Jack Klugman (born 1922) died yesterday. He was unique in being one of two Method actors I associate primarily with comedy (Gene Wilder is the other. I might have included Mike Nichols as well, but he stopped acting in about 1961!).
My association of Klugman with comedy though is mostly a product of timing. People a little older than me watched him for over a decade in live dramas during TV’s golden age, and people a little bit younger than me think of him primarily as the hypertense, inappropriately sleuthing/ crusading coroner Quincy, M.E. (1976-1983).
Coincidentally, Klugman worked a lot with Rod Serling (whose birthday it is and whom we just wrote about here) a lot during the 1950s and early 60s.
And of course, I connect Klugman with comedy because of his stint as Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple (1970-1975), on which he was hilarious. It’s hard to make anger funny, but Klugman always managed to do it, usually by letting us see the character’s heart emerge a few seconds after every outburst. In honor of the season, here he is (as Oscar/Scrooge) with co-star Tony Randall in the inevitable “Christmas Carol” episode of The Odd Couple. Merry Christmas!
Jack Klugman is best known as Oscar Madison. Now, they are together again with Tony Randall, as Felix Unger.