The Odd Couple
After making a name for himself on the New York stage and several major TV series of the 1950s and 60s, three-time Emmy Award-winning, American actor Jack Klugman achieved the peaked of his powers during early to mid ‘70s for portraying the affable but tremendously slack Oscar Madison in the long-running television version of “The Odd Couple” (ABC, 1970-1975), in which he nabbed two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe award. The accomplished performer received his first Emmy Award in 1964 for his outstanding appearance in an episode of “The Defenders.” Klugman gained additional fame and appreciation with his role as the medical examiner in the well-liked series “Quincy, M.E.” (1976-1983), from which he picked up a Golden Cable Award, in addition to several Emmy nominations. As a movie character actor, Klugman was the quintessence of the everyman. He has built up a productive career by appearing in such vehicles as Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men (1957), Cry Terror! (1958), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Detective (1968), Goodbye, Columbus (1969, earned a BAFTA nomination), Garry Marshall’s Dear God (1996) and When Do We Eat? (2005).
Recently, in November 2006, the Tony nominee performed in a play by James Sweet, “The Value of Names,” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ.
Off camera, Klugman released Tony And Me: A Story of Friendship in 2005, a book about his long companionship with his Odd Couple co-star Tony Randall. Klugman mentioned Randal as his best friend that he ever had. He also informed about their lengthy working affiliation and how good Randall had been to him following his cancer surgery.
As for his married life, the actor married “Match Game” regular Brett Somers from 1953 until their separation in 1974. He then had a long-term relationship with Barbara Neugass (together from 1974 to 1992), and as of 1988, has lived with Peggy Crosby, the former wife of Bing Crosby’s son, Phillip Crosby. Klugman is the father of three children, Adam, David and Leslie, from his marriage with Brett Somers.
Childhood and Family:
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Jacob Joachim Klugman, who would later be famous as Jack Klugman, was born on April 27, 1922. He majored in drama at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and trained at the American Theatre Wing. Jack is the brother of Deborah Klugman, a writer known for her work in “Quincy M.E.” (1976), and Maurice Klugman, a producer who died in May 8, 1981, in Santa Monica, California.
In 1953, Jack was married to actress Brett Somers (born on July 11, 1924, in New Brunswick, Canada). They had two sons, Adam Klugman and David Klugman, and a daughter, Leslie, before splitting up in 1974. Jack and Brett were never divorced.
27-year-old Jack Klugman made his stage debut in the Equity Library Theatre production of “Stevedore.” A struggling actor in New York City, the Philadelphia-born shared a room with another fellow hopeful actor, Charles Bronson, until the two went to better and bigger things. During television’s so-called “Golden Age,” Klugman acted in various TV shows, including “The U.S. Steel Hour” (1954-1956), “Studio One” (1955-1958) and “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” (1957). After an extensive television performance, he segued into film acting in 1956 with a supporting part in the 1956 crime/drama Time Table, starring and directed by Mark Stevens, and went on to appear in the classic 50s NY films like Sidney Lumet’s Twelve Angry Men (1957) and Andrew L. Stone’s Cry Terror! (1958). Two years later, he found himself originating the role of Herbie in the 1960 Broadway production of “Gypsy,” co-starring Ethel Merman. He was nominated for a 1960 Tony for Best Supporting or Featured Actor (Musical) for his work in the play.
After a string of guest appearances, such as playing Alfy Tiloff in six episodes of “Naked City” (1959-1963) and Captain Paul Ross in several episodes of “The Twilight Zone” (1960-1963), as well as performing in such films as Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses (1962), Klugman delivered a memorable guest turn as Joe Larch in the TV series “The Defenders” in the 1964 classic “Blacklist” episode. The role brought him an Emmy in Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role category. The same year, he also starred in his first sitcom, the short-lived Harris Against the World,” as Alan Harris. For the reminder of the decade, the busy performer took on guest roles in many TV shows and appeared in three movies, including The Detective (1968), starring Frank Sinatra, and Goodbye, Columbus (1969), in which he netted a BAFTA nomination for his scene-stealing role of Ben Patimkin.
Kicking off the 1970s, Klugman experienced a huge breakthrough when he recreated his stage role of Oscar Madison, opposite Tony Randall as Felix Unger, for the television comedy series “The Odd Couple.” During the show’s five years run (from 1970-75) , he won two Emmy for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series in 1970 and 1973 and a Golden Globe for Best TV Actor - Musical/Comedy in 1974. With such notable accomplishment, Klugman subsequently became a household name.
A year after the hit show departed the airwaves, Klugman scored another success with the NBC cult favorite “Quincy, M.E.” (1976-1983). As R. Quincy, the crusading, oratory LA County Coroner’s Office medical examiner, he won a Golden Cable (Germany) for Favorite TV Doctor and received four Emmy nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. After guest starring in episodes of “The Love Boat” (1985), the actor again headlined the 1986 sitcom “You Again?,” playing the alienated father of John Stamos. Unfortunately for Klugman, the show had a short life. During that period, he also starred in the Broadway production of “I’m Not Rappaport.”
In 1989, Klugman’s career was deeply endangered when he was forced to undergo throat surgery due to cancer of the larynx that had been diagnosed since 1974. After the operation, he took several years hiatus for recovery and in 1993, made his return by reprising the role of Oscar Madison for an Odd Couple reunion special, “The Odd Couple: Together Again” (CBS). Since then, he has acted in television films like Parallel Lives (1994) and The Twilight of the Golds (1997) and for such TV shows as “Diagnosis Murder” (1997-1999), “Brother’s Keeper” (1999), “The Outer Limits” (2000), “Crossing Jordan” (2000) and “Third Watch” (2000). He also played Jemi in the Garry Marshall-directed comedy Dear God (1996), starring Greg Kinnear, and costarred with Michael Lerner and Lesley Ann Warren in the Jewish comedy When Do We Eat? (2005).
The stage-trained actor could also be found in such plays as a Broadway revival of “The Sunshine Boys” (1998), opposite Tony Randall, and a Burbank production of “Death of a Salesman” (also 1998), as Willy Loman. In September 2003, he performed one-man show “An Evening with Jack Klugman” at the Falcon Theatre in Burbank, California, and more recently, in November 2006, appeared in James Sweet’s “The Value of Names” at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ.