Dec 24, 2012

Remembering Oscar Madison/ Jack Klugman - One of the All Time Greatest

Jacob Joachim Klugman was born on April 27th ,1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Klugman served in the United Stares Army during World War II. He then attended Carnegie Mellon University & became a struggling actor. During his early years in New York City he roomed with Charles Bronson.



He first worked with Tony Randall in September 1955 on a CBS anthology show titled Appointment With Adventure. He would work on television on the Greatest Gift, Justice, the Defenders, The Fugitive & in four episodes of the Twilight Zone. His four Twilight Zone appearances rank first along with Burgess Meredith. After the Odd Couple he had huge success as Quincy Medical Examiner (1976-1983) the show was way ahead of its time years before the CSI & NCIS would take over the main stream of television shows. 

Klugman also appeared in the films 12 Angry Men, Days of Wine & Roses, & Goodbye Columbus. He first appeared as Oscar Madison replacing Walter Matthau in the original Broadway production.

In 1970 he teamed up with Tony Randall in the television version of the Odd Couple. To me it's the greatest television show of all time & the two make up the greates comedy team of all time as well. The show ran for five seasons, with Klugman playing the sloppy, gambling New York Sportswriter Oscar Madison. Madison takes in his friend Felix Unger, who is neat, clean & everything Oscar is not. Klugman won two Emmy Awards for his role of Oscar Madison.


The show featured many famous guest stars from all walks of life on a continuous basis. The Odd Couple was cancelled after each season, but strong summer rerun ratings kept buying it another season.


The show really took off in syndication after its ABC network run in 1974. Two of its episodes Password (ranked #5) & the Fat Farm (ranked #58) were in TV Guides top sixty episodes of all time. Klugman & Randall would have a lifelong friendship that included a lifelong association with Felix & Oscar.

Oscar was famous for wearing a New York Mets cap throughout many episodes of the show, as the Mets were the kool team in those early seventies. Hot off the Miracle of 1969 & right into the pennant winning season of 1973. Photographs of Mets players were also seen on Oscars wall, most noticably Yogi Berra (coach 1965-1972/ manager 1972-1975). A Mets pennant also hangs in Oscar's room!


They appeared in various commercials through the years together in those roles (Yoplait Yogurt, Yatzee & Eagle snacks) as well as broadway & theatrical revivals of the Odd Couple. Randall would stand by Klugman with his long bout with throat cancer which he was diagnosed with in 1974. He lost one vocal cord & was lucky enough to still be able to act with a raspy voice. Klugman would stand by his friend until his passing in 2004 & give the eulogy at his memorial service. Klugman also wrote a small book about their life together called Tony & Me.

Klugman was married to actress Brett Somers with whom they have two children. Although they were married in 1953 & never officially divorced, they separated 1974. Since 1988 he lived with his girlfriend Peggy Crosby & they married in 2008. He passed away surrounded by his family in California at age 90.

No comments: