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April 27 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor Jack Klugman on the anniversary of his birth

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Apr 27, 2018

Today, April 27th, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the birth of actor Jack Klugman.

Klugman (1922-2012) starred in four timeless TZ episodes, tying him with Burgess Meredith for the most leading roles in the series. Creator Rod Serling's desire to weave an anthology series around everyday people is perfectly realized in Klugman's always gritty performances.

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Joey Crown (Jack Klugman) plays a soulful horn in "A Passage for Trumpet," another bravura performance by the classic character actor.

In "A Passage for Trumpet," he's down-on-his-luck trumpet player Joey Crown, a man who considers suicide a blessing, but learns the hard way that there’s always a glimmer of hope even in the darkest moments. In "A Game of Pool," Klugman transforms effortlessly into Chicago pool shark Jesse Cardiff, a hustler always living in the shadow of the late Fats Brown (Jonathan Winters). And in the Season 4 hour-long episode "Death Ship," Klugman teams with Ross Martin and Fred Beir as a space jockey confronted with the horrifying realization that he and his fellow pilots may be dead.

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A team of spacemen (left to right: Jack Klugman, Ross Martin, Fred Beir) can't believe what they're seeing on the surface of another planet in "Death Ship."

Klugman's final TZ episode was "In Praise of Pip," in which he plays bookie Max Phillips, a sorrowful sort whose son may be dying in Vietnam.

Klugman considered Serling's crisp dialogue the gospel in television writing, and he was fortunate to star in three Serling classics ("Death Ship" was written by Richard Matheson).

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While sweating out the news that his son has been badly wounded in Vietnam, bookie Max Phillips can't believe he's seeing a younger version of that son (Billy Mumy) on the pier in Santa Monica in the 5th season gem "In Praise of Pip."

So let's hoist a tall glass of champagne to all of Klugman's marvelous characters and the amazing journeys they went through to go deep in The Twilight Zone.

And while we're at it, I send a big hug to the heavens for my mom, Eve Rubin, who was also born on this glorious day and left this small planet in 2013. Love ya Mom, forever.