Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Eugoogly: Brett Somers

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on September 18, 2007

When two people that love each other–I mean really love each other, in a way that’s unmistakably evident in every minute they spend together, and in a way that you can’t ever really picture one of them without the other–you kind of hope that they’ll end up dying together. Because when two soulmates die at the same time, it’s hard to think of it as being tragic, since the real tragedy would be forcing one to live without the other. That they never had to experience that kind of loneliness seems almost like a blessing, and really, we should all be so fortunate.

About four months ago, Charles Nelson Reilly died. And it was extremely sad for us classic game show devotees–the man was a legend, one of the all-time great game show panelists, and even if he hadn’t done much of anything in the last few decades, the world seemed slightly lesser without him in it. But now that longtime companion Brett Somers performed a similar shuffle off this mortal coil last Saturday, it doesn’t seem quite so sad anymore–it’s almost sort of relieving.

Reilly and Somers never married, and in all likelihood they never even shared a sexual relationship–Reilly was gay, and Somers was married (and drunk), so their relationship almost certainly never advanced beyond the platonic level. But their love was arguably deeper–watching their Match Game banter was really no different than watching an old Tracy-Hepburn movie, or listening to a Sonny & Cher duet, imbued with the same sort of decades of joy and pain and unparalleled familiarity. While the rest of the Match Game cast would cycle in and out, Somers and Reilly would remain the constants, and to have one without the other would’ve been unthinkable.

To suggest that Somers’ only virtue was in her relationship with Reilly is somewhat unfair, however. She’d likely have become a game show icon anyway, with her humongous sunglasses, brassy repartee and perpetually soused deaeanor, and her relationship with host Gene Rayburn was often magical as well. And she has had a long and storied TV acting career as well, with dozens of guest roles in the 70s and even recurring parts on the original Battlestar Galactica and The Odd Couple, where she played the wife of her real life husband Jack Klugman.But really, Somers & Reilly were never better apart than with each other–him providing the perfect dry, low-key foil to her brash, unruly attention hog, and vice-versa. Here’s hoping the two are sipping comped Long Island Iced Teas in a bar in Game Show heaven right now. Gene can even come too, if he promises not to hit on the college girls.

R.I.P. Brett Somers, 1924-2007


One Response to “Eugoogly: Brett Somers”

  1. saturnsf said

    Thanks for this piece. Somers was hysterical on Match Game… I’d almost buy a DVD set of those shows to watch her banter with Charles and Gene.

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