The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

December 25, 2012

'Odd Couple' star Jack Klugman dies in LA at 90

(Continued)

The "Odd Couple," which ran from 1970 to 1975, was based on Neil Simon's play about mismatched roommates — divorced New Yorkers who end up living together. The comedy came from their opposite personalities — Klugman playing a writer whose sloppiness consistently irritated the Randall's fussy photographer character. The pairing was so good, the show didn't need constant help from the writers.

"There's nobody better to improvise with than Tony," Klugman said. "A script might say, 'Oscar teaches Felix football.' There would be four blank pages. He would provoke me into reacting to what he did. Mine was the easy part."

Fans and fellow actors agreed it worked, posting clips of their favorite Klugman roles on Twitter and other social networking sites late Monday.

"RIP Jack Klugman. You made my whole family laugh together," actor-director Jon Favreau wrote on Twitter.

"He was a wonderful man and supremely talented actor," wrote actor Max Greenfield, who worked with Klugman several years ago. "He will be missed."

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.

"We had some wonderful writers," he said in a 1987 Associated Press interview. "Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices. He was my ideal as a youngster, my author, my hero.

"Everybody said, 'Quincy'll never be a hit.' I said, 'You guys are wrong. He's two heroes in one, a cop and a doctor.' A coroner has power. He can tell the police commissioner to investigate a murder. I saw the opportunity to do what I'd gotten into the theater to do — give a message.

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