Broadway will dim its lights Wednesday evening for Carole Shelley, the Tony-winning actress who — regardless of enjoying dozens of roles in her storied profession — will in all probability be remembered finest as a Pigeon.
Shelley, who died in Manhattan on Aug. 31, at 79, performed Gwendolyn Pigeon, half of the giggly sister act of “The Odd Couple.” Each she and Monica Evans — who performed her Pigeon sister, Cecily — carried out these roles in that Neil Simon comedy on the stage, in movie and on TV.
The Publish caught up with Shelley in April to have a good time the movie’s 50th anniversary. Its stars, Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau — fussy Felix and slovenly Oscar — have been by then lengthy gone, together with each different member of the solid besides these two sturdy ladies. Evans had since retired to their native England, however Shelley was residing close to Central Park.
Simon, who died on Aug. 26, found them each in London. “I knew nothing about their background or coaching,” he recalled in “Neil Simon’s Memoirs.”
“I merely stated to each of them, ‘Would you want to return to New York and do that play for Mike Nichols and me?’ Every week later, they have been in New York.”
For Shelley, it was love at first sight: As soon as she landed in New York, she by no means left.
We organized to satisfy for lunch at midday at a restaurant close to the park. When midday got here and went with no signal of Shelley, I known as her house.
“Oh my goodness!” she chirped when reminded of the date. “I’m in my jammies watching ‘The View.’ I’ll be proper there!”
And so she was. Over a lobster roll, she reminisced — about Matthau’s pranks; the fruit cake Lemmon despatched her the Christmas after the movie opened; the all-too-brief however comfortable marriage that left her a widow at 32. And, in fact, we talked about Broadway, the place she appeared in another great comedies: “The Norman Conquests” and “Noises Off” amongst them, and her Tony-winning flip in 1979’s “The Elephant Man.”
Then got here the time to take her portrait. We’d determined to pose her within the park: prime pigeon territory. She was skittish however recreation because the photographer tried to corral the birds — good luck discovering them while you want them — tossing the equal of a complete challah to get their consideration. Trouper that she was, Shelley waited, smiled and waited some extra.
A mom and son stopped by to observe.
“Who’s that?” the mother requested. Once we informed her it was Gwendolyn Pigeon of “The Odd Couple,” she set free a contented shriek.
“Oh!” she stated. “I beloved that present! I’ve received chills!”
So did we.
Relaxation in peace, pricey Carole.