LOS ANGELES – Jack Klugman, the prolific, craggy-faced character actor and regular guy who was loved by millions as the messy one in TV’s “The Odd Couple” and the crime-fighting coroner in “Quincy, M.E.,” died Monday, a son said.
Klugman, who lost his voice to throat cancer in the 1980s and trained himself to speak again, died with his wife, Peggy, at his side. He was 90.
Adam Klugman said he was spending Christmas with his brother, David, and their families. Their father had been convalescing for some time but had apparently died suddenly and they were not sure of the exact cause.
Never anyone’s idea of a matinee idol, Klugman remained a popular star for decades simply by playing the type of man you could imagine running into at a bar or riding on a subway with – gruff, but down to earth, his tie stained and a little loose, a racing form under his arm, a cigar in hand.
His was a city actor ideal for “The Odd Couple,” which ran from 1970 to 1975 and was based on Neil Simon’s play about mismatched roommates, divorced New Yorkers who end up living together. The show teamed Klugman as sloppy sports writer Oscar Madison and Tony Randall as fussy photographer Felix Unger.
Klugman and Randall were battlers on screen, and the best of friends in real life. When Randall died in 2004 at age 84, Klugman told CNN: “A world without Tony Randall is a world that I cannot recognize.”
In “Quincy, M.E.,” which ran from 1976 to 1983, Klugman played an idealistic, tough-minded medical examiner who tussled with his boss by uncovering evidence of murder in cases where others saw natural causes.