very much. I very much wanted children with him. I loved him so much, I wanted a piece of him.


KING: Let's say you have a great longevity. I'm mean, let's say you have all the genes, you're in good health. You look great. Let's say you make 90. Your child is only going to be 15.


KING: And your wife is going to be a very young widow with a child. Do you think about that?


KING: And what do you do with the thought? Nothing you could do with the thought, I guess.

T. RANDALL: There's nothing I can do about it. My only hope is that I can live to see the child grow and enjoy the child and help educate the child for a reasonable period of time. But I don't believe that I'll live to see grandchildren.


KING: How did the platonic become romantic?

H. RANDALL: Well, one night we were in the dressing room and got -- I'm kidding.

KING: How does that occur?

H. RANDALL: I don't know. It just grew. His wife had died and I graduated from college and then I did another show for him.

KING: His wife died while you knew him?

H. RANDALL: Yeah. I met her a couple of times. She was very sick. And it just grew over a number of years. We were friends. And we'd see each other for dinner, or something. He was lonely and sad. And I don't know, I'd make him dinner. Things just slowly grew.

KING: One thing led to -- as they say.



KING: Where was your first date? Where did you go, you and her alone, date, evening, dinner, romantic? Honey, let's go eat?

T. RANDALL: We always went out for a bite at rehearsals. That's all I remember. I've never done anything but work. When we got married, we went from the marriage ceremony in Mayor Giuliani's office, to rehearsal.


KING: I think it's nice to remember someone such an important figure. And as we said earlier, made us smile so much. We'll be right back.


KING: Are you looking forward to fatherhood?

T. RANDALL: Very much.

KING: Because at this age, it's going to be scary.

T. RANDALL: Well, look...

KING: Get ready, Tony.

T. RANDALL: All my life I wanted to be in a classical repertory theater, all my life I wanted to be a father, both happened after the age of 70. Who can -- who has such a story? It's remarkable! Who could have predicted such a story in his own life? That the best things that ever happened to me happened after the age of 70?




T. RANDALL: OK, let's make a deal.

JACK KLUGMAN, ACTOR: Everybody dies at the same time. They die at the end of their lives. Well, I don't believe that's true with Tony. I don't think he was halfway through his life, all the things he wanted to do. Especially sharing with Heather, the growing up of his kids.


KING: We're back with Heather Randall. There's no secret, so we will ask about it. There were rumors for years that Tony was gay.

H. RANDALL: Oh, yes.

KING: Was that partially because of the way he was?

H. RANDALL: I think it was a few things. I think his wife was reclusive. And people didn't know he was married. I think he played the woman in the "Odd Couple." And he wasn't afraid to play gay characters on television at a time that was not cool.

KING: Did the first gay show.

H. RANDALL: "Love Sidney." And, you know, I don't think he got enough credit for that.

KING: What a breakthrough show that was.

H. RANDALL: He had the courage to do that in the early '80s. And there was a lot of opposition.

KING: And he knew they'd refer to him then more?

H. RANDALL: In this day and age I think there's more of a separation. I think you can play a gay character without it necessarily being a stigma.

KING: How did he deal with those rumors?

H. RANDALL: I never discussed with him.

KING: Never?

H. RANDALL: No. Never.

KING: You sure knew he wasn't.

H. RANDALL: He was not gay. I'm here to testify.

KING: Did the tabloids take a shot at you for a the age difference?

H. RANDALL: No. I mean, not that I read.

KING: Because people liked him too much.

H. RANDALL: And the people knew he had been married and devoted to his life and were happy for him that he found somebody that loved him and cared for him.

KING: Did he take his wife's passing badly?

H. RANDALL: Yes. Very. They were very close.

KING: Even though she didn't go out.

H. RANDALL: But they were very, very close. They were really a team. And she had a great role in his life.


T. RANDALL: I went through a period of numbness when I didn't know I was a living human being. I had no feelings.

KING: You were very close with your wife?

T. RANDALL: I never saw people closer.

KING: You were interchangeable you looked like each other?

