Jack Klugman was a versatile dramatic actor, capable of broad comedy and amazing pathos in cinema and the small screen for six decades. He is best remembered for playing sportswriter Oscar Madison on television in The Odd Couple; and the title character on Quincy M.E., a pathologist who solved crimes. Along with Burgess Meredith, Klugman was a favorite of Rod Serling as a lead on The Twilight Zone. Cast as Juror #5, he was the last surviving member of Twelve Angry Men, the 1957 adaptation.
Jack Klugman began is acting career after serving in the military during World War II. As a struggling actor in New York, he roomed with future star Charles Bronson. After performing in Boston in 1950 in an off-Broadway production of Mr. Roberts, he found great success in live television, which was gaining popularity. Klugman often said that his finest achievement was appearing with Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda in the 1955 broadcast of The Petrified Forest.
In addition to Twelve Angry Men, Klugman appeared in important motion pictures, including Days of Wine and Roses and Goodbye Columbus. He replaced Walter Matthau in the original Neil Simon theatre production of The Odd Couple. Klugman received a Tony nomination in 1960 for Best Featured Supporting Actor (Musical) for his role in Gypsy.
He achieved star-status after two memorable performances on episodes of The Twilight Zone. A Passage for Trumpet (1960) and In Praise of Pip (1963) on the anthology series are some of the finest moments during television’s Golden Age. Quinn Martin immediately cast the talented everyman on his highly rated program, The Fugitive.
Beginning in 1970, he began a thirteen year run on network television. <—-Jack Klugman and Tony Randall starred on The Odd Couple for six years, garnering two Emmys along the way. When their situation comedy was cancelled after Randall decided to call it quits, Klugman’s good luck continued. He was cast to star as the medical examiner-turned-sleuth in Quincy M.E. During this time, he frequently joined wife Brett Somers and other entertainment personalites on a 1970s update of Match Game, which rivaled Hollywood Squares in popularity.
In spite of being diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974, Klugman continued to steadily work for over three decades. He also privately owned racehorses and enjoyed gambling. One of his horses actually took third at the 1980 Kentucky Derby. He considered this moment the most thrilling in his talented life.
The affable Jack Klugman was 90.
Charles Durning (right) was a gifted character actor, who appeared in over a hundred movies. His roles in The Sting, Dog Day Afternoon, The Front Page, Tootsie, and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas are considered some of the finest supporting performances in the history of cinema. Durning also saw combat on D-Day along Omaha Beach during the Normandy Invasion. The veteran spent the waning days of World War II as a POW, after seeing action during the Battle of the Bulge. One of the most decorated actors for active military service (along with James Stewart), he was awarded a Silver Star and three Purple Hearts.
Durning received his first career break on Broadway. Never forgetting his roots, he often returned to the stage, co-starring in revivals of Cat on the Hot Tin Roof (as Big Daddy); Inherit the Wind; and Death of a Salesmen. His personal cinematic inspiration was James Cagney…. and King Kong!
For his numerous roles on television, Durning received nine Emmy nominations. He was a series regular on Evening Shade; and he often appeared on Everybody Loves Raymond. Charles actually won a Golden Globe in 1990 for Mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald in the television miniseries The Kennedys of Massachusetts. My wife Laurie and I were on-hand when he was honored for Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Charles Durning was 89.
Until next time> “never forget”