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.
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.
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).
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.