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Died December 24

It would be awfully hard to replace the great Walter Matthau in a role he seemed to be made for, but Jack Klugman made Oscar Madison his own onstage