Heather Randall recently had some home movies digitized featuring her late husband, Tony Randall. In one from 1997, Tony sings to his daughter, Julia, backstage at The Sunshine Boys, the Broadway revival he headlined alongside Jack Klugman, his co-star on The Odd Couple. “The music stopped and there was applause, and Tony said, ‘Hear that, honey? That’s for Jack! Jack just entered the stage,’ ” Heather tells Closer. “It was just so sweet.”

In his later years, Tony returned to the things he loved best — performing onstage, attending the opera and devoting his time to charity. He also took on a new role when he became a father for the first time, to Julia and son Jefferson, in his 70s. “He was such a loving, excited father,” says Heather. “He knew he wasn’t going to be with them for a long time, so he would make me take lots and lots of videos.”

Heather met Tony as an actress with the National Actors Theatre, a company he founded in 1991. Prior to their union, he had been married to his high school sweetheart, Florence Gibbs, for over 50 years. “He was kind, he was fun and funny,” says Heather, who recalls her husband teaching her how to tell a joke. “He had a way of just keeping me calm. I felt really safe with him.”

Tony also believed in being of service. “He understood that his celebrity would allow charities to raise more money or get more attention,” says Heather, noting that Tony also did a lot of philanthropic work out of the spotlight. “He would read to the blind,” she says. “He believed that if you were in a position to help, you must. But he didn’t advertise that. He just did it.”

Her home life with the beloved actor, who spent over a decade in Hollywood before playing Felix Unger on The Odd Couple, was warm, loving and often quite glamorous. Tony attended the opera almost weekly and enjoyed turning his periodic appearances on David Letterman’s talk show into date nights. “I think the day player rate was around $800, and they’d let him keep the car for the night,” Heather recalls. “He’d say, ‘Come with me, I’ll do my bit, and then we’ll take the car to Le Cirque’ — that was the hot restaurant at the time — ‘my fee pays for the dinner, so it’s a night on the town.’”

After Tony’s passing at age 84 from pneumonia following a triple bypass in 2004, Heather tried to stay upbeat for her kids. “I didn’t want to make the house a shrine and keep the pain so present,” she says. But she liked to share stories about their father with the kids, and sometimes Tony’s friends joined in. “Jack Klugman and [Odd Couple creator] Garry Marshall were very much a part of our lives,” she says. “They would tell the kids the nicest stories about their dad.”

Tony Randall’s Wife Heather Remembers Late Husband as ‘So Sweet’: ‘I Felt Really Safe With Him’
Derek Storm/FilmMagic

Today, Heather is working on a documentary about her life with Tony. “Nobody could hold a candle to him,” she confides. “He was such a wonderful human being.”

But at certain moments, she catches a reflection of Tony in their son. “He does stand-up comedy,” she says proudly. “Sometimes, he’ll get the same intense comic look in his eyes — like the way Felix would look when he thought it was a matter of life and death. Sometimes he is just so much like his dad.”

Reporting by Fortune Benatar