In Praise of Jack
The stars in the fifth dimension dimmed a bit tonight with the sad news that Jack Klugman had died.
Klugman was such a gifted and versatile actor, in fact, that his four appearances on The Twilight Zone are not even his most famous roles. He’ll forever be known for two other TV characters: sloppy sportswriter Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple, and as a sleuthing coroner on Quincy, M.E.
He wasn’t classically handsome and had none of the usual “leading man” characteristics. He didn’t need them. His richly appealing “everyman” persona never failed to draw viewers in. You immediately liked and trusted him. What better qualifications could one need to take a plunge into the far corners of the fifth dimension?
Rod Serling (“A Passage for Trumpet”, “In Praise of Pip”) and writers such as Richard Matheson (“Death Ship”) and George Clayton Johnson (“A Game of Pool“) knew that viewers needed likeable characters to identify with as they spun their tilted tales. Klugman was more than qualified for that task.
Who can fail to be moved when he pleads for his old boss to give him a second chance in “A Passage for Trumpet”? Or when he’s overjoyed to find his dying adult son is a 10-year-old boy again?
Every great Twilight Zone started with a great script. But it took talented actors to breathe life into them — and Klugman was one of the best. May he rest in peace.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress followers, just hit “follow” at the top of the page.
Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!