“Jack Klugman, the rubber-mugged character actor who leapt to television stardom in the 1970s as the slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison on ‘The Odd Couple’ and as the crusading forensic pathologist of ‘Quincy, M.E.,’ died on Monday [Dec. 24, 2012] at his home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles,” The New York Times reports, adding, “He was 90.”
According to the Associate Press story of Klugman’s death, his son “Adam Klugman said he was spending Christmas with his brother, David, and their families. Their father had been convalescing for some time but had apparently died suddenly and they were not sure of the exact cause.”
The Times writes that by the time he starred in TV’s “The Odd Couple” in 1970, Klugman “had more than 100 television credits behind him, including four episodes of ‘The Twilight Zone’ and a 1964 episode of the legal drama ‘The Defenders,’ in which he delivered an Emmy Award-winning performance as a blacklisted actor.”
The Times adds, “In the movies he had been the nouveau-riche father of a Jewish American princess (Ali MacGraw) in ‘Goodbye, Columbus’ (1969); a police colleague of Frank Sinatra’s in ‘The Detective’ (1968); Jack Lemmon’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor in ‘Days of Wine and Roses’ (1962); and a murder-trial juror, alongside Henry Fonda, in ’12 Angry Men’ (1957).
The AP story notes, “In ‘Quincy, M.E.,’ which ran from 1976 to 1983, Klugman played an idealistic, tough-minded medical examiner who tussled with his boss by uncovering evidence of murder in cases where others saw natural causes.’We had some wonderful writers,’ he said in a 1987 Associated Press interview. ‘Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices. He was my ideal as a youngster, my author, my hero.’ two heroes in one, a cop and a doctor.’ A coroner has power. He can tell the police commissioner to investigate a murder. I saw the opportunity to do what I’d gotten into the theater to do — give a message.”
One of Klugman’s most famous TV roles was in the classic 1961 “Twilight Zone” episode “A Game of Pool,” which starred Klugman and Jonathan WInters.Here’s an excerpt:
And here’s a terrific interview with Klugman made by the Archive of American Television, which is part of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation: