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.

But there isn’t a Twilight Zone fan out there who heard the news about Klugman’s passing and didn’t think of “A Passage for Trumpet“, “A Game of Pool“, “Death Ship” and “In Praise of Pip”.

10

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.

GameofPool

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!

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About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 12/24/2012, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Special remembrance for the New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon this year for such a great actor and fabulous addition to Serling’s universe. Such sad news.

    • Agreed! It’s as hard to imagine the fifth dimension without Jack Klugman as it is without Burgess Meredith. So many gifted performers did their best work on TZ, and Klugman is high on the list.

  2. Mr. Klugman–you will be missed! You were an incredible performer! Thank you for spending your time on Earth with us…and in the Twilight Zone. Say “Hi!” to Mr. Serling for us.

  3. Also the last of the original “Twelve Angry Men”. Looking forward to the marathon NYE!

    • It’s the end of an era, no question. At least Klugman’s work will live on in future marathons.

  4. I’m not a big fan of any of his episodes (or him in general, to be perfectly honest), but much like Burgess Meredith, I can still appreciate the talent he possessed. It’s always sad to lose one of the originals. But he’ll live on through the miracle of television. See you during the next marathon, Jack!

    • Definitely. I think what drew most people to him was that mixture of “everyday guy” with a passion to do the right thing. But it always felt like he was playing himself, so if that didn’t appeal to you, I guess you were out of luck! But I always liked him. I enjoyed him on “The Odd Couple” and “Quincy,” so it wasn’t hard to really appreciate his work on TZ. And yes, so glad we can see him every marathon!

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