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Jack Klugman, Star of ‘The Odd Couple’ and ‘Quincy, M.E.’ Dead at 90

Jack Klugman
Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Jack Klugman, best known to audiences as grumpy sports writer Oscar Madison on ‘The Odd Couple’ and as Dr. R. Quincy M.E. has died at the age of 90.

Like most actors from his era, Klugman was a scrapper who went from guest shots on TV shows like ‘Inner Sanctum’ and ‘The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse,’ and supporting roles in films like ’12 Angry Men’ and ‘Days of Wine and Roses,’ while also finding time for Broadway. Indeed, he spent fifteen years bouncing around movies, theater and television before he got cast as Oscar Madison. The role was originated on screen by Walter Mathau, but Klugman made the part his own. He was also playing against the incomparable Tony Randall, and the show went on for five seasons.

In 1976 Klugman was cast as Quincy, and that show ran through until 1983, which Klugman described as “The First ‘CSI’.” Though Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974, he didn’t get surgery for it until 1989, and it robbed him of his voice. But through training he was able to talk again, and continued to work. His final years were marked by stage work, and by his memoir ‘Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship’ which recounted his lifelong friendship with co-star Tony Randall.

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