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Obituary: Jack Klugman

Jack Klugman

Obituary by Jack Foley

JACK Klugman, best known for playing no-nonsense medical investigator in Quincy M.E on the long-running TV series, has died at the age of 90.

The popular actor passed away in Los Angeles on Monday afternoon (Christmas Eve, 2012), according to his son, Adam. No further details of his death were given.

Klugman lost his voice to throat cancer in the ’80s but later trained himself to speak again and returned to acting in the 1990s.

But it was for two roles in particular that Klugman will be remembered… as the medical examiner in the hit NBC series Quincy M.E. and, earlier, as the disheveled New York sportswriter Oscar Madison in the hit ABC series The Odd Couple, which won him two Emmys.

Born on April 27, 1922, in South Philadelphia, Klugman attended Carnegie Mellon University but quickly developed a passion for acting and moved to New York, where he shared a room with fellow actor Charles Bronson for a short period of time.

He got his debut on stage in Saint Joan and maintained a passion for theatre throughout his career, regularly returning to tread the boards when opportunity allowed.

But his versatility also helped win him roles on several of the big TV shows of the ’50s, including appearing four times in Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone as well as Alfred Hitchcock Presents.

In 1964, he won his first Emmy with a guest appearance on The Defenders, which paved the way for his first feature lead film role a year later on Timetable.

Prior to that, he had enjoyed supporting roles on the big screen in films such as 12 Angry Men in 1957 and as Jack Lemmon’s Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor in Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses in 1962.

But he shot to prominence in 1970 when he was cast as Oscar Madison alongside Tony Randall in the TV version of The Odd Couple, a show based on the smash 1965 Neil Simon play.

Ironically, Klugman had already tasted the role by replacing Walter Matthau (who also starred in the film version) for a stint on Broadway. The TV show became a ratings sensation between 1970 and 1975.

A year later, he landed the role of Quincy, which had been inspired by the professional life of longtime LA coroner Thomas Noguchi. The show ran from 1976 to 1983.

Thereafter, Klugman starred in the short-lived sitcom You Again? alongside a young John Stamos, and returned to Broadway for a revival of Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys.

A heavy smoker, Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in the ’80s and had parts of his larynx removed in 1989, meaning that he went for years without speaking.

But after trainng himself to speak again, he returned to acting in the 1990s and guest starred on TV series including Third Watch and Crossing Jordan.

In his personal life, Klugman married his first wife, actress-comedian Brett Somers, in 1953 and had two sons, Adam and David. But the two had become estranged for years by the time of her death in 2007.

In February 2008, Klugman married long-term partner Peggy Crosby, who was with him when he died Monday.

, a popular Saturday lawyer drama starring E.G. Marshall and Robert Reed.