Jul 9, 2013
Love, Sidney: Tony Randall Plays...Um...You Know
Still, he kept trying to incorporate gay plotlines into The Odd Couple (1970-75), about two divorced men sharing an apartment, the prissy, gay-coded Felix (Tony) and the boorish slob Oscar (Jack Klugman). Every other hip urban sitcom had a gay episode -- why not his? Maybe Felix could find an article Oscar was writing on gays in sports, and assume that he was gay. Or they could accidentally get booked onto a gay cruise. The network censors nixed every idea, so Tony and Jack started baiting the censors by hugging and kissing. Here's a clip of outtakes.
The tv version, Love Sidney (1981-83) faced howls of outrage long before it aired. Right-wing nutjobs hated the fact that a gay man would be openly portrayed on tv (also a woman who had sex without being married). So Sidney was de-gayed as much as possible, and Laurie (Swoozie Kurtz) became merely divorced, not "loose."
How de-gayed was Sidney? He never says anything, but there is a photo of his long-dead lover placed tactfully in the background in the apartment. He doesn't know any other gay people, although he rescues a suicidal one in the penultimate episode. Actually, he doesn't have any friends of his own, although he is quite obsessed with his mother.
That's as gay as tv got in 1983.
That's as gay-friendly as Tony Randall got.