T. RANDALL: We began to look like each other, yes.


KING: That DIDN'T affect you? Were there pictures of her in the house?

H. RANDALL: A little bit. It's kind of hard to be jealous of someone that's passed away.

KING: What was his energy level like?

H. RANDALL: Until he got sick, until about the last two years of his life, it was unbelievable. I mean, he would be in the living room dancing around, making jokes, talking at the top of his lungs. I think I told you when I talked to you on the phone after he died, that he would go to the Louvre and he'd drag me along the Louvre for 8 hours.

KING: Was he alwasy in good shape?

H. RANDALL: He was in great shape?

And you know, another example of that when I was pregnant with Julia, he did "A Christmas Carol" at Madison Square Gardens, he did 14 shows a week.

KING: He was Scrooge?

H. RANDALL: He was Scooge. And he was 76, or 77. He did 14 shows a week. He was the only actor that did every singl show. And never missed a show in his entire career.

KING: He did that other show too, about what is it oh something.

H. RANDALL: "Oh Captain?"

KING: No, no, no. That wonderful -- Oh, I'm trying to -- I'll think of it.

Relationship as a husband, what kind of husband was Tony? Because he was so busy and so career oriented, running a theater group and acting.

H. RANDALL: He was home a lot, though. As a husband, he was extremely devoted and kind and sensitive.

KING: Confirmed New Yorker?

H. RANDALL: Absolutely.

KING: His business to the coast had a return ticket at all times. H. RANDALL: He lived in the hotel, he lived in the Chateau Marmont (ph) and he came right home. And he you took him to the country, he would start to sneeze. He was just so a urbane.

KING: He was Woody Allen...

H. RANDALL: He was a Woody Allen New Yorker. Never set foot in a mall. He never ate a slice of pizza.

KING: What about with the kids? He was playful, right?

H. RANDALL: Very playful.

KING: They didn't wear him out?

H. RANDALL: No. He did great with him.


KING: What is it like at 81? I'm 67 and I have got a 2-year-old and a 10-month-old.

T. RANDALL: Nothing in life is the equal of it. And it's as if this is what I was waiting for all my life.

KING: Are you spritely? Can you stay with them?

T. RANDALL: Oh, Yes.

KING: Oh, there they are. Tell us who this is.

T. RANDALL: The little girl is playing the violin, the little boy is trying to play his guitar, he plays it backwards. I took this in the kitchen last night.

KING: Are they both daddy people?

T. RANDALL: Oh, Yes.


H. RANDALL: I have this great image him -- and you probably have had to do the same thing -- he'd go to school for the parent-teacher conferences and he's sitting in the little chair that's 1 foot high with his knees up by his ears.

KING: I take my boys to school everyday.

H. RANDALL: You do?

Well, Tony did to until he got sick.

KING: There's no thrill I get like it. No one can take them, I take them. That counts.

What do you think the kids are going remember most about him? Will they remember? You know, my father died when I was 9 1/2, and my brother was 6 1/2, has no memory of him. I have lots of memories of him at 9.

H. RANDALL: I think they will.

KING: Well, they'll see him.

H. RANDALL: They'll remember the television stuff. But, no, I think -- he used to take Julia to the opera a lot and she'd sit on his lap and she still talks about that. I hope that they won't forgot.

KING: Well, if he was on television, you have tapes, DVD's, right?

H. RANDALL: He was a huge presence, too, with so much energy.

KING: What's it like for you to watch him?

H. RANDALL: It's almost like watching a different person.

KING: Really? Explain that a little.

H. RANDALL: Well, there's Tony Randall the public figure and Tony Randall the person you know. And I just think you -- I compartmentalize it.

KING: So, in other words, you can go through the room and he's on and the "Odd Couple" some old Rock Hudson movie, you can just watch it as a viewer?



T. RANDALL: That's one heck of a guy you got there, Judy.


KING: Did you ever work with him, ever act?

H. RANDALL: Yes. I'm an actress, haven't done it in a while. I was in a play called "Three Men On a Horse" with Tony and Jack and Jerry Stiller. The median age was 63. I brought it way down because I was 23.

