Jack Klugman: A Game of Pool

I was sad to hear that Jack Klugman passed away this week on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, we also lost the excellent actor Charles Durning, whose many accomplishments include a memorable role in O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000), on the same day too. The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Klugman is his great work in The Odd Couple (1970-1975). Apparently the show was on the minds of other people too, as after news spread about Klugman’s death, fans began going to 1049 Park Avenue in New York, the location of the apartment of Felix and Oscar. I remember watching the show regularly as a kid, and although the impetus for the storyline was the adult problem of divorce for the two men at the center of the story, a kid could easily relate to the humor the show found in the challenges of friendship.

Of course, Klugman did a lot of other great work in shows like Quincy, M.E. But when I think of Klugman my next thought after The Odd Couple is his great work in The Twilight Zone episode “A Game of Pool” (1961), also starring Jonathan Winters. In the episode that originally aired October 13, 1961,both Klugman and Winters, largely known for their comedic skills, show they can pull off drama just as well. Klugman’s character aptly illustrates the dream of being the best, as his character dreams of playing the greatest pool player of all time. But in the end, we also learn that with accomplishment comes its own kind of responsibilities. Check out “A Game of Pool” in the three videos below.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Klugman also appeared in three other episodes of The Twilight Zone, including another memorable starring role in an episode touching on the afterlife, “A Passage for Trumpet” (1960). His other two episodes were “Death Ship” (1963), and “In Praise of Pip” (1963). According to Wikipedia, Klugman’s four appearances in the original series tie him with Burgess Meredith for most appearances. In this video clip, Klugman discusses series creator Rod Serling and his work in the series. Here is hoping that Klugman and Durning both find more peace in the afterlife than Klugman’s character did in “A Game of Pool.”

What is your favorite work featuring Jack Klugman or Charles Durning? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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