Jack Klugman

Actor, Writer
Emmy Award-winning actor Jack Klugman was known primarily for his portrayals of two of television's most memorable characters, although his career also boasted more than 50 years of credits in film and on Broadway. The ... Read more »
Born: 04/27/1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


Actor (69)

TV Land Awards 2008 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)


The 62nd Annual Tony Awards 2007 - 2008 (TV Show)


When Do We Eat? 2006 (Movie)

Artur (Actor)

Diagnosis Murder 1996 - 1999, 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)


Living in TV Land 2004 - 2005 (Tv Show)


70th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)


The Outer Limits 1994 - 2002 (TV Show)


The 2001 TV Guide Awards 2000 - 2001 (TV Show)


Ed McMahon: America's Sidekick 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


Third Watch 2000 (Tv Show)


Brother's Keeper 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


The Television Academy Hall of Fame 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


Tony Randall: Center Stage 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


Dear God 1996 (Movie)

Jemi (Actor)

Rod Serling: Submitted For Your Approval 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)


The 48th Annual Tony Awards 1993 - 1994 (TV Show)


Bob Hope: The First Ninety Years 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Family Edition 1991 - 1993 (TV Show)


Broadway Sings: The Music of Jule Styne 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)


Packy 1986 - 1987 (TV Show)


You Again? 1985 - 1987 (TV Show)


NBC's 60th Anniversary Celebration 1985 - 1986 (TV Show)


Famous Lives 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)


Parade of Stars 1982 - 1983 (TV Show)


Magic With the Stars 1981 - 1982 (TV Show)


Lucy Moves to NBC 1979 - 1980 (TV Show)


Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)


Circus of the Stars 1977 - 1978 (TV Show)


Quincy, M.E. 1976 (TV Show)


Rickles 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)


Two-Minute Warning 1976 (Movie)

Stu Sandman (Actor)

The Don Rickles Show 1974 - 1975 (TV Show)


The Shape of Things 1973 - 1974 (TV Show)


The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)


The Wonderful World of Aggravation 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)


Super Comedy Bowl 2 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)


Who Says I Can't Ride a Rainbow 1970 (Movie)

Barney (Actor)

Goodbye, Columbus 1969 (Movie)

Mr Patimkin (Actor)

The Detective 1968 (Movie)

Dave Schoenstein (Actor)

The Split 1968 (Movie)

Harry Kifka (Actor)

Alfred Hitchcock Presents 1955 - 1965 (TV Show)


Act One 1963 (Movie)

Joe Hyman (Actor)

I Could Go on Singing 1963 (Movie)

George Kogan (Actor)

The United States Steel Hour 1953 - 1963 (TV Show)


Days of Wine and Roses 1962 (Movie)

Jim Hungerford (Actor)

Playhouse 90 1956 - 1960 (TV Show)


Cry Terror! 1958 (Movie)

Vince (Actor)

Studio One 1948 - 1958 (TV Show)


Suspicion 1957 - 1958 (TV Show)


12 Angry Men 1957 (Movie)

5th Juror (Actor)

The Alcoa Hour 1955 - 1957 (TV Show)


Timetable 1956 (Movie)

Frankie (Actor)

Around the World in 80 Days (TV Show)


One of My Wives Is Missing (TV Show)


Parallel Lives (TV Show)


Poor Devil (TV Show)


The Greatest Gift (TV Show)


The Odd Couple (TV Show)


The Time Is Now (Movie)


The Twilight Zone (TV Show)


The Twilight of the Golds (TV Show)


The Underground Man (TV Show)


The Yellow Canary (Movie)

Lt. Bonner (Actor)


Emmy Award-winning actor Jack Klugman was known primarily for his portrayals of two of television's most memorable characters, although his career also boasted more than 50 years of credits in film and on Broadway. The actor's early years were comprised of work on the stages of New York, on television anthologies such as "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS, 1955-1962), and in features films like "12 Angry Men" (1957), alongside Henry Fonda. Several guest turns on the "Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1971) and a supporting role in the comedy-drama "Goodbye, Columbus" (1969) preceded his long-running portrayal of the cretinous Oscar Madison opposite Tony Randall's fastidious Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple" (ABC, 1970-75). Klugman went on to win two Emmy Awards for his hilarious personification of the sports-loving vulgarian, only to embody another iconic television character in the form of the crime-solving "Quincy, M.E." (NBC, 1976-1983). Although the actor's love of fine cigars led to serious health problems later in life, he persevered, even returning to Broadway for a revival of "The Sunshine Boys" in 1997 and penning a memoir about his former co-star Tony and Me: A Story of Friendship in 2005. Whether remembered for playing a slovenly sportswriter, a tenacious medical examiner, or one of his dozens of other portrayals, Klugman's acting legacy was one of humor, insight and humanity.