And we did a show, "The Man Who Came to Dinner," we did in Ohio.

I loved acting with him. He was an incredibly generous actor. He gave you everything you needed.

KING: Did he talk about Rock Hudson much?

H. RANDALL: He did. And I have a very funny story. He adored Rock and Doris, absolutely adored them.

KING: Doris Day. H. RANDALL: Yes Doris Day.

He adored Rock. He was a real man's man. And he was one of the guys. And he was very funny. And of course Tony had no idea he was gay.

KING: I know. He told me that.

HEATHER RANDALL: I don't know if he was at the time or not. I don't know the story.

KING: Tony had no idea he was.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. No idea. He said there were always groupies around.

KING: I know.


TONY RANDALL: It was impossible for me to believe he was gay.

KING: But he was.

TONY RANDALL: Really. This is the last guy in the world you'd think of -- 6'5," built like Tarzan, very virile. People would say it. I just put it down to envious gossip. I didn't believe it for a moment.


HEATHER RANDALL: Rock always told stories on himself, and he said there was one day where he had to -- they were on the set, and he had to pass gas, and he held it in, and they went to the rushes, and he held it in, and he had to stop and talk to somebody, and he held it in.

And he finally got in his car, and he just let it out, and there was a groupie in the back seat. She had snuck in his car, and she sat up, and she said I'll never do that again.

KING: We'll be right back with Heather Randall. Don't go away.


TONY RANDALL: He was a very virile man, and he was so good looking, and women just -- his dressing room -- they were tumbling out of the door. He was always surrounded by 20 gorgeous girls. We couldn't believe it.

ROCK HUDSON, ACTOR: Egad, you've got cold feet!

TONY RANDALL: Complaints, complaints. Nothing but complaints. I could complain a little, too, you know. You ever cut your toenails?



KING: What was Rock Hudson like to work with?

TONY RANDALL: Oh, he was a doll, wonderful fellow. We had marvelous times together.

HUDSON: You could be right.

TONY RANDALL: You're darn right I'm right.

Funny. He was a funny guy.

KING: He was?

TONY RANDALL: Oh, funny.

KING: Good actor?

TONY RANDALL: Very good actor, yes. He didn't know he was good. He didn't have much confidence.

KING: Really?

TONY RANDALL: No, no. He lacked confidence in his acting.

KING: How about Doris Day?

TONY RANDALL: She's in a class by herself. Untrained actress.

DORIS DAY, ACTRESS: I know that, too.

TONY RANDALL: She did it all my instinct, and her instinct was dead center, always true.

DAY: Let me tell you something, Mr. Webster. I wish I were man right now.

HUDSON: Keep trying. I think you'll make it.


KING: We're back with Heather Randall, and the play I was thinking was "M. Butterfly."


KING: He replaced?

HEATHER RANDALL: There were a few people. John Lithgow was the first.

KING: He was terrific.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, and he was -- that was his most proudest achievement.


KING: What was the toughest role you ever had?

TONY RANDALL: I suppose the toughest was the -- also my best, "M. Butterfly," which I did about seven or eight years ago, 1990.

KING: Tough play.

TONY RANDALL: Well, it's tough -- to an actor, what's tough is the length of the part. A short part is easy, and a long part is hard.

The reason "Hamlet" is so difficult is that it's so bloody long! You're never offstage. This wears you out.

And "M. Butterfly" -- never offstage, but that -- that was good. That was good work.


KING: A hard play to do. He -- Doris Day.


KING: Did she contact you when Tony died because she was real close to him.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, she wrote a letter. Yes, she did, and I know she gave some quotes to the press. And Tony absolutely adored her. I mean, I don't think they had much of a personal relationship except on the set, but he just thought she was one of the hugest talents that he'd ever worked with.

KING: He told me she could cry at the drop of a hat.


KING: She thought about animals in pain or something.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. I think he asked her how do you cry so easily, and she said I think of the little doggies or the little animals that are in suffering.


