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Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:15 am


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Emmy-winning actor Jack Klugman, a versatile, raspy-voiced mainstay of U.S. television during the 1970s and early '80s through his starring roles in "The Odd Couple" and "Quincy, M.E.," died on Monday at the age of 90.

Klugman, whose pairing with Tony Randall on "The Odd Couple" created one of television's most memorable duos, died at his home in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles following a period of declining health, according to his son, Adam Klugman.

"He went very suddenly and peacefully ... he was there one minute and gone the next," the actor's son told Reuters, adding that the elder Klugman had "been in convalescent mode for awhile."

He said his father had lost his ability to walk and spent much of his time in bed. His wife of four and a half years, Peggy Crosby, former daughter-in-law of the late singer Bing Crosby, was with him when he died, his son said.

In addition to his TV success, Klugman enjoyed a healthy career on the stage as well as in movies and made successful forays into horse breeding and political activism. Not even the loss of a vocal cord to cancer in 1989 could silence him for long.

Klugman gained fame for playing slovenly sports writer Oscar Madison in the sitcom "The Odd Couple" - a role he also had played on Broadway - and then as a crusading coroner in the crime drama "Quincy, M.E."

"The Odd Couple," based on Neil Simon's play about two disparate divorced men forced to share an apartment, ran for five years on the ABC network, starting in 1970, but was never a hit during that time. Only through reruns did Klugman and co-star Randall, who played neat-freak Felix Unger, leave their mark as one of U.S. television's great sitcom teams.

"We had wonderful respect for one another, we liked working together but we never became friends," Klugman told the Miami Herald in 2005. "I think that was on account of me. I was withdrawn. I never let anybody get too close."

It was not until Klugman's cancer surgery, following years of heavy smoking and throat problems, that a friendship developed with Randall. Klugman had no voice and was glumly resigned to the end of his acting career, but with Randall's encouragement, he returned to the stage.

They resurrected their "Odd Couple" roles in a 1993 TV movie, and Klugman paid tribute to Randall, who died in 2004, in the memoir "Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship."

"Quincy, M.E.," which ran on NBC from 1976 to 1983, saw Klugman assume a heavy behind-the-scenes role. He recalled that he spent 20 hours a day working on the series, and he twice sued its producer, Universal Studios, for a share of the net profits he claimed were owed to him.


Horses were perhaps Klugman's first love - both as a keen gambler starting in his teens and later as a breeder. One of his horses, Jaklin Klugman, finished third in the 1980 Kentucky Derby and earned millions as a stud.

Born Jacob Joachim Klugman on April 27, 1922, he grew up in a tough Philadelphia neighborhood. In 1945 a loan shark was after him due to gambling losses so he fled to Pittsburgh, where he studied drama at Carnegie Tech and worked several jobs to settle his debts.

Two years later in New York, Klugman appeared opposite Henry Fonda in the national stage production of "Mr. Roberts." In 1960, Klugman received a Tony nomination for his supporting role in the musical "Gypsy."

In Hollywood, Klugman had notable supporting roles in such films as "12 Angry Men" (1957), "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962) and "Goodbye, Columbus" (1969).

He won the first of three Emmys in 1964 for an appearance on the legal drama "The Defenders." Klugman and Randall each received Emmy nominations for each of the "Odd Couple" seasons, with Klugman winning in 1971 and 1973 and Randall in 1975.

Klugman also earned four Emmy nominations for NBC's "Quincy, M.E." His character, who stepped out of his role as medical examiner to solve murders that flummoxed the Los Angeles police, never had a first name.

Klugman is survived by Crosby, his second wife, whom he married in 2008 after a 20-year courtship; and two sons, Adam and David, from his first marriage to late "Match Game" panelist Brett Somers. Klugman and Somers were separated for more than 30 years of their 54-year marriage, which ended with her death in 2007.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:52 am

RIP Jack, he was the last of the 12 angry men.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Tue Dec 25, 2012 2:50 pm


Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Tue Dec 25, 2012 3:36 pm

Sad news. I loved the 'Quincy' series.

