Tag Archives: TV Shows

Jack Klugman, Odd Couple’s Oscar Madison, Dies At 90

Last Of “12 Angry Men” Cast Passes Away At Home

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

Jack Klugman with son Adam Klugman promoting Tony and Me 2005 © stuffnobodycaresabout.com

When Jack Klugman decided to write a book he insisted it would not be an autobiography. He was too modest for that. Instead he wrote a book about his close relationship with his Odd Couple co-star Tony Randall. The book, Tony and Me A Story of Friendship, published in 2005 by Good Hill Press, was short on details about Klugman’s life, but very illuminating about Randall and Klugman’s close relationship.

After Klugman was treated for throat cancer he thought his acting career might be over. It wasn’t. With the encouragement of Tony Randall, Klugman returned to the stage and began his career anew, re-learning how to use his new voice, a scratchy rasp that pained some people to listen to. Klugman insisted it didn’t hurt him at all to talk, it just sounded that way to others.

The star of one of the best written and best acted television programs of all-time, The Odd Couple, Jack Klugman died on December 24, 2012 at his home in Woodland Hills, CA at the age of 90. He had been in declining health for the past year. He leaves behind his sons Adam and David and his second wife Peggy. His first wife actress Brett Somers died in 2007, they had been separated since 1974, but had never divorced.

I spent quite a bit of time in 2005 with Jack Klugman helping to promote his book. One of the things I asked him was why he didn’t write an autobiography. He said, “This is all there ever will be. I’m the sort of of person who likes to keep things private. I’ll write about Tony because our relationship was special and that story should be told, but that’s it.”

Our conversations about life and acting made me believe that this was a mistake, and I told Jack Klugman he could have told the world so much more about his career and recollections and many people would be fascinated.

He politely replied that it wasn’t that interesting.

I disagree. His full life story would have been very interesting.

Some things people may not have known about Jack Klugman:

Klugman had an incredibly sharp mind and he attended the prestigious Carnegie Tech (now Carnegie Mellon University).

On The Odd Couple, Klugman portrayed Oscar Madison, a sloppy sportswriter who was a New York Mets fan. In reality Klugman knew little about modern baseball and his knowledge after the DiMaggio era of baseball was lacking. I arranged an appearance on the New York Mets pre-game radio show with Gary Cohen to promote his book. After some initial nervousness and hesitancy on Klugman’s part, he did the interview and both Klugman and Cohen were very satisfied with the results and Cohen said it was one of his favorite interviews that he had ever conducted. Klugman’s real love was the track. He loved the horses. But for that interview you would not have known that Jack Klugman was not a real life New York Mets fan.

He worked with some of the most famous actors of their day, such as Humphrey Bogart, on live television. Most of those appearances are now lost forever.

Klugman’s role as Juror #5 in of one of the all-time greatest movies, 12 Angry Men was a breakthrough part for him, leading to many more acting offers. He discounted his importance to that film as being “small.” It wasn’t small. Klugman’s portrayal may have had the most authenticity of all the actors based on his rough and tumble upbringing.

On a bright day in late June 2005 in the midst of the book publicity tour in a chilly New York office building, we had some spare time alone between interviews. Klugman was wearing his trademark V-neck sweater and cap.  I asked Klugman what he remembered about working with Henry Fonda and Lee J. Cobb and rest of the stellar cast of 12 Angry Men. Klugman grew wistful, saying, “I never really liked acting in the movies, the pace was too slow. I always preferred the stage and television. But that cast…that was amazing. It was a privilege to be a small part of that movie.”

We talked about John Fiedler (the voice of Piglet from Winnie The Pooh) who had co-starred with Klugman on a couple of episodes of The Odd Couple and appeared in 12 Angry Men as Juror #2.  I told Klugman he just passed away.

Klugman was surprised and said, “I just spoke to John a few months ago.” Apparently no one had told him about Fiedler’s very recent death. He was silent for a moment or two, looked out toward the window and said slowly, “They’re all gone. Fonda, Balsam, Cobb, Warden. I’m the last of the 12 Angry Men.”

The Doors And A Parody Of The Doors

Light My Fire” And “Reading Rainbow” On The Ed Sullivan Show

Forty-five years ago, on September 17, 1967, The Doors performed for the first and last time on The Ed Sullivan Show. The variety program which had introduced America to The Beatles three years previously, was consistently one of the most watched shows in America and could help establish a successful career for a comedian, singer, band or any entertainer.

Before singing their hit Light My Fire, live on national television, the band was warned by a Sullivan show staff producer not to sing the word “higher” when the phrase “girl we couldn’t get much higher,” came up. It was suggested Morrison the poet, come up with another word; “flier”,  “wire”,  it didn’t matter, just not sing “higher.” The band was told the word “higher,” could imply illegal drug use and was inappropriate for a family program like The Sullivan Show. The Doors were furious and argued their point, but eventually relented and told the producer they would alter the lyric.  As soon as the producer left the room, The Doors lead singer Jim Morrison declared to the rest of the band “We’re not changing a word.”

The Doors first performed “People Are Strange” and then launched into “Light My Fire.” Morrison of course kept the word “higher” in the song.

Sullivan was livid and offstage, a furious staff producer cornered The Doors and chastised the band telling them they would have been on the Sullivan show six more times but now “you will never appear on The Ed Sullivan Show ever again.” They were banned.

Jim Morrison looked at the producer and said, “Hey man, we just did the Sullivan show.”

Classic.

