I was at my relatives house this Christmas Eve and my Uncle was getting ready to turn the TV off when the new announced that actor Jack Klugman had just died. We all sat there for a brief moment saying, “Really?” None of us really pictured him as being 90 years old, and I think for a brief moment, as I looked at my cousin with whom I had watch the Odd Couple with for years, made me realize that we are indeed getting older as the people we grew up with are passing on and it got me thinking…
When I was a teenager, TV comedies were great. They were great for many reasons. I thought they had solid storylines, unlike the sitcoms of today. The writers had a wonderful sense of humor and laughter came easy for shows like the Odd Couple.
I loved watching the Odd couple because it was believable. It was just downright funny, and what made it so funny were the two actors, Jack Klugman, who played Oscar Madison, the slob who was the roommate to Felix Unger, the guy with OCD and hypochondria who was played by Tony Randall. The funny part of this was not just the storyline, but how the two men were able to adlib with each other during the filming of the show.
I recall as a teen watching interviews with these two men talking about how well they could adlib with each other and stray from the script. These two were comedians at their finest and the show The Odd Couple, which aired from 1970-1975 was able to capture the essence of true comedy.
The other thing I liked about this show and shows of these times was they often had guest stars on them. Many TV sitcoms had great guest spots and on the Odd Couple people like Monty Hall, Richard Dawson, Hugh Hefner, James Millhollin, Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King, Deacon Jones, Allen Ludden, and Betty White played a guest role on this show.
Klugman left the show and soon become Quincy, M.E. I never cared for the show too much because I always felt he did not fit in as a medical examiner, but if I could get past my own stereotyping, he did a good job as Quincy. That is because Klugman was a great character actor. He was so good that he had over 100 television credits on his resume which I recall several episode of The Twilight Zone, and a 1964 episode of The Defenders which he won an Emmy Award for his performance. In fact, he won two Emmys for the show the Odd Couple. Klugman was also a wonderful actor in the movies such as Goodbye, Columbus, The Detective, Days of Wine and Roses and 12 Angry Men.
Jack Klugman dead at 90 will be a veteran actor that will be missed by us baby boomers. RIP Jack…