R.I.P. Jack.

Brian :(

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Tue Dec 25, 2012 11:48 pm

Very sad to hear of his death. Loved Jack in Days of Wine and Roses and the television series The Odd Couple.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Wed Dec 26, 2012 1:10 am

RIP Jack Klugman :( !

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:15 am

Very sad news. I loved him on The Odd Couple. I've always argued that he and Randall were the best leads a series ever had. Of course as the article notes, his contributions went far beyond that show with significant work in the theater (Gypsy was such a pivotal show) and in film as well. 12 Angry Men, in which he's excellent, was a building block in the career of one of the best directors of the past 55 years Sidney Lumet.

He will really be missed. RIP.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Wed Dec 26, 2012 11:07 am

Yeah, I saw it in the paper. Very sad about it. I loved The Odd Couple (TV series) as a kid. And liked Quincy, too. I came to admire his other work later on. Mostly, I admire his courage in handling the loss of most of his voice after the throat cancer. He kept right on - it was inspirational in the truest sense in that he probably inspired others to follow his example. Great guy, terrific actor, class act.



Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:36 am

R.I.P. Jack Klugman


Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:21 am

Weird timing I guess, but I just saw Jack this week in the
Twilight Zone A Game Of Pool episode.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Thu Dec 27, 2012 12:03 pm

I just read the fine character actor Charles Durning died on the same day as Klugman. He was a year younger and was a delight in many films from Dog Day Afternoon, Tootsie and The Best Little Whorehouse. The last film copped him an Oscar nomination. He was a terrific actor.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Thu Dec 27, 2012 10:12 pm

I just wanted to mention Jack Klugman's fine work in two classic Twilight Zone episodes: In Praise of Pip and A Game of Pool. RIP.
I'd also like to offer a RIP for the fine character actor Charles Durning. Mr. Durning was a recipient of the Silver Star and three Purple Hearts!

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Fri Dec 28, 2012 10:38 am

Pete Dube wrote:I just wanted to mention Jack Klugman's fine work in two classic Twilight Zone episodes: In Praise of Pip and A Game of Pool. RIP.

Yes, those were great shows with Jack. RIP Mr. Klugman. :(

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:51 am

Thanks for the reminder of Durning's war record Pete. He really did right by his country.

Saw a very nice story last night about how Klugman was a key player in getting congress to subsidize drugs for orphan diseases like Tourette's that could have been treated by drugs but weren't because there wasn't enough people who had them to make the drugs profitable. Because of Klugman's influence those sufferers now have access to drugs to help with their conditions.

Those Twilight Zone episodes were terrific and Klugman was terrific in them.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:58 am ... s-passions

12/26/2012 4:36PM

Horses, acting were Jack Klugman's passions

By Joe Nevills

Benoit & Associates

Jack Klugman, a part-owner, is surrounded in the Santa Anita winner's circle following Pretty Unusual's victory in the Grade 2 El Encino in 2010.

At a time when horse racing desperately seeks to attract high-profile owners from the entertainment industry, the game lost one of its most dedicated members with the death of actor Jack Klugman at age 90.

Just like in his acting career, Klugman’s ride in the racing industry took him to the highest peaks of his trade. Klugman earned awards on the stage and screen, and his horses ran in the biggest races the sport has to offer, highlighted by homebred Jaklin Klugman’s third-place finish in the 1980 Kentucky Derby.

“He just loved being at the track,” trainer Barry Abrams told the Los Angeles Times after the actor died Monday at his home in Woodland Hills, Calif. “He comes, makes bets, and sits all day. That was his life – horses and show business.”

Born in Philadelphia, Klugman was best known for his Emmy Award-winning role as the unkempt Oscar Madison on the television sitcom “The Odd Couple” as well as Juror No. 5 in the ensemble cast of the Oscar-nominated “Twelve Angry Men.” He also was the title character in the popular television drama “Quincy M.E.”

Much like his character in “The Odd Couple,” Klugman was an avid horseplayer, but by his own account, not a very good one. He met his ownership partner, landscape architect John Dominguez, at Santa Anita Park in 1962, when Dominguez offered a tapped-out Klugman a $50 loan to keep going for the day.

In 1974, the pair dropped a $12,500 claim on a filly named The End All, who promptly broke down during the race, leaving her unable to race.

However, what initially appeared to be a quick end to Klugman’s life in Thoroughbred ownership was merely the beginning.

“I always loved to gamble,” Klugman said. “I never got close to a horse. Fate dealt me a terrible blow when it gave me a good horse the first time out. I thought how easy this is. Now, I love being around them.”

Riley Cofer, who was the trainer of record on the claim slip, took pity on the pair and offered Klugman and Dominguez a free season to California stallion Orbit Ruler, who was standing for a fee of $500. So they bred The End All to Orbit Ruler.

The first foal, named Doctor Quincy after his new television show, was a forgettable sort, winning one of seven career starts. The second foal, a full brother to the first, did much better on the track, even if his name created some confusion.

“My partner [Dominguez] tried to humiliate me by naming the horse after me,” Klugman recalled to Daily Racing Form in 2010. “So we called the guy at the ranch, and he said it was a filly – how would you like to have that guy in charge of your sex life? So he named him Jaklin Klugman.”

California-bred Jaklin Klugman started fast as a 2-year-old, winning four of his first five starts and finishing his campaign with a nine-length score in the California Breeders’ Champion Stakes. He came back at 3 to win the Grade 2 California Derby at Golden Gate Fields, making enough money to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, where he finished third behind Genuine Risk and Rumbo.

Klugman told People magazine after the race that he didn’t put a dime on the horse.

“I’m the world’s worst handicapper,” he said. “I bet on ’em, they lose.”

After the Derby, Jaklin Klugman finished fourth in the Preakness Stakes, then scaled back to become an accomplished middle-distance horse. The second half of his sophomore campaign featured wins in the Grade 2 Jerome Handicap and Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby as well as a hard-fought runner-up finish to eventual champion sprinter Plugged Nickle in the Grade 1 Vosburgh Stakes.

“People might not believe me when I say that this colt has changed my whole life, but it’s the absolute truth,” Klugman told Sports Illustrated in 1980. “Nothing ever had such an impact on me. This horse has brought me immense joy and tranquility at a time when I needed such a thing and thought I would never find it.”

After his racing career, during which he won 10 of 19 starts, Jaklin Klugman retired to stud at the actor’s El Rancho de Jaklin in Temecula, Calif., where his biggest success as a sire was his son Sky Jack, winner of the Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup. Meanwhile, The End All continued to be a dependable producer for Klugman, with 11 winners from 12 foals to race, but none ever came close to the success of Jaklin Klugman.

Klugman continued to own horses and was a fixture at the Southern California racetracks. His next big horse was another homebred, Akinemod, who won six straight races in 1989 and 1990, capped by an 18-length win in the Grade 2 El Encino Stakes at Santa Anita.

Though Klugman had put his farm up for sale and scaled back his Thoroughbred ownership ventures in recent years, he still owned a small stable and partnered in horses, including Pretty Unusual, who won the 2010 El Encino Stakes, the same race her second dam, Akinemod, had won 20 years earlier.

Klugman’s breeding program was popular in California’s commercial market. Sci Fi Kin, Pretty Unusual’s dam, topped the 2012 Barretts Equine Ltd. January mixed sale with a final bid of $60,000.

Re: Actor Jack Klugman Dead At 90

Wed Jan 09, 2013 3:22 pm

Here's a link of what's supposedly the last interview Jack did before he died: