Wednesday, October 11, 2006

REPEAT ...

While having dinner with friends recently, the conversation lead to Dan telling the story of when we had the pleasure of meeting Tony Randall. It is such a fond memory of mine that I have decided to re-post it. I wrote this the day after Tony Randall died in 2004. I have edited it slightly in terms of layout and punctuation only and I have added the inclusion of pics – way back in 2004 I did not know how to do that yet.

FELIX HAS LEFT THE BUILDING ...
The experience I had living in Scottsdale, Arizona for a year in 1982 was very much enhanced by watching “THE ODD COUPLE” on TV every night. It was my ‘Friends’ of the 80s. Where possible, I never missed an episode. I always thought Tony Randall played the best Felix, ever! I left the USA at the end of that year, a dedicated fan of Mr. Randall’s. It was with real sadness and lots of tears that I learnt of his death today.

In 1997, Daniel and I went from Amsterdam to London to see the production of “THE ODD COUPLE” at the Haymarket. I wrote a fax, signed by Daniel, to the manager of the theatre explaining what a fan of Tony Randall’s “My wife Dawn is.” Because Tony Randall was such a super cool being, he invited us to join him in his dressing room after the show.

We had to go round to the side entrance where there was quite a crowd gathered outside at the Stage Door. We felt like celebrities for a moment as we, “Um, excuse me, sorry, coming through, yes, that’s right, me, oh sorry, yes, I am going in” through the crowd. It was fantastic to say, “Mr Randall is expecting me, DL” when I got to the door. We were directed up what seemed like a never-ending flight of lots and lots of stairs. I could still climb stairs in those days but by the time we got up the three floors, (not sure what you call it, when the stairs form a square well down the centre) – I was almost on all fours. I heard a voice from the top say, “Are you gonna make it?” I looked up into the face of Tony Randall, and what a face it was. He had a look about him in certain poses that I found hilarious. It did not seem appropriate to burst out laughing in his face, particularly in my Mowgli posture on the stairs. I dragged myself up and staggered into the dressing room.
He was very welcoming and introduced us to his wife, Heather who was just pregnant with their first child. They were both super friendly. We all shook hands and then, the silence! I got so star struck that I could not articulate a word out of my mouth. I stood there with an idiotic grin on my face and a strange sound coming out of my mouth. I wasn’t sure if anyone else could hear it but I could not get it to stop. I looked at Daniel and he appeared confused. We were all exchanging glances in silence and finally, Daniel realized he needed to do something to save this moment. He got a conversation going and soon enough, everyone was standing around, very relaxed, chatting away; everyone except me. All I could hear in my head was my own voice begging G-d to please remove this idiotic grin off my face and to connect my speech to my brain, please, just this once more.
Their conversation lasted about half an hour and in a last attempt, Tony turned to me and asked if I realized what a famous dressing room we were standing in. He rattled off names like Sir Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud, Richard Burton and how they had all occupied this dressing room at different times over the years. I nodded my head up and down very dramatically to indicate that I so totally did and hoped he would get how desperately I was wishing I could wrap my tongue around the simple word, just one little, “Yes”. No such luck. Fortunately the sound in the back of my throat had stopped. Daniel looked at me like I had completely and utterly lost the plot and indicated that clearly, it was time to leave.

In one of those gestures that remind me of why I fell instantly in love with him when I met him, Daniel turned to Tony and said, “Mr. Randall, would you mind if I took some photo’s of all of us?”

What Tony didn’t hear, but I could - possibly because at the mention of photographic proof of the meeting where I turned into a complete bobble head, was that part of Daniel saying, “Would you mind posing with my dof* wife; and Dawn if you don’t say something soon I swear I am going to bop you on the nose for a reaction”.

I have a vague memory of having managed to offer some kind of goodbye message and it was over. Photo’s, autographs and the climb back down the stairs.
As we got to the street, I exploded as if I had been holding my breath for two hours. The first sentence out of my mouth was, “Well, we now know I can’t meet Mick Jagger ‘cos if this is what happened to me with Tony Randall, how can I possibly meet Mick Jagger?”
Thank you for all the laughs Mr Randall. Rest in peace.


*dof – Afrikaans slang – pronounced like ‘off’ but with a ‘d’ in front of it.
Dof ('Dorf')(Afrikaans – “not bright”, “dull”) Stupid. Dunce.
Someone who is dof is not necessarily that way all the time.
It is often used to describe a temporary loss of brain cells.

 
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