Tony Randall

  1. Dean Martin, The Young Lions, 1957.    Fox won rights to Irwin  Shaw’s WWII novel in 1951 and ran through three directors before letting the project be totally ruled by the MCA talent agency. Second director Mark Robson suggested Tony Curtis as the Jewish GI, Noah Ackerman.  No, said MCA, reserving the other German and American lions  for its clients, Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift.  Singer Eddie Fisher  and Tony Randall were then offered  the third lion, Michael Whiteacre.  No, said MCA again, it must be Dean Martin – or we remove Brando and Clift.  “Good God no!” exclaimed  final director Edward Dmytryk, who  only knew Martin from being Jerry Lewis’ organ-grinder. And that is how MCA did what a talent agency is supposed to do and saved Dino’s movie career after his solo debut flop, 10,000 Bedrooms in a near re-run of pal Sinatra’s From Here To Eternity comeback; minus the Oscar.
  2. Rock Hudson, Send No Flowers, 1964.     The third and last Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy failed – obviously – as Hudson was not good as a “dying” hypochondriac…    Of course not. George Kimball had been specifically written for Randall, their foil in   the other two films.
  3. Peter Sellers, The World of Henry Orient, 1964.   Sellers replaced Randall as the celebrated pianist stalked by young, very young girl fans. Then, by some inexplicable reasoning, Randall replaced Sellers as the 7 Faces of Dr. Lao, 1963. It was as if Randall wanted to prove  that anyone could do what Peter Sellers could do… and, naturally, proved the complete opposite.    Anyone could wear award-winning make-up – it was what was underneath it that counted. The  film was such an instant flop that  poor George Pal (who had previously directed Sellers in tom thumb, 1957) was never allowed to make another  movie.
  4. Ray Walston, Kiss Me Stupid, 1964.    Peter Sellers died (eight times) following a massive heart-attack. Comedy auteur Billy Wilder didn’t want (much less, care) to wait and see if he might recover. OK, the sets were up and the clock was ticking, but Wilder sabotaged his own movie, by refusing to wait for the availability of his usual saviour, Jack Lemmon and signing… TV’s favourite Martian! Walston had been in Wilder’s The Apartment, 1959. But he was  far from Sellers’ league. Not  even in the league of Tom Ewell (from Wilder’s Seven Year Itch, 1954), Bob Hope, Danny Kaye and Tony Randall,  who said replacing Sellers was an impossibility:  Wilder learned his lesson… During his next film, The Fortune Cookie, Walter Matthau also suffered a heart attack and  Wilder waited five months for him  to recover. Both films were awful. He made five more. But Wilder was over.
  5. Don Adams, Get Smart, TV, 1965-1970.   “Would you believe…?” Producer Daniel Melnick told wrtoters Mel Brooks and Buck Henry he wanted as a fusion of the #1 film franchises: 007 and Clouseau. And so Maxwell Smart was born, the dumbest spy until Johnny English. Orson Bean and Tony Randall were in the Wanted poster, but the scenarists prefered Tom Poston.   No, said NBC.  OK, said NBC – but it must be Don Adams. He signed a percentage deal and made a fortune.  Not as much as Jerry Seinfled, but then no one made as much as Jerry Seinfeld.
  6. David McCallum, Three Bites of the Apple, 1966.      Set for Tony in 1964, before the rise of the men from UNCLE.   McCallum was in four MGM releases that year. Italian pin-up Sylva Koscina was the apple. Cor!   (Oh c’mon, I had to say that).
  7. Jack Lemmon, The Odd Couple, 1968.     Having paid enough to Neil Simon for the rights, Paramount wanted low rent casting – Randall, Jack Klugman.   Production chief Robert Evans fought hard for Lemmon and Walter Matthau – too pricey. With Billy Wilder directing – even pricier. “So,” says Evans, “Jack and Walter fucked Billy Wilder over and he was left out of the package.” Randall   and Jack Klugman, became   the TV couple from 1970-74, and were still Felix and Oscar on-stage 20 years later.
  8. Paul Lynde, Charlotte’s Web, 1973.     Chosen to voice the rat Templeton without an audition. When Joseph Barbera realised it wasn’t right voice, he   paid Tony off and hired the more waspish Lynde.


 Birth year: 1920Death year: 2004Other name: Casting Calls:  8