Jack Klugman, the three-time Emmy Award-winning actor, was best known for his portrayals of slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison on TV’s “The Odd Couple” and the title role of the murder-solving medical examiner on “Quincy, M.E.”
A veteran of live TV dramatic anthology series in the 1950s such as “Studio One” and “Goodyear TV Playhouse,” Klugman had been the last surviving member of the cast that played the jury in “12 Angry Men,” the classic 1957 movie drama about a jury’s deliberations in a first-degree murder trial.
On Broadway, Klugman played Ethel Merman’s boyfriend Herbie in the hit musical “Gypsy,” which earned him a 1960 Tony Award nomination. And he won his first Emmy in 1964 for a guest appearance on “The Defenders.”
In 1965, he was back on Broadway, replacing Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison in the original production of “The Odd Couple,” Neil Simon’s classic comedy about two friends with polar-opposite personalties who become roommates.
Tony Randall, who played fussy neat-freak Felix Unger and had appeared in a production of “The Odd Couple” with Mickey Rooney, had wanted Rooney to play sloppy Oscar Madison in the TV series. But executive producer Garry Marshall fought for Klugman.
Having “spent five years in the best situation comedy ever devised” and having worked with Randall, “the nicest guy in this business,” Klugman said he turned down one pilot series script after another, particularly those for sitcoms.
But when he received the script for “Quincy, M.E.,” he said he saw “potential in it — the gimmick of a doctor who solves crimes for the police by medical and scientific deduction. It was not just another cop show.”
And with “Quincy, M.E.” which ran on NBC from 1976 to 1983 and earned Klugman four Emmy nominations, he saw a way to raise issues such as incest, child abuse, drunk driving and elderly abuse.
Klugman, who appeared in films such as “Days of Wine and Roses” and “Goodbye, Columbus,” also starred in the short-lived situation comedies “Harris Against the World” (1964-'65) and “You Again?” (1986-'87).
More recently, Klugman returned to the stage. He teamed up with Randall for the National Actors Theater production of "The Sunshine Boys" from December 1997 to June 1998.
He died on Christmas Eve with his wife at his side.
"He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam Klugman told the Associated Press.