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'The Odd Couple': Day One

Felix's wife sent him packing on November 13


On this day in TV history, Felix Unger was asked to remove himself from his place of residence. That request came from his wife.

Thank God.

If Gloria Unger didn't give her fussbudget husband the boot on November 13—the year was never specified—Felix wouldn't have shown up unannounced at the door of his friend, Oscar Madison, whose wife several years earlier had thrown him out, requesting that he never return.

And we never would have met "The Odd Couple," which aired on ABC from 1970-75.

That memorable opening sequence from the first two seasons, accompanied by Neal Hefti's jaunty theme music, was inserted at the insistence of nervous network executives. They didn't want audiences to wonder if Felix was living with a sloppy sportswriter for perhaps another reason. Hence, the kicker: "Can two divorced men share an apartment without driving each other crazy?"

The answer, of course, was yes—and, fabulously, no. There was nothing odd about the natural give-and-take between Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, who both won Emmy Awards for their performances.

Unfortunately, it's been years since the reruns were a TV staple (though they're available to CBS All Access subscribers). Even worse, CBS Home Entertainment botched the DVD collection by editing out entire music sequences so they wouldn't have to pay royalties. But the hilarity of "The Odd Couple" can be summed up in just two words from the episode where the two friends were partners on "Password."

Oscar (rumbling angrily through each syllable): Aristophenes!

Felix (beaming): Ridiculous!

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Photo: ABC