TV icon Jack Klugman died Monday at age 90. He had been in poor health in recent months but his death was not related to the cancer that had once robbed him of his speaking voice. In the 1980s, Klugman literally had to learn to speak again, a painstaking process that allowed him to resume his acting career. Klugman had been acting since the Golden Age of TV before he struck pay dirt as America's favorite slob, Oscar Madison opposite Tony Randall's neat freak Felix Unger in the hit TV version of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple. The show ran between 1970-1975 and remains extremely popular today. He was awarded two Emmys for his work in the series. Klugman followed this with another hit series, the crime show Quincy, M.E that ran from 1977-1983. Klugman became such an icon of television that many fans forget he had a successful career as a supporting actor in feature films such as Goodbye Columbus, Twelve Angry Men, The Detective, and The Days of Wine and Roses. For more click here
Acclaimed character actor Charles Durning has died from natural causes at age 89. He was nominated for Best Supporting Actor Oscars for The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and the remake of To Be Or Not To Be. Other major film credits include Dog Day Afternoon, The Sting, The Final Countdown and Sisters. For more click here
Okay, the following clip from The Jingle Bells Affair, which aired in December 1966, had plenty of cringe-inducing moments since it aired during The Man From U.N.C.L.E's notoriously campy third season. (The series would regain its mojo the next year, but by then it was too late: the show was cancelled in mid-season). Still, this episode has a goofy, charming quality about it. Akim Tamiroff plays the Communist party chairman who visits New York on a contentious diplomatic mission. Thanks to the intrusion of THRUSH, he ends up relying on Solo and Illya to protect him. Throw in a virginal Salvation Army girl, a cornball sub-plot about a sick kid, a naked commercial pitch for Macy's and the least believable final sequence in the show's history (with the Chairman expressing a wish to be the store's new Santa Claus!) and you have all the elements that outraged the show's fans at the time. Yet, in the spirit of Christmas, it's hard to be a Scrooge after so many years have passed...and there is something reassuring about having Robert Vaughn and David McCallum wishing us all a Merry Christmas.