Jacob Joachim Klugman was born on April 27, 1922 in Philadelphia, PA. He grew up very poor and had a rough childhood, starting with the death of his house painter father at a very young age. To provide food and clothing for her six children, Klugman's mother made hats in her kitchen at night and sold them. The future actor contributed to the family income as well, buying various items from vendors and selling them in other neighborhoods for twice the price. Klugman later said having an impoverished childhood taught him lessons that privilege could never comprehend. However, gambling soon took hold of the young Klugman, and he found his life in danger, unable to pay his debt. He skipped town and enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University's drama program, beginning his legendary and successful acting career. Surprisingly, Klugman did not win fans with his acting skills right away. While attending school, his professor even advised the future TV star to give up acting and become a truck driver instead. Rather than giving up his new love, the actor honed his skills until he landed his stage debut in 1949 at the Equity Liberty Theater. He moved in with fellow actor Charles Bronson in New York City, NY, and worked several jobs and sometimes even sold his blood, just to make the rent.

Luck soon sided with Klugman once again, and he started landing work in the new medium of television. His sympathetic Everyman quality made him a compelling protagonist in shows like "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" (CBS, 1955-1962) and "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1959-1971). In fact, Klugman tied with Burgess Meredith for the most appearances on the latter series. In 1962, the actor appeared in an episode of "The Defenders" (CBS, 1961-65) titled "Blacklist," a performance that won him his first Emmy Award. In 1954, Klugman appeared in a live broadcast of "The Petrified Forest" alongside Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda, which he described as the greatest thrill of his life. Three years later, he would act with Fonda again, in the classic Sidney Lumet film "Twelve Angry Men," (1957) as Juror No. 5.

Klugman's expressive mug was perfectly suited for the small screen, none more evident than in the role of Oscar Madison, the cigar-smoking slob of "The Odd Couple," based on the Neil Simon play and 1968 film that starred Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Audiences cheered him and co-star Randall, as they showed onscreen how two opposite personalities could have a friendship. The show was a hit for five years, earning Klugman two more Emmys, while his co-star collected one in 1975. Both actors were so believable and entertaining on the show that some even wondered if they really got along once the cameras stopped rolling. During Klugman's book tour for Tony and Me, he talked about how genuine their friendship was. "We got along very well," he said. "Except for the first couple days, we never had an argument within 50 years." It seemed that one hit show was not enough for the talented actor. He starred in "Quincy, M.E." for seven years - a dramatic change of pace for the actor, playing a crusading coroner who invariably became personally involved in investigating crimes. The show was reportedly inspired by Los Angeles County coroner Thomas Noguchi and became the forerunner of many shows to follow about forensic medicine - from "Law and Order" (NBC, 1990-2010) to "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" (CBS, 2000- ). Klugman wrote one episode in 1977 titled "A Good Smack in the Mouth."

In 1953, Klugman married Brett Somers, who was a regular on "Match Game" (CBS, 1973-1982). It was Klugman who first appeared on the game show, then asked the producers to give his wife a guest slot on the panel. Somers famously remained on the show until 1982. The couple also had two children: Adam and David, but they legally separated in 1974. Klugman later joked that he never divorced Somers, so he would not make the mistake of marrying again. He later met Peggy Crosby and had been living with her since 1988. Much like his TV alter ego Oscar, he was an avid horse racing fan. He owned many horses, including one named Jaklin Klugman, voted California Horse of the Year in 1980 after winning several races and finishing third in the Kentucky Derby. For years, Klugman had idolized actor John Garfield, and admitted he started smoking cigars to be just like him. The habit eventually took its toll on the actor's health, leading to him being diagnosed with cancer of the larynx in 1974. After minor surgeries and treatment, the TV star continued to work and landed another series titled "You Again?" (NBC, 1986-87). The sitcom, which co-starred a young John Stamos, was short-lived, but Klugman kept on working. He appeared on several TV specials and in movies like "Two Minute Warning" (1976), as well as returning to theater in "Gypsy," a role he originated on Broadway in 1959, and in touring productions of "The Odd Couple."

