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Tony and Me
I can tell you what Tony and Me by Jack Klugman (yes, that Tony and yes, that Jack Klugman) is not. It is not a lurid kiss and tell memoir of the forbidden relationship between the two venerable stars of the 1970s television show The Odd Couple.
It is, what you would get if combined a eulogy, a love letter and a shiva into one manuscript and published said manuscript.
Jack Klugman, who will be the first to tell you that he is not a writer, collaborated with Burton Rocks to provide a memorable portrait of a professional relationship and friendship that spanned more than 40 years.
What initial attracted me to the book was of course the shiny cover which sported a photo of Tony Randall and Jack Klugman clearly enjoying each other's company. I already knew that they were friends off-screen. I had also seen the interviews they gave as Jack Klugman resurrected his acting career after getting hit with cancer with the help of Tony Randall. I skimmed the book (basically looking at the pictures) until I came to the second to last page. I read Jack Klugman's words about forgiving grudges and telling people that you love them when you have a change. He also talked about letting people help you. Had he not let Tony Randall help him at his most vulnerable, he would not have had an acting career again.
That stuck with me for a week. I returned to those words at the oddest moments. I knew that I wanted to get that book. with the coupon I received from Borders Books. And so I did.
I was not disappointed by it at all. As of this writing, I have reread this book about 10 times in three days.
I really liked what I call the "readability" of this book. I loved the fact that I could picture Jack Klugman's voice in my head as I read the words on the page (the voice alternated between pre-cancer and post-cancer). At the same time, I did not feel like I had to pull out the Hitchhiker's Guide to South Philly of the 30s and 40s to understand what I was reading. I got the few phrases that were a bit dated. Rather than being a maudlin dirge filled with sorrow, it was a celebration of a unique friendship.
Many of the proceeds generated by the book will go to support the National Actor's Theater, which was a lifelong dream of Tony Randall's. He pointed out and quite rightly, that most countries had a National theater. The United States did not. It was the National Theater, we are told in the memoir, that provided Jack Klugman with opportunities to rebuild his career.
To say anymore about the contents of this book would ruin it for those have not read it yet. Hopefully fans and non-fans alike will pick up this book and enjoy the wonderful substance that exists between the shiny covers.