DAY: Oh, George! Oh, George!

HUDSON: There, there now.


TONY RANDALL: KING: He likes Jayne Mansfield a lot.

HEATHER RANDALL: Adored her. I mean, I don't... KING: Smart as a whip.

HEATHER RANDALL: She was in Mensa.

KING: Oh, I interviewed her. She was in Mensa.


KING: Oh, I knew Jayne.


KING: Yes, I knew Jayne in Miami.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. She -- he talked about this one scene where she was in a bubble bath, and they kept putting bubbles over her to make it appropriate looking. She said -- she was crying. She said people are going to think I'm flat-chested.

KING: She was some -- she was...

HEATHER RANDALL: She was a knockout.

KING: She was not a talent.


KING: Not a great talent.

HEATHER RANDALL: No, but he said she was great fun.

KING: Marilyn Monroe drove him a little nuts, right?

HEATHER RANDALL: She drove him absolutely insane. I mean, I don't think he would have ever said that, you know, in public. But she'd show up at 5:00 in the evening. You know, a 9:00 call, she'd show up at 5:00.

KING: And he was so professional, right?

HEATHER RANDALL: He was an absolute professional. In his eyes, you'd better be either a huge talent or extremely professional.

George C. Scott did "Inherit the Wind" for Tony. It was the last thing he did on stage, and he missed a lot of performances, and it drove Tony nuts.

But George was such a huge talent, I mean, he'd forgive him anything.

KING: What was the memorial service like?

HEATHER RANDALL: The -- the one right after his death?

KING: Yes.

HEATHER RANDALL: I barely remember it. I'm -- it's all fuzzy. It was horrible.

KING: Did you do another one since?

HEATHER RANDALL: Well, we did a big tribute to him on Broadway in October, which was...

KING: What happened at that?

HEATHER RANDALL: Oh, it was great. We had Paul Newman and Eli Wallach and Anne Jackson and Jack Klugman and Garry Marshall and Ben Vereen and Marilyn Horn. I mean, everybody said yes that could possibly say yes.

KING: Everybody spoke?

HEATHER RANDALL: Spoke or sang. Ben Vereen sang. James Naughton sang. Marilyn Horn. And a lot of people...

KING: Told Tony stories?

HEATHER RANDALL: Tony stories, mostly upbeat, and it was -- it was a great celebration of his life and it was very happy because he wouldn't want people to be sad or cry. He was...

KING: No, that's what he would have wanted.



JACK KLUGMAN, ACTOR: When he first left us, I said that I would never recognize a world without Tony Randall. I didn't realize what an understatement that was.

I keep waiting for that phone call, Jack, Tony calling. This is the way he called, and then we would talk. You don't find many people and many friendships like this.


KING: What was the relationship like with Klugman?

HEATHER RANDALL: One of the greatest loving friendships of all time.


TONY RANDALL: I've never had a friend like Jack Klugman.

KING: Explain this friendship.

TONY RANDALL: We love each other. But I would wish on everyone that he'd have a friend like Jack.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HEATHER RANDALL: He's a wonderful man, and, you know, Jack had cancer, Tony came to visit him in the hospital, and he said I'm going to put you back on stage, you're going to go back on stage.

KING: With the bad throat?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, yes. Jack couldn't speak hardly at all at that time, and Jack -- Tony put him in "The Odd Couple." It was a one-night performance, and Jack got a 10-minute standing ovation, and, from then on, Jack worked all the time.

And then when Tony started his theater, Jack came, and he did plays for Tony. He worked for scale, donated lots of money.


TONY RANDALL: He not only has given money to the theater, but, twice, he said let's go out on the road with "The Odd Couple" and we won't take any salary and we'll give all the money to the National Actors Guild. We did that all last summer in England, his idea.


KING: Did Jack fly East right way when Tony passed?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, he did. In fact, he was...

KING: Did he call you?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, he was one of the first people I called, yes, after Tony passed.

KING: How did he take it?

HEATHER RANDALL: He -- I think he screamed. He was really upset, really angry. What can you say? But Jack was there with Tony about a week before he died, and I knew Jack was saying goodbye to him. I think Jack knew.

