Actor Jack Klugman Dies at Age 90

Actor Jack Klugman died today at age 90, at his home in Northridge, Calif.

ByABC News
December 24, 2012, 6:36 PM

Dec. 24, 2012 — -- Jack Klugman, one of television's most-loved actors, died today at the age of 90. He died peacefully at his home in Northridge, Calif., with his wife, Peggy, by his side, according to an announcement by his attorney.

In a career that spanned more than 60 years, Klugman epitomized the "everyman," and was best known for two popular television series of the 1970s and early 1980s: "The Odd Couple" and "Quincy, M.E."

In "The Odd Couple," about two divorced men living together -- a neat freak and a slob -- Klugman played Oscar Madison, the slob sportswriter to Tony Randall's overly fussy Felix Unger.

"The Odd Couple," which was based on Neil Simon's play of the same name, brought Klugman two Emmys, not bad for a man whose first drama teacher told him he was better suited to be a truck driver. The show ran for five years, and has lived on for decades in syndication.

PHOTOS: In Memoriam -- People We Lost in 2012

In "Quincy, M.E.," a precursor to "CSI," Klugman became just as iconic playing the relentless Los Angeles medical examiner with a talent for forensics. "We had some wonderful writers," Klugman said in a 1987 Associated Press interview. "Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices."

A heavy smoker, Klugman fought throat cancer, and subsequent surgery left him with a raspy voice, which was worked into later movie and TV roles, including "The Odd Couple: Together Again" in 1993 and "Dear God" in 1996.

A year after his "Odd Couple" co-star, Tony Randall, died in 2004, Klugman published "Tony and Me," and told CNN: "A world without Tony Randall is a world that I cannot recognize."

Klugman began his career in 1954 on the soap opera "The Greatest Gift." In the same year he made several appearances on the NBC legal drama "Justice," whose episodes drew from actual cases of the Legal Aid Society of New York.

His major movies included "12 Angry Men" (1957), playing juror No. 5; "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962), starring opposite Jack Lemmon; and "Goodbye Columbus" (1969), based on the novella by Philip Roth, starring Ali MacGraw and Richard Benjamin.

Born Jacob Joachim Klugman on April 22, 1922, in Philadelphia to Russian Jewish immigrants, Klugman studied acting at Carnegie Insitute of Technology (now Carnegie Mellon University). He served in the U.S. Army in World War II, and moved on to summer stock and off-Broadway, rooming with actor Charles Bronson, according to The Associated Press. He made his Broadway debut in 1952 in a revival of "Golden Boy." An early TV high point was appearing with Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda in a production of "The Petrified Forest." He also had roles in several "Twilight Zone" episodes.

He was married to actress-comedian Brett Somers, who played his ex-wife Blanche in "The Odd Couple," from 1953 until her death in 2007. His survivors include their two sons, Adam Klugman and David Klugman, and two grandchildren.

He married Peggy Crosby, the ex-wife of Bing Crosby's son, Phillip Crosby, in 2008.

A memorial service has not yet been scheduled.

The Associated Press and ABC News Radio contributed to this report.