The actor's smoking continued as it always had, but he famously received another surgery in 1989 that left him without his right vocal cord and his ability to speak. Klugman proved to everyone not even cancer could stop him, eventually enduring chemotherapy, more surgery, and rehabilitation to help recover his voice. He eventually regained his speech and kept on working, with the help of Tony Randall. Klugman made a triumphant return to television in 1993, reprising his well-loved role of Oscar Madison in "The Odd Couple: Together Again" for a CBS movie special. In fact, the actor was devastated when his co-star and good friend Randall was struck down before him with pneumonia following heart surgery in 2004. He went on to appear on various drama series such as "Diagnosis Murder" (CBS, 1993-2001) and "Crossing Jordan" (NBC, 2001-07). He also won multiple awards for championing speech loss, including the American Speech and Hearing Association's International Media Award. In 2005, Klugman wrote the book Tony and Me and also entered the blogosphere with his own site, Klugman's Korner. Following what turned out to be his final appearance on screen, "Camera Obscura" (2010), Klugman was convalescing in his Woodland Hills, CA home with family when he died suddenly of undisclosed causes on Dec. 24, 2012 at 90 years old. He was surrounded by his wife and children, and passed on the same day Hollywood lost fellow character actor Charles Durning.

By Marc Cuenco


Peggy Crosby Actor

Married Feb. 8, 2008 until his death Dec. 24, 2012

Adam Klugman Actor

Born July 11, 1963; mother, Brett Somers

Max Klugman


Rose Klugman


David Klugman

Born Feb. 20, 1959; mother, Brett Somers

Barbara Neugass

Together from 1974 until 1992 She filed 1997 lawsuit contending that Klugman breached an oral contract in which he had promised to support her; in 1998, a judge agreed to allow palimony suit to proceed; after 12-day trial in late November/early December 1999, jury found in favor of Klugman

Brett Somers Actor

Married 1953 She played his ex-wife on ABC's "The Odd Couple"; frequent celebrity panelist on "The Match Game" Legally separated in 1974, but never divorced; remained married until Somers' death Sept. 15, 2007


American Theatre Wing

New York , New York

Carnegie Institute of Technology

Pittsburgh , Pennsylvania
school now known as Carnegie-Mellon University



Final film appearance, "Camera Obscura"


Published Tony And Me: A Story of Friendship, about his real-life friendship with co-star Tony Randall


Returned to feature films in Jewish comedy "When Do We Eat?"


Played Willy Loman in Burbank, CA production of "Death of a Salesman"


Again acted opposite Tony Randall in Broadway revival of "The Sunshine Boys"


Last film appearance for nine years, "Dear God"


Directed "Asphalt," a play by son Adam Somers in Los Angeles


Reprised role of Oscar Madison for CBS TV movie "The Odd Couple: Together Again"


Starred with Randall in a one night all-star benefit production of "The Odd Couple" in Los Angeles, CA


Starred with John Stamos on short-lived sitcom "You Again?" (NBC)


Starred as a tough-minded medical examiner on long-running series "Quincy, M.E." (NBC)


Played sloppy sports writer Oscar Madison opposite Tony Randall's Felix Unger on "The Odd Couple" (ABC)


Starred on stage in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" on tour and stock


Made guest appearance on "Blacklist" episode of "The Defenders" (CBS)


Originated role of the soft-hearted theater agent Herbie in Broadway production of "Gypsy"


Cast as Juror No. 5 in Sidney Lumet's "12 Angry Men"


Feature debut, "Timetable"


Understudied in "Mister Roberts"; took over the doctor's role


Made Broadway debut in revival of "Golden Boy"


Made stage debut in the Equity Library Theatre production of "Stevedore"

Worked various menial jobs while training at the American Theatre Wing

Bonus Trivia


Klugman's career was sidelined for several years after he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974. In 1989, he lost a vocal cord to cancer, but continued to act on stage and TV.


Next >