The Odd Couple was a 1970s series that starred our favorite opposites living together despite their incredible differences. The format of the show, pairing a slob with a neat freak, became a wildly popular theme for many series and movies to follow.
The show had a long run of five years and it may have actually grown in popularity and pop cultural significance since its cancellation. With such a hugely popular franchise and long run, there are plenty of secrets and interesting facts that only the cast knew for some time.
Here are some amazing things you might not have known about The Odd Couple.
The Producers Feared People Might Think They’re Gay
Since the show revolved around two single males living alone together, the writers and producers of the show feared that viewers and audiences might think the two were homosexual. As a prank, Randall and Klugman would improvise homoerotic scenes and send them to the network, making them think that might be the actual reality of their lives.
Oscar’s Ex-Wife Was Played By Jack Klugman’s Real Wife
In the series, Oscar’s ex-wife was played by Brett Somers. In reality, Brett was the wife of Jack Klugman, who played Oscar. Though they were together off-screen and divorced on-screen, they eventually separated off-screen as well.
The Show Had Low Ratings
Though the series ran for five years, it always had low ratings while it was on the air. This meant it was often on the verge of cancellation. However, reruns would play on TV during the summer and would always have a high number of viewers, so the show would get renewed and kept running.
The First Season Was Filmed In The Original Apartment
Before it became a show, it was a movie shot with a single camera in a single apartment. For the first season of the show, the exact same apartment from the movie was used as well as a single camera style production. After the first season, however, the show moved to shoot in a studio.
The Show Was Never Clear On How The Two Met
There were three different stories known as to how the duo met each other. Many simply believed them to be childhood friends. There are references throughout the series, however, indicating that they actually met while serving in the army. The third story was only mentioned once and stated that the two met while serving on the jury of a controversial murder trial.
Howard Cosell Helped Boost Ratings
Howard Cosell was an ABC sportscaster at the time the show was running. He ended up guest starring on two episodes of the series. Not only did his appearance help bring in a ton of new viewers, but it helped boost ratings overall for the show, something that The Odd Couple desperately needed at the time.
Elinor Donahue and Tony Randall Weren’t Friends At First
Elinor Donahue, who played Miriam, stated that at the first table read, she had trouble reading and remembering her lines. This frustrated Tony, who yelled at her and banged his fists on the table to the point that she was in tears. The next day, Tony gave her flowers and deeply apologized, and they ended up becoming close friends.
“Two Divorced Men” In The Show’s Credits
The creators and ABC executives were super paranoid everyone would think the stars were gay, as mentioned earlier. They were so worried in fact, that they included “two divorced men” in the opening credits to extra assure the audience that they were definitely not gay. Because, you know, getting divorced means you’re definitely not gay.
Mickey Rooney Almost Played Oscar
Jack Klugman almost didn’t play the part of Oscar. Originally, Mickey Rooney and Martin Balsam were considered for the roles. Tony Randall desperately campaigned for Rooney to play the part, however, Gary Marshall insisted on Jack Klugman. So, of course, Jack Klugman got the part.
The Address In The Show Is A Real Address
In the series, the characters state the street number of their apartment, and it’s a real New York City address. The exterior shots of the show are actually shot at the apartment as well. The residents who live at the building say that devotees of the show still visit, years after the show ended, and occasionally send fan mail to the address.
The Show’s Characters Met Neil Simon
Neil Simon is the writer of the original play The Odd Couple. The series was based on the play that Simon wrote. In one episode, the two are seen walking down the streets of New York City, where they run into the real Neil Simon. That was very Hitchcockian of the show’s producers.
Neil Simon Originally Wanted Nothing To Do With The Series
The show was originally going to be titled “Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. However, Neil refused to let this happen, as he didn’t want his name tied to the series. He didn’t want to be associated with the TV show because he thought it might not be a success and would damage his reputation.
The Characters Were Based On The Actors
For many of the personality traits and interests attributed to the characters, they were the same for the actors as well. Randall loved opera and classical music, just like Felix, the character he played. Similarly, Oscar enjoyed horseback riding, just like his actor, Jack Klugman.
Oscar’s Mom Was Only A Few Years Older
Oscar’s mom was played by Jane Dulo throughout the entire series. Despite being Oscar’s much older mother, in reality, Jane Dulo was only five years older than Jack Klugman. Special makeup and other tricks were used to make her appear older.
The Play Was Longer Than The Show
Though the show was much easier to access, the play was still one of the most popular and successful productions of all time. While the television show ran for just five years, the play actually had over 900 performances in the 1960s and was nominated for a Tony. It still pops up from time-to-time with new productions.
Several Actors Crossed Over
Before it was a show, The Odd Couple was a movie, and before it was a movie, it was a popular play. While there were so many productions and versions of it, few actors played in more than one production. Among these actors were John Fiedler, Carole Shelley, and Monica Evans, who appeared in both the series and the movie.
After The Cancellation, The Cast Toured
Despite its popularity, the show was eventually canceled. However, that was not the last opportunity to see the cast altogether. Quickly after the show was canceled, the cast went on a tour of the original play of The Odd Couple. They helped draw in many new attendees who were eager to see how well the actors crossed over from TV to the stage.
There Was A Cartoon Version
As if the plays, movie, and series weren’t enough, there was also a cartoon version of the series made. The cartoon knock-off was called “The Oddball Couple,” and featured a cat and a dog that lived together. Cartoon spin-offs were really popular for TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Odd Couple Had A Lot Of Promotion Deals
Together, both Oscar and Felix worked together throughout different advertisements and marketing promotions off-screen. They appeared on the box for Yahtzee, where their faces remained for years. They also appeared in numerous commercials for Eagle Snacks. The show didn’t have the best ratings, but people loved Felix and Oscar.
There Is A Current Remake
Like most popular shows from decades ago, The Odd Couple has been made into a modern sitcom, starring a popular television star, Matthew Perry, alongside Thomas Lennon. The show premiered in 2015 and was quickly renewed for a second season, and then later for the third season.