Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Klugman and Durning Sign Off

I was very sorry to learn last evening that American actor Jack Klugman, who played Dr. R. Quincy in the classic NBC-TV crime drama Quincy, M.E. (and before that, co-starred with Tony Randall in the sitcom The Odd Couple) died Monday at age 90.

From the Associated Press obituary of Klugman:
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.

“They were going to do cops and robbers with `Quincy.’ I said, `You promised me I could do causes.’ They said, `Nobody wants to see that.’ I said, `Look at the success of “60 Minutes.” They want to see it if you present it as entertainment.’”
Klugman also starred with Peter Graves in the underrated 1974 TV pilot The Underground Man, based on Ross Macdonald's 1971 novel.

Departing the stage yesterday as well was Charles Durning, who appeared in such films as Breakheart Pass (based on Alistair MacLean’s novel of the same name), True Confessions, The Rosary Murders, V.I. Warshawski, and O Brother, Where Art Thou? In addition, Durning was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for his appearance in an April 1998 episode of Homicide: Life on the Street titled “Finnegan’s Wake.” During was 89 years old.

READ MORE:Jack Klugman: April 27, 1922-December 24, 2012,” by Jeremy Lynch (Crimespree Magazine); “Jack Klugman’s Secret, Lifesaving Legacy,” by Joshua Green (The Washington Post); “Appreciation: Jack Klugman Relatable as Oscar, Fervid as Quincy,” by Robert Lloyd (Los Angeles Times); “Jack Klugman, R.I.P.,” by Lee Goldberg (A Writer’s Life); “The Late, Great Jack Klugman” and “Charles Durning Passes On,” by Terence Towles Canote (A Shroud of Thoughts).

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