See Odd Couple (disambiguation) for other works with the same title
The Odd Couple was a hit 1965 Broadway play by Neil Simon, followed by a successful film and television series, as well as other derivative works and spinoffs, many featuring one or more of the same actors. The plot concerns two mismatched roommates, one uptight and the other slovenly.
Simon was inspired to write the play when he saw his brother Danny Simon and theatrical agent Roy Gerber living together after recent divorces. Danny, also a writer, took the first crack at the play, but later handed over the idea to Neil. The show, directed by Mike Nichols, ran for 966 performances and won several Tony Awards, including Best Play.
Felix Ungar, a neurotic, neat-freak newswriter, is thrown out by his wife, and moves in with Oscar Madison, a slovenly sportswriter. Ungar was played by Art Carney and Madison by Walter Matthau. Matthau was later replaced with Jack Klugman.
The play and the film both spell Felix's name "Ungar", not "Unger".
Film and TV adaptations
Main Page: The Odd Couple
In 1968 The Odd Couple was made into a highly successful movie starring Jack Lemmon as Felix and Matthau (once more) as Oscar. Most of the script from the play is the same, although the setting is expanded: instead of taking place entirely in Oscar's apartment, some scenes take place at various outside locations. The film was also written by Simon (who was nominated for an Academy Award) and was directed by Gene Saks.
1970-1975 ABC Sitcom
Main Page: The Odd Couple
The Odd Couple was later the basis for a 1970-75 ABC prime-time television show of the same name, this time starring Tony Randall as Felix and Jack Klugman (once more) as Oscar.
1982 ABC Sitcom
Main Page: The New Odd Couple
In 1982 ABC-TV aired the short lived new version of the series, entitled The New Odd Couple, with Ron Glass playing Felix and Demond Wilson playing Oscar.
In 1998 Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau resurrected their roles for the film The Odd Couple II, produced by Neil Simon, while Randall and Klugman also reunited in 1993 for a made-for-TV reunion film based upon the series.
The award-winning jazz instrumental theme was composed by Neal Hefti for the film. It was played over the opening credits, as the depressed Felix silently wandered the streets of New York, contemplating suicide after having been kicked out of his own house by his exasperated wife. The theme was adapted for the TV series, again used over the opening credits. The song also has seldom-heard lyrics, written by Sammy Cahn.
The Odd Couple was also revised by Neil Simon in 1985 for a female cast (Sally Struthers and Rita Moreno starred). It was based on the same story line and same lead characters, now called Florence Ungar and Olive Madison. The play ran on Broadway for 295 performances.
In 1994 a version of the play relocated to Glasgow toured Scotland, starring Gerard Kelly as Felix and Craig Ferguson as Oscar. Kelly reprised the role of Felix at the 2002 Edinburgh Fringe, opposite Andy Gray.
In a 1997 issue of Premiere Magazine, Billy Crystal and Robin Williams announced a possible stage revival, in anticipation of success of their film Fathers' Day. When that film failed at the box office, the Crystal/Williams revival was quickly forgotten. A similar announcement was made in Premiere in 2005 by Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, in light of their success on stage and screen as the leads in The Producers. Broderick and Lane play Felix and Oscar, respectively. The production opened at The Brooks Atkinson Theatre in New York on October 27, 2005. Lane was replaced for two weeks due to illness by Brad Garrett, who had previously played Murray.