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Odd Couples And Midnight Cowboys: Dynamic Duos of TV and Film

Icons | October 28, 2018

Left: Laverne & Shirley; right: Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid. Source: IMDB

Laverne and Shirley, Butch and Sundance -- call them partners in crime or dynamic duos, a well-matched TV or movie team is comedy or drama gold. The buddy movie is a staple of cinema, and its small-screen analog is equally widespread. Shows like Starsky & Hutch and The Odd Couple were shooting for a balance of personalities, and judging by audience reaction, they got it right. The balance of power didn't need to be equal -- Don Knotts' Barney Fife was the supporting character on The Andy Griffith Show, but Andy without Barney wasn't anywhere near as fun, was it? Here are some of the great teams of TV and movies from the '50s through the early '80s, although we're only scratching the surface. What pairs would you add to this list?

Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

This duo captivated the audience in Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (1969), with Butch Cassidy played by Paul Newman and the Sundance Kid, Harry Longabaugh, was played by Robert Redford. Both of these actors are very popular in many movies that we love to watch. In this particular movie, the two are on the run after several train robberies and then they take off for Bolivia. The movie actually inspired the show Alias Smith And Jones, which was about two outlaws trying to go straight by earning amnesty. Another movie was produced in 1979 named Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, which was a prequel.

Felix Unger And Oscar Madison

The Odd Couple

Tony Randall and Jack Klugman are the odd couple of the 1970s, who played Felix Unger and Oscar Madison. There have been other shows and movies also about The Odd Couple, even an animated series. The couple were both divorced but complete opposites, one was a neat freak and the other a slob. Because of their differences, they drive each other crazy, which is also what caused them both to end up divorced by their wives. Felix was too much of a neat freak and finally, his wife couldn’t stand it anymore and threw him out. That is when he ended up on Oscar’s doorstep, his childhood friend. Oscar’s wife divorced him because he was too messy. All he wanted to do was play cards and smoke cigars. It made quite a funny sitcom.

Joe Buck and 'Ratso' Rizzo

Source: IMDB

Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight played an odd couple without laughs in the 1969 Best Picture winner Midnight Cowboy -- the two are thrown together by the unfortunate circumstance of poverty. The shrimpy "Ratso" Rizzo is street smart and unlikeable, while Joe Buck, naive and handsome, fancies himself a "hustler." Both are ill equipped to survive in New York City on their own, and eventually come to depend upon each other and even like each other. The desperate nature of their relationship -- each is literally the other's only friend in the world -- makes the movie's bleak ending all the more heartbreaking.

David Starsky And Kenneth 'Hutch' Hutchinson

Starsky and Hutch

Starsky and Hutch brought us four seasons of entertainment, from 1975 through 1979. In this action series, they were two California detectives. Starsky was the dark-haired one, who was more street-wise than Hutch, the blonde divorced one, who was more reserved and preferred to use his brains. Starsky’s car, the two-door Ford Gran Torino, was nicknamed the “Striped Tomato” and was the car that they used the most. It got its name from an off-camera comment made by Paul Michael Glaser (Starsky) when he first saw the car as it was red with a white streak down the side. Hutch’s car was an old tan 1973 Ford Galaxie 500.  This car was so bad that when they would use it for undercover work, their cover would be blown all the time because when the driver’s door was open, the horn would go off. Another problem with it was that the clutter in the back seat kept them from being able to transport prisoners. 

Laverne DeFazio And Shirley Feeney

Laverne and Shirley

A spin-off sitcom of Happy Days (itself inspired by American Graffiti), Laverne and Shirley ran for eight seasons from 1976 to 1983. They were two friends who were not only roommates but also worked together at the local brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was their job to put the caps on the bottles. Laverne was played by Penny Marshall and Shirley was played by Cindy Williams. At times, they would get into arguments, maybe over a guy or something but would always make up and stay friends. Other characters on the show were their neighbors upstairs, Lenny and Squiggy; who would annoy them sometimes but in the end would still be their friends. At times, characters from Happy Days would make guest appearances and vice versa.  

Andy Griffith And Barney Fife

Andy Griffin and Don Knotts

Over eight seasons and continuous reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, we have enjoyed this duo. The predicaments that Barney (Don Knotts) would get himself into always kept Andy busy, getting him out of trouble and saving his reputation as his deputy. Most of the episodes promoted good moral ethics and clean family humor. Episodes such as the one depicted in this picture were really quite funny. They were investigating the old vacant house that the kids thought was haunted. Of course, Barney believed it too but not Andy. He knew something else was going on after looking around. It turned out to be Otis and his buddy scaring people away to protect their moonshine still operation. After The Andy Griffith Show's fifth season, Don Knotts left the cast, although he returned fairly frequently as a guest -- but the series just wasn't the same without him. Andy Griffith passed away at age 86 in 2012, and Barney passed away at age 81 in 2006. Both of them lived long lives giving us plenty of entertainment through the different shows and movies they were portrayed in.

Detective Sherlock Holmes And Dr. John Watson

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson

There are many versions of Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson, in both old and modern television as well as movies. This picture happens to be from the series of 14 films that aired between 1939 – 1946. Together, Sherlock Holmes (Basil Rathbone) and Dr. Watson (Nigel Bruce) try to solve crimes and mysteries that they find themselves in the midst of. One of the other shows that was produced with Sherlock Holmes was The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1959 and in 1970, there was one called The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes

For the most part, the movies were created to stick pretty close to the story-line of the books. There are some humorous scenes in some of them that make for some very entertaining movies. One such scene has Dr. Watson trying to figure out just what Sherlock Holmes does for a living after moving in on Baker Street. He comes to the conclusion that he is a criminal mastermind, after noticing him in disguise and seeing some strange visitors around. 

Tags: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid | Cast Lists From Popular Movies | Cast Lists From Popular TV Shows | Laverne And Shirley | Movies In The 1960s | Movies In The 1970s | Popular Lists Of Everything From The Groovy Era | Starsky And Hutch | The Odd Couple | TV In The 1960s | TV In The 1970s

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Terry Claypoole


Terry is a lover of the beach, history, politics and has a passion for social media and technology. In her spare time, you can find her at the beach (of course) enjoying the sand and sun and listening to music from the groovy era.