Belated Tribute to Recently Departed

We apologize for being off-the-air, as it were. On Sunday (December 23rd) we posted a violation of the WordPress agreement. In the time since our suspension, three people have passed away and we are usually on top of those dearly departed we have so loved and admired in the world of entertainment.

The first of which, on Monday morning, was:

Mr. Jacob Joachim Klugman — or Jack Klugman.

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Most notably we loved him as Oscar Madison on the TV adaptation of the Neil Simon play/movie, The Odd Couple (coincidentally he also co-starred with movie’s Felix Ungar, Jack Lemmon in the 1962 classic, Days of Wine and Roses)

Of course most remember him as Quincy, M.E.

Klugman began his career in the late 1940s on the stage. He later moved on to television and film work with roles in 12 Angry Men (1957) and Cry Terror! (1958).

During the 1960s, he guest starred on numerous television series. Klugman won his first Primetime Emmy Award for his guest starring role on The Defenders, in 1964. He also made a total of four appearances on The Twilight Zone from 1960 to 1963.

In 1970, Klugman reprised his Broadway role of Oscar Madison in the television adaptation of The Odd Couple, opposite Tony Randall. The series aired from 1970 to 1975. Klugman won his second and third Primetime Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for his work on the series. From 1976 to 1983, he starred in the title role in Quincy, M.E. for which he earned four Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

A long-time smoker, Klugman was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974. The cancer returned in 1989. During the course of treatment, Klugman lost a vocal cord which left him with a raspy voice.
Klugman married actress Brett Somers in 1953. The couple had two children before separating in 1974. They never divorced and were still married when Somers died in 2007. He married Peggy Crosby, with whom he lived since 1988, the following year. Klugman died on December 24, 2012 at the age of 90.

[SEE MR. KLUGMAN’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE HERE]

Charles Durning

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Mr. Durning was a personal loss for us. We have loved Mr. Charles Durning for many years, and although never a leader in Hollywood, Mr. Durning appeared in 4 of our Top 20 movies of all-time, as some of the single most memorable characters. And those are:

  • Tootsie
  • Dog Day Afternoon
  • O Brother Where Art Thou
  • Scarface (uncredited voice only)

But for the sake of comedy genius, Mr. Durning was also the Barone family priest in Everybody Loves Raymond, as well.

Charles Durning was born February 28, 1923 (d. December 24, 2012) and was an American actor with appearances in over 200 movies, television shows and plays.

Durning’s memorable roles included the Oscar-winning The Sting (1973) and crime drama Dog Day Afternoon (1975), along with the comedies Tootsie, To Be or Not to Be and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the last two of which earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor. He also won a Tony award for his portrayal of Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1990.

Charles Durning died of unknown causes at his home in Manhattan, New York on December 24, 2012, aged 89. In his obituary, the Los Angeles Times called Durning “the king of character actors”. The New York Times, which commented on Durning’s more than 200 credited roles, referred to him and actor Jack Klugman, who died the same day, as “extraordinary actors ennobling the ordinary”. The Huffington Post compared the two men, calling them “character actor titans”.

[PLEASE SEE MR. DURNING’S WIKIPEDIA PAGE HERE]

And finally, one of the most soulful voices in rock and roll – only bested by Aretha Franklin.

Fontella Bass

With her one major hit single, “Rescue Me”, Fontella is only one a very few soul singers who can endure rock history, as she has, with only one known record. And to us, that is power!

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“Rescue Me” shot up the charts in the fall and winter of 1965. After a month-long run at the top of the R&B charts, the song reached #4 at the pop charts and gave Chess its first million-selling single since Chuck Berry a decade earlier. It sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc.

Like many artists of her time, Bass experienced a revival of interest. She was featured on the PBS Special and accompanying DVD, “Soul Celebration. Soul Spectacular” recorded live at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, November 2001. Her voice can be heard on two tracks on The Cinematic Orchestra’s 2002 album Every Day, and another two tracks on their 2007 album Ma Fleur.

Bass received a star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame in the Loop in May 2000. She was the older sister of the R&B singer David Peaston.

Her health started fading after a series of strokes beginning in 2005. On December 26, 2012, she died at a St. Louis hospital from complications of a heart attack suffered in early December 2012; she was 72.

[PLEASE SEE MS. BASS’ WIKIPEDIA PAGE HERE]