Hollywood is mourning two of its favourite actors, who died on Christmas Eve. Jack Klugman, who rose to prominence on the big screen in the 1950s before finding his home on TV, was 90. Charles Durning, a familiar supporting character actor since the 1970s, was 89.
It was as Juror Number 5 in Sidney Lumet’s 1957 courtroom drama 12 Angry Men that Jack Klugman came to public attention. But, equally at home with comedy and drama, he’ll be better remembered by many as one half of The Odd Couple; not the big screen version, but its TV spin-off in the early 1970s, a role that won him a Golden Globe.
The late 70s and early 80s saw him take the role of the eponymous crime-solving medical examiner in Quincy ME. In 1989, he lost a vocal chord to cancer, but managed to teach himself to speak again.
Having played everything from Nazi colonels to the Pope, Charles Durning became known as the king of character actors. Rarely a lead but always a crucial and dominating screen presence, Durning’s film career exploded as a crooked cop in The Sting in 1973. Since then, he was rarely off screen, being seen in dozens of films, from commercial favourites such as Tootsie and One Fine Day, through the Coen brothers’ Hudsucker Proxy and O Brother Where Art Thou? to quirky films, including The Music of Chance – always in key supporting roles. Durning, too, won a Golden Globe for a TV role and in the early 1980s, he was twice nominated for an Oscar, for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and To Be or Not to Be.