Jimmy Fallon has the ability to imitate a wide range of musicians from Neil Young to Bob Dylan. So give him the chance to reproduce The Doors set from The Sullivan Show; get musicians wearing the exact same costumes and playing the exact same instruments and do a “Doors” version of, what is to me, an obscure PBS TV show theme song, Reading Rainbow, and you have a recipe for brilliance and hilarity.

Here is Jimmy Fallon as Jim Morrison performing a Doors song that never existed, “Reading Rainbow.”

And below is the original song for Reading Rainbow.

Spotlight On “America”

America – Performing Live

Unfairly labeled second rate Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young imitators by many music critics, America was able to crack the music charts in the early to mid 1970’s with a string of pop rock hits. Their influences ran from The Beatles to The Beach Boys to Jackson Browne.

Guitarists, singers and songwriters all, the trio of Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek crafted songs that have stood the test of time. Originally staples of AM radio and now relegated to light FM and background supermarket music play-lists, the band deserves a better fate. Their tight harmonies and musical abilities are quite honestly underrated. Especially live. Continue reading

50th Anniversary Of the Death Of Ernie Kovacs

Ernie Kovacs Is Killed In A Car Accident January 13, 1962

Ernie Kovacs would have turned 93 on January 23 and today I’ll be remembering him.

Kovacs was a brilliant comedian who was killed in a car crash 50 years ago today on January 13, 1962 at the age of 42.

Kovacs was an author, radio, television and movie star.  Most of all he was a true genius in an industry that bandies about that word rather loosely. Had Kovacs lived he would have surely gone on to greater heights.

Because he died at a relatively young age and most of his TV work is gone forever, many people unfortunately have never heard of, or seen Ernie Kovacs. Continue reading

Jimmy Savile, Long Time “Top of the Pops” Host (And Pervert) Is Dead at 84

Jimmy Savile, Zany British TV Host (and pervert – see update at end of article.)

Jimmy Savile was found dead at his home in Leeds October 29. He was just two days shy of turning 85.

In the United States Jimmy Savile is a relatively unknown name except to die-hard music fans or those who might have spent time in the United Kingdom.

In the UK you could not help but know Jimmy Savile. For twenty years, from its inception in 1964, Savile hosted Top of the Pops, a television music countdown show featuring hit singles.   Think of a British version of a cross between Casey Kasem’s radio program American Top 40 and Dick Clark’s television show American Bandstand and that was, Top of The Pops. Savile ended his reign as a regular host in 1984. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #8

Marilyn Monroe and Edward R. Murrow Share a Smoke, April 1, 1955

The caption for this press photo is:

News Commentator Edward R. Murrow holds a match to the cigarette Marilyn Monroe extends to her puckered lips, during discussions at the Ambassador Hotel in New York regarding the luscious actress’  forthcoming appearance on Murrow’s “Person To Person” television show.  Scheduled for April 8th, the TV show will be the second one Miss Monroe has ever done.

Here is interview that aired live April 8, 1955

Hush – Deep Purple with Playboy’s Hugh Hefner

Playboy After Dark –  Featuring the Original Deep Purple

Hugh Hefner’s swinging, late 1960’s TV show, Playboy After Dark had a wide variety of musicians, comedians and interesting people appear as  guests. This clip recorded in late 1968,  is one of the earliest television performances and one of the last to show the original Deep Purple performing their breakthrough song Hush.

This line-up is known as Deep Purple Mark I.  By the time this segment aired November 14, 1969, original vocalist Rod Evans and bass player Nick Simper, both founding members of the band, had been out of the band since July 1969 and were replaced by Ian Gillan and Roger Glover.  The new incarnation of Deep Purple would go on to have worldwide commercial success and set a standard for other hard rock and heavy metal bands to follow. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #7

Fred Allen, Mary Martin and Jack Benny – 1940

I believe Jack Benny was one of the funniest comedians of all time. Benny could elicit more laughs with a look, gesture or single utterance than other comedians could with an entire monologue.  He became a star in vaudeville and was one of the few entertainers who made the transition to radio, film and eventually television successfully. Although Jack Benny has been dead for over 37 years, he is still fondly remembered by millions of fans.

Radio comedian Fred Allen is almost completely forgotten today. His sharp, acerbic wit Continue reading

The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

The Triangle Fire – One Hundred Years Later

Anniversaries of older, tragic events are usually the only time those events play into the public consciousness. Other than that, they are rarely thought about, discussed or even remembered.

This week a vast amount of attention has been devoted by newspapers, PBS, HBO and news stations in New York that are marking the 100th anniversary of The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in which 146 people, mostly young immigrant girls, perished.

The details of the March 25th, 1911 conflagration which are summed up best by Cornell University’s Industrial and Labor Relations School web site are heartbreaking. Many of these girls Continue reading

Carole King, Tapestry & The Art Of The Album Cover

The Story Of The Tapestry Photo Shoot And Some Out-takes

One of the best selling albums of all time is Carole King’s Tapestry from 1971. The appealing cover image of Carole King sitting in the living room of her home in Laurel Canyon, CA was taken by rock n’ roll photographer Jim McCrary. An interesting sidenote was that King’s cat Telemachus was moved while sitting on the pillow from across the room by McCrary to be used in the final cover shot.

We identify famous covers and just accept that is the cover. The conclusion is “it’s the right cover!”  In Tapestry’s case, McCrary’s use of the cat definitely helps draw the viewer in.

Tapestry

What if a different cover had been used?

Here are four other photos from The Tapestry shoot

   

March 2 is the premiere of PBS’s “American Masters” which features Carole King in Troubadors: Carole King / James Taylor & The Rise of the Singer-Songwriter.