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Jack Klugman: An appreciation of the Emmy winner

By Charles Bright
By Charles Bright
Dec 29 2012 04:08 am
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Jack Klugman obituary TV entertainment news

Jack Klugman, a three-time Emmy winner who also had a respected career in theater, passed away on Christmas Eve at the age of 90. Klugman was best known for his roles in the long-running TV series “The Odd Couple,” “Quincy, M.E.” and "The Defenders."

Born on April 27, 1922 in Philadelphia, his pursuit of acting was interrupted by World War II. After his Army service, he attended Carnegie Mellon on the GI Bill. Moving to New York City, he shared a room with another future star, Charles Bronson.

During the 1950s, he appeared in numerous live television productions and touring companies of Broadway hits such as "Mr. Roberts." His first major film role was as Juror #5 in “Twelve Angry Men” (1957). He was nominated for his only Tony Award in 1960 for originating the role of Herbie in the landmark musical “Gypsy” opposite Ethel Merman. He lost that race to Tom Bosley for “Fiorello!”.

In the early 1960s, he appeared on a variety of television shows and in 1964 won an Emmy for a guest shot on "The Defenders."

Then, in 1965, he took on the role that would change the course of his career -- perpetual slob Oscar Madison in the original Broadway run of Neil Simon's “The Odd Couple.” After standing by for star Walter Matthau, he assumed the role in the fall of 1965. He went on to play the part in the TV version of “The Odd Couple” beginning in 1970. He was nominated for Best Comedy Actor for each of the show’s five seasons, winning twice in 1971 and 1973. He also won a Golden Globe in 1974. 

During the show’s run on ABC, Klugman became very good friends with co-star Tony Randall (who would win his own Emmy for the show in 1975). This friendship lasted long after the show was over and Klugman delivered the eulogy at Randall’s funeral in 2004. He wrote “Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship” in 2005.

After “The Odd Couple,” Klugman played the title character in the crime drama “Quincy, M.E.”. He received four consecutive nominations for Best Drama Actor from 1977 through 1980.

He was married to comedian/actress Brett Somers (whom he helped get her featured role on “Match Game”) from 1953 until her death in 2007, though they separated in 1974. He began living with Peggy Crosby (former daughter-in-law of Oscar winner Bing Crosby) in 1988 and they married in 2008.

 

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