“He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same,” his son Adam told The Associated Press. Klugman died in Los Angeles with his wife of almost four years, Peggy, at his side.
Born in Philadelphia, Klugman’s TV acting career got underway in 1954, with roles on the NBC legal drama Justice and the soap opera The Greatest Gift. The following year, in the anthology series Appointment with Adventure, Klugman met Tony Randall, with whom he would later costar on TV’s The Odd Couple.
The Odd Couple, which ran from 1970 to 1975, was an adaptation of Neil Simon’s Broadway play (where Klugman had previously replaced Walter Matthau as slobby sportswriter Oscar Madison). Klugman would go on to win two Emmy Awards for his work, while Randall netted one for his role as finicky Felix Unger.
Klugman went on to star as the titular opinionated medical examiner in Quincy, M.E., which ran from 1976 to 1983.
His TV resume also included The Defenders, The Fugitive and several appearances on The Twilight Zone; one of his last roles was an April 2002 episode of Crossing Jordan. Klugman’s film credits include 12 Angry Men and Days of Wine and Roses, while on stage he earned a Tony nomination in 1960 for his role in Gypsy.
Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974, and lost a vocal cord to the disease in 1989.
He is survived by his wife Peggy and two sons (via his first wife and Odd Couple spouse Brett Somers).
Here now, one of my favorite Odd Couple moments, Oscar and Felix’s Password appearance. (“Aristophanes!”