A brief history of ‘The Odd Couple’

The messy-clean roommate match-up has become a staple in television—the Rachels frustrate the Monicas by ignoring the piles of dirty dishes, and the Schmidts unnerve the Nicks with their high-strung behavior. It’s a flawless recipe for apartment hijinks that was originally brought to life by Oscar Madison and Felix Ungar.

Not familiar with those names?

They’re the O.G. messy-clean roommate duo from The Odd Couple! Still have no idea what I’m talking about? Fear not, because one of our favorite roommates—Matthew Perry—is producing and starring in the 2015 reboot of the show, airing Thursday nights on CBS. The play/TV show/film is unique for its many transformations; not just in terms of stage to screen, but also in re-imagining the roles for black and female characters. The Odd Couple has managed to remain popular and relatable over a span of decades. Here’s a timeline of the cross-generational performances that’ll show you why!

1965 – 1967

The Odd Couple is a Tony Award-winning play by Neil Simon, hitting Broadway in 1965 and closing at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in 1967. The original stars were Walter Matthau (as Oscar Madison) and Art Carney (as Felix Ungar). Oscar is a sloppy sportswriter and Felix is a tightly-wound news-writer. The two are brought together after Felix’s wife throws him out and—you guessed it—their friendship is tested.


Three years later, the play was adapted into a film, starring Walter Matthau (again as Oscar) and Jack Lemon (Felix).If you’re interested in a sneak preview of the shenanigans, you can even catch this one on Netflix! The film was received so well that there was a 1998 sequel, The Odd Couple II, with Matthau and Lemon.

1970 – 1975

Jack Klugman (Oscar) and Tony Randall (Felix) bring the beloved duo to ABC and it’s an instant classic.

1982 – 1983

Oscar and Felix return to ABC for The New Odd Couple, this time portrayed by Demond Wilson (Oscar) and Ron Glass (Felix) and with a predominantly African-American cast.


Oscar Madison and Felix Unger become Olive Madison and Florence Ungar! Rita Moreno and Sally Struthers star as the classic roommates on Broadway.


In this 21st century update, Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon will revive Oscar and Felix. This is history, people! But in case you still need a little nudge to watch, Lauren Graham will be playing Matthew Perry’s ex-wife. (BAM.)

Cue the high-speed squabbles! So call up your grandparents and tune in for the premiere tonight on CBS!

(Featured image via, 1965 via, 1968 via, 1970 via, 1982 via, 1985 via, 2015 via, timeline info via)

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