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David Poland

By David Poland

Missing Jack Klugman

I grew up with the guy. Many of you did.

“The Odd Couple” was a joy and repeated, it seemed, 20 times a day, back when the number of channels in any given market could be counted on your hands.

The best episodes were when Oscar really wanted something… or really wanted to avoid something. The less pronounced the intensity, the weaker the episode. Tony Randall always made it worth watching as well, forever pirouetting through life while suffering bad sinuses and the constant threat of depression. (He was the Carrie Mathison of the era.)
“Quincy” was one of our—my sister and my—favorite shows. It was completely f-ing absurd. But there was a genius in putting such a slouch up front. Like Columbo before him, he was infinitely more interesting than investigators who took themselves too seriously. It was the era of the P.I. freak… the lanky and ancient Barnaby Jones, the cannonball that was Cannon. The only “straight” one was Mannix and he was employing a black woman… edgy at the time… and she was hot as hell, making it all a bit more.. ahem… askew…

But God, it was fun.

I was too young to drive, so like “Bob Newhart,” “Carol Burnett,” and “Alice”, the glorious falseness shaped my idea of the world.

I remember when Klugman lost his voice and, almost, his life to throat cancer. Incredible irony… the guy with THAT voice gets throat cancer. Of course, when he made his small comebacks, the well-remembered rawness of his voice became an advantage as it wasn’t shocking to hear him croak.

It’s a remarkable run. 90 years.

There seem to be more of these people going every year… as I close in on 50 myself.

The classic notion, that TV stars are people you like enough to invite into your home. So true. And I will miss Jack Klugman’s new visits… and treasure his old ones.

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2 Responses to “Missing Jack Klugman”

  1. Pat Hobby says:

    R.I.P. Oscar Madisoy

  2. William Carbone says:

    Just by my e-mail address being shows how much I adored The Odd Couple. 1049 by the way was the apartment building number on the show. I loved Jack Klugman and always wanted to meet him. Like myself, he was also a frequent visitor to horse race tracks. Also, another television program I adore is The Twilight Zone. Let us not forget Mr. Klugman’s 4 amazing performances in those episodes. Maybe I will meet you in heaven Mr. Klugman if I am so fortunate. God Bless.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon