Monday, December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman (1922-2012)

courtesy of Gary Dunaier
from Flickr
Monday December 24, 11:26 p.m.

I was about to sign off for the night when I came across the headline that Jack Klugman had passed away. I knew that the man was well on in years, but it still kinda hit me about his death, especially so close to corny as that does sound.

Jack will always be Oscar Madison to me. I knew he'd had a career on TV, movies and stage long before the TV version of "The Odd Couple"came out and became the long-running hit on ABC. But that Noo Yawker face and voice which could show hilarious anger and a goofily adorable smile at the prissy Felix Unger (the 70s Sheldon Cooper) was a vital ingredient to that sitcom's success. I remember certain scenes with pristine clarity: when Oscar went on a sleepwalking rampage because he was trying to suppress his usual frustration at Felix, when he was trying to play the drums, when he had to deal with another frustration in the form of his slouchy secretary, Myrna Turner.

I also watched and enjoyed most, if not all, of his episodes as the famed TV medical examiner on "Quincy". Though humour did pop up in the show, sometimes his character's fiery earnestness kinda made me wish to take another viewing of his old sitcom. Certainly, SCTV's Joe Flaherty often liked to take a poke at Quincy because of that.

Having talked about "The Odd Couple", there is a "Twilight Zone" episode, "In Praise of Pip" that will always come across as one of the most poignant, throat-lumping ones in the history of that legendary series. Klugman had done a number of episodes for Rod Serling, but this one had him as a low-rent wheeler-dealer who gets in too deep to survive AND finds out that his son has been seriously injured in Vietnam. The ending is a killer. Not too many episodes of any show can get me to start the lachrymal fluid flowing, but this would be one of them.

It was good to have known ol' Jack. Hope he and Tony get together for an eternal blast.