KING: Yes?


KING: Did Tony have any bad habits? He didn't smoke?

HEATHER RANDALL: No. I mean, only if just being incredibly, incredibly frugal.

KING: He was cheap?

HEATHER RANDALL: No, he wasn't cheap. No. We went to very nice restaurants, and he was very generous with me, and I bought beautiful clothes, and -- no, but he would...

KING: But frugal in what way?

HEATHER RANDALL: Like he would save stamps. Like...

KING: He would save stamps?

HEATHER RANDALL: Uncanceled stamps. I mean, strange little things like that.

KING: You're kidding.


KING: Check the safe deposit box.

HEATHER RANDALL: He saved all of his clothes from "The Odd Couple." I have a closet full of "Odd Couple" clothes, and he would still wear them. These like big checked jackets and things. It was really funny.

KING: We'll be right back with Heather Randall on the life and times of Tony. Don't go away.


TONY RANDALL: I've had almost no friends in my life. Very few. You can count them on this many fingers. So the friendship with Jack, pretty important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the captain speaking.

TONY RANDALL: That's the captain. He's speaking to me. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry, but we'll be delayed on the ground for an indefinite period.




KLUGMAN: What are you doing?

TONY RANDALL: What channel is he on? I'm getting Victor Borgan. Get off! What? What? Where is the emergency exit? Look at that! Look at the size of that woman! If she got stuck in the emergency door, we'd all be dead!

KLUGMAN: If she gets stuck in the door, I'll push her through for you, I promise.




GARRY MARSHALL, PRODUCER, "THE ODD COUPLE": We were shooting by the Plaza, the first shot of "The Odd Couple" so the people would buy it. Put Jack Klugman, Tony Randall in a limousine. First time they really got together.

And I'm setting up the shot, and out comes Tony yelling and screaming and waving, I'm through, I'm finished with the show, I cannot work with that man in there. Then that man in there, Jack Klugman came jumping out of the car making lewd gestures with his cigar at Tony.

Two giants in the middle of the street yelling at each other, and I said, well, you know, that's good for the show. You're kind of in character a little bit.


KING: We're back with Heather Randall.

One of our favorite people is Garry Marshall.

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, mine, too.

KING: One of his, too, right? They really got along well?

HEATHER RANDALL: They got along great, and Garry, again, was incredibly generous to Tony and the theater, would do anything for him in the later years.

KING: Directed for him?

HEATHER RANDALL: No, he never directed a play, but that's a good idea. I'm going to ask him.

KING: Well, I think he's done movies. I...

HEATHER RANDALL: And he has a theater in Los Angeles, and he's directing an opera this spring in Los Angeles. He's a crazy man.

KING: Tony -- yes. Oh, he is. Garry. He fell as a child. Someone knocked the crib over.

Tony's fascination with the opera...


KING: ... was like crazed, right?


KING: He knew everything.

HEATHER RANDALL: He knew everything. I mean, he was kind of a groupie there. It was -- you know, we'd go to the opera, and he'd sit down, and the music would start, and he'd start like swaying. I mean, he felt it in every fiber of his body. And he did the "Opera Quiz" every Saturday for 20 years.

KING: Oh, I know. Texaco.


KING: Did he get you to like it?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. I love it for the theater of it. I'm not very musical, but I love the theater.

KING: This is a good line, a tribute someone has said. When Tony walked into a room, everybody's posture improved because he had perfect posture, right?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, he did. He did. That's right.

KING: He did. I can still see him walking.

HEATHER RANDALL: Everything was arrow straight even at the end. He worked out. He was a health nut. He ate great. In fact, it was like awful because I wanted to eat some junk food, and he would eat, you know, spinach and fish.

KING: What's this story about his frustration one night in "The Odd Couple" scene? It wasn't working in rehearsals.

HEATHER RANDALL: Oh, it's my favorite "Odd Couple" story because he just adored Garry because he -- you know, he was a crazy man, and he was so loving.

And it was late one night, and they were trying to fix this scene, and they couldn't fix it, and everybody was frustrated, and tensions were high, and Tony finally threw up his arms, and he said I don't care how you fix the scene, hire midgets for all I care, and he stormed off the set.

And he came in the next day, and there was a family of midgets. That was Garry. He would said good idea.


TONY RANDALL: 7:00 a.m. We can do that, can we? Bad boy. You bad, bad, bad boy.


KING: Wonderful to -- when you're with someone who has age and all those stories, that's a plus to the relationship, right? It was never dull?

HEATHER RANDALL: It was never dull.

KING: When he founded the National Theater, were you with him then?

HEATHER RANDALL: That's when I met him. I was an intern there that first year.

KING: That's right. You went and worked as an intern.


KING: That was the love of his life, right? He was always angry that we didn't have -- the only country, I think, without no support for a national theater.


TONY RANDALL: I regret that I didn't start the National Actors Theatre 30 years ago.

KING: Did you think about it then?

TONY RANDALL: Yes, I thought about it, but I didn't think I could do it. I didn't have the confidence. I don't know why. But I should have done it. I should have just plunged ahead and done it.


HEATHER RANDALL: All the great western civilizations have great government subsidy for their theaters and their ballet and their music and all of that, and we didn't have anything, and it was his dream to start a national theater like Laurence Olivier had started in England in the -- when did he start it? In the '60s, I think.

KING: Yes.

HEATHER RANDALL: But, you know, they get $30 million a year over there for their theater, and we get maybe $100,000. I'm not sure.

KING: How did Tony raise money? Through subscription?

HEATHER RANDALL: He went to every corporate head. He went to every foundation head. He went to every wealthy lady in New York City. That's what he did.

He was disappointed that his life ended up being about fund- raising. But he also put a lot of his own money in, a very, very large amount of his own money into the theater.

KING: Did it -- was it successful? Is it successful?

HEATHER RANDALL: It's still alive, 12 years after he founded it and against a lot of odds and against Frank Rich's wishes.


KING: Frank Rich attacked you calling it an ego trip for you. How did you react to that?

TONY RANDALL: I -- predictably. I -- my feelings were terribly hurt. I worked 10 years. This was in his opening review of our first play, "The Crucible." It had taken 10 years of my life to reach this opening night, and he called it "TV Star's Ego Trip."

KING: Hurt?

TONY RANDALL: It still hurts.


HEATHER RANDALL: The first season at the National Actors Theatre was fabulous, and then enough pounding by the critics did make things...

KING: And the other critics pounded it because Tony was looked at as a TV star, right?

HEATHER RANDALL: I -- I think maybe. Maybe. I don't quite understand it. It just doesn't make sense to me...

KING: Did he understand it?

HEATHER RANDALL: ... because he was -- he was putting so of his own money, so much of his own heart, creating many jobs in New York City for actors and other, you know, craftsmen in the theater, and I didn't understand why people would want to hurt that.

KING: Did he ever run into Frank Rich?

HEATHER RANDALL: I think he did once, and he was a gentleman because that was Tony.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with the delightful Heather Randall and what she's doing with her life after this.


KLUGMAN: You look sick!

TONY RANDALL: I'm not sick. I'm all right. I didn't take anything, I swear. Oh, my stomach.

KLUGMAN: What do you mean you didn't take anything? What did you take?

TONY RANDALL: Really. Really. I didn't take anything. Don't tell Frances (ph) what I did. Oh, my stomach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He took something! I'm telling you he took something!


TONY RANDALL: Nothing. I didn't take anything.

KLUGMAN: Pills? Did you take pills?


KLUGMAN: Don't lie to me, Felix, or I'll kill you. Did you took pills?

TONY RANDALL: No, I didn't. I didn't take anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, thank God he didn't take pills.

TONY RANDALL: Just a few. That's all.

KLUGMAN: He took pills! He took pills!


KLUGMAN: What kind of pills did you take?

TONY RANDALL: I don't know what kind. Little green ones.



KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE," our tribute to Tony Randall with his widow, Heather Randall, quite a lady.

Stay tuned now for "NEWSNIGHT WITH AARON BROWN." See you tomorrow night. Good night.


KING: We're back with Heather Randall.

Why did you decide to run the theater company?

HEATHER RANDALL: Well, it was Tony's dream. It's something he had been doing for 12 years.

KING: Did he expect you to do that?

HEATHER RANDALL: I don't know if he did. But when he went into the hospital, a void needed to be filled, and I stepped in. And, you know, it was his dream.

But it was my dream, too. I had been there from the very beginning, and I jumped on board -- although as an intern, I jumped on board because I believed in what he was doing. I thought it was so exciting.

KING: Is this a full time job?

HEATHER RANDALL: Not exactly, you know. I'm dealing with other things in my life as well, but...

KING: Like what?

HEATHER RANDALL: Children and estates and...

KING: He bequested money to the National Actors Theatre, did he not? Tony.

HEATHER RANDALL: He left a foundation from which the theater will be partly funded. We still have to fund raise.

KING: And you're going to do a play this spring called "Tales From Hollywood"...


KING: ... by Christopher Hampton about the German emigres in Hollywood during World War II, how tough it was for those people to survive, right?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. There were -- you know, a lot of those great intellects went out to Hollywood because they were persecuted by Hitler, and the moguls took them in almost as charity.

I don't think they took these people seriously. I mean, Billy Wilder and Erich von Stroheim were huge successes. But I -- some of these people weren't taken seriously, and it was very, very difficult for them.

KING: It's a new play?

HEATHER RANDALL: No,. it's 20 years old.

KING: Really?

HEATHER RANDALL: It was a big success in London, and it was done in Los Angeles, and it was never done in New York. It's a gorgeous, sexy play.

KING: What do you think Tony's legacy's going to be?

HEATHER RANDALL: Oh, that he was a great comedian and a great supporter of the arts and -- and a man that married a much younger woman at the end of his life and had kids. He was a stud at 75.

KING: He did not have children in his first marriage?

HEATHER RANDALL: He did not have children. But he's very proud of that. I mean, he was very proud of the press he got, you know, for being a studly older man. In fact, the only time he got mad at a tabloid article was when they said I'd been to a fertility clinic. He called his lawyers.

KING: You're kidding?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes, he was really angry about that, and he said it was natural, I don't want people thinking she went to a fertility clinic.

KING: Do you remember your last conversation with him?


KING: What did you talk with him about?

HEATHER RANDALL: He was ready to throw in the towel, and I said you can't. You know, I said you can't just give up like this. I said you didn't fight Frank Rich and all those critics and all those people all those years just to give up now, just to give up on your life now, you fought so hard your whole life. He said OK, OK, and then he never really came out of it.

I found out I have a lot of strength that I didn't know I have. I'm OK. I mean, it's OK. I get through everything.

KING: And all of Tony's friends, of course, had to be very...

HEATHER RANDALL: They've mostly been great. Mostly been great.

KING: Now do you have them doting on you now?


KING: Who are you seeing? What are you doing?

HEATHER RANDALL: Yes. And, you know, trying to help me out with estate things and...

KING: There's still a lot of it?


KING: Complicated?

HEATHER RANDALL: Shouldn't be, but it is. Lawyers run this country.

KING: Oh, the lawyers. Give it to the lawyers.


KING: Heather, this has been a delight.

HEATHER RANDALL: Oh, it's so nice to meet you.

KING: Thank you. Finally. I've heard so much about you through Tony.


KING: Heather Randall, the widow of the legendary Tony Randall. Tony died last May at the age of 84, and this is her first full-length TV interview since that passing, for which we thank you.


KING: I'll be back in a couple of minutes. Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES NAUGHTON, ACTOR: For all of his success in film, Tony Randall is best known for his role as Felix Unger in the small-screen classic "The Odd Couple." He finally won an Emmy after the last season of the cancellation of the show, prompting him to quip I'm so happy I won, now if I only had a job.




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