Walter Mencken 4 p.m., May 3
Jack Klugman played the slob long before his role as TV's Oscar Madison made it fashionable.
An image of cardinal significance from the Jewish guilty pleasure, Goodbye, Columbus (1969), instantly made me a Klugman convert. Ben Patimkin (Klugman) is seated at the head of the family dinner table chowing down as if the Commies were in the driveway. The cap to the Wish Bone is nowhere in sight, so the piggish Patimkin clamps his huge mitt over the top of the bottle before giving it a good shake and flooding his salad.
Jacob Joachim "Jack" Klugman died yesterday. He was 90.
He started his film career in something called Grubstake (1952) and spent the next five years on television working his way towards a big screen shot as Juror #5 in 12 Angry Men.
Lee J. Cobb starred as the last juror to change his mind, but in life it was Klugman who was the final holdout. (Juror #5's "downward-stab" theory helped to support the defendant's innocence.) Klugman was the film's last surviving cast member.
Perhaps his oddest coupling was with Brett Somers, best know for TV's Match Game. The small screen's answer to Ethel Merman and Ernest Borgnine kept their marriage together for 21 years before separating in 1974.
Forget about the "angry man", the clean and sober coach in Days of Wine and Roses, or his two appearances on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre . The actor will always be best remembered for one role. Klugman was Walter Matthau's replacement in the original Broadway production of The Odd Couple. He later won two Emmy Awards for the television version.
Here's a nugget of new found trivia: Klugman and his OC co-star, Tony Randall, first appeared together on September 4, 1955 with Gena Rowlands in The Pirate's House, an episode of the CBS anthology series, Appointment with Adventure.
He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974. In 1989 the actor lost a vocal cord. His voice was raspy and greatly diminished, but Klugman continued to appear on stage and television.
Klugman died at his home in Woodland Hills, California with his wife, Peggy, at his side. He is survived by his sons, David and Adam, and two grandchildren.
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