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December 24 in Twilight Zone History: Remembering actor Jack Klugman ('A Passage For Trumpet')

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Dec 24, 2017

Today, December 24, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers legendary actor Jack Klugman, who passed away on this day in 2012 at 90.

Klugman (1922-2012) was so memorable in four starring roles on The Twilight Zone. He made his TZ debut as suicidal trumpet player Joey Crown in "A Passage for Trumpet"; he was pool shark Jesse Cardiff, who battles Jonathan Winters' Fats Brown in the wonderful "A Game of Pool"; he donned space garb as ship commander Captain Paul Ross in the one-hour "Death Ship"; and he returned one last time as sorrowful bookie Max Phillips in the Season 5 episode "In Praise of Pip," in which the Vietnam War is referenced for the first time in prime-time series television.

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In the memorable "A Game of Pool," Jack Klugman played a gritty pool shark obsessed with beating the legendary Fats Brown (Jonathan Winters). Unfortunately, Brown is dead, but in The Twilight Zone that isn't necessarily a problem. 

Interviewed over the years, Klugman always had great things to say about Rod Serling and the quality of his writing – it was the gospel to him.

Klugman, like Martin Balsam, John Fiedler, Edward Binns, and Jack Warden, got one of his first memorable roles in the original 12 Angry Men, playing the juror who demonstrates the proper use of a switchblade knife.

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In "Death Ship," Jack Klugman is the commander of a space expedition who, with his two companions (Ross Martin, Fred Beir), makes a startling discovery on an alien world.

Of course, he went on to play memorable series leads as sportswriter Oscar Madison on The Odd Couple and medical examiner Quincy, gathering 10 Emmy nominations and two wins in his long TV career.

So, on this Christmas Eve, let's hoist one to a TZ legend, forever immortalized in four classic stories that could only be told in The Twilight Zone.

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Bookie Max Phillips (Jack Klugman) has a surprising reunion with his young son Pip (Billy Mumy) in the moody fifth season episode "In Praise of Pip."