Watch: The stars of The Odd Couple even quibble over which is the best episode
On television from 1970 to 1975, the magic of The Odd Couple undoubtedly comes down to the fireworks created by the clashing of its two stars. As Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall collected TV's top awards, and although Klugman ended up with one more Emmy than his costar, Klugman says it was Randall whose chops carried each scene. In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Klugman had these words of praise for Randall:
"I think Tony is so brilliant in the show. I mean, he's brilliant. You don't realize, my part is easy. His part was to be a pain in the butt and still be likeable, and he did it so well because he believed and he wanted to be on that show."
To cite an example of Randall's brilliance, Klugman points to what he's deemed as his favorite episode of The Odd Couple: the third season episode "Password." In it, the pair appears on the popular game show by the same name and hilarity ensues when everyone's favorite pair of polar opposites predictably turns out to be comprised of incompatible Password parters. Klugman said that in the final scene on the game show in the episode, Randall was so heated, he even ad-libbed a line that still makes Klugman chuckle recalling it more than 40 years later. You can stream the full episode online below to see what's got Klugman cracking up:
The "Password" episode came about because Klugman had appeared on the game show a lot (he said roughly "5 million times") and beca,e good friends with host Allen Ludden and Ludden's then-wife, actress Betty White. White and Ludden both appear in the episode, adding extra delight. Thinking back in the interview, Klugman says he regrets that The Odd Couple never returned to the Password set, sighing to say, "I wish we had done another one of those."
Yet when asked if Randall would agree that "Password" is the very top tier of all the laughs served on The Odd Couple over five seasons, Klugman scoffs. He recalls that, "Tony likes the one where I wear the fat suit because he likes costumes and funny hats." That episode was in the fifth season, and it was called "The Bigger They Are." Stream that episode in full here, and see if you agree with Randall that the sight gag of Oscar in a fat suit is more hilarious than the sputtering of Felix on Password.
Either way, it's pretty appropriate to learn that the actors who played The Odd Couple didn't always see eye to eye on everything, either. Regardless of who stepped in the fat suit, both actors saw the other as the bigger star.