Welcome to a new Wildcard Wednesday! Today marks the 106th birthday anniversary for one of the sitcom’s most memorable character actors — the quintessential old weasel, who played in everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show in the 1960s to Everybody Loves Raymond in the 1990s. I’m referring to Phil Leeds, and while you may not recognize the name, you’ll certainly recognize his funny one-of-a-kind face, as he’s appeared on many of the Sitcom Tuesday shows we’ve covered, including (but not limited to) the two above, along with Car 54 ,Where Are You?; The Odd Couple; Maude; All In The Family; Three’s Company; Barney Miller; The Golden Girls; Night Court; Mad About You; The Larry Sanders Show; Friends; Dream On; Wings; Murphy Brown; and Roseanne.
In honor of this durable supporting player — whose only regular role came in 1995’s Double Rush — I want to share a seldom-seen episode featuring Leeds. It’s from one of my favorite lesser-known (and heretofore unreleased) ’70s sitcoms: The Tony Randall Show (1976-1977, ABC; 1977-1978, CBS). The entry in question is “Case: The Snow White Affair,” an amusing half hour that concerns an X-rated movie theater showing a Snow White porn parody — a constitutional right that the judge in his professional capacity upholds, but in his private life, as a parent, forbids his kids from seeing. The installment was written by Lloyd Garver, directed by Michael Zinberg, and first aired by ABC-TV on October 28, 1976. Leeds plays, contrary to expectations, the man protesting the theater. He doesn’t have a big part, but it’s a fun one — like most of his sitcom work. I hope after this, if you didn’t already know the reliable Phil Leeds, you’ll be on the lookout for him, and his unforgettable face, from now on!
Come back next week for a new Wildcard — I’m finally going to announce the results of February’s survey, along with the ’90s sitcoms I’ll be covering on this blog for the rest of 2022 (and into 2023) — and stay tuned Tuesday for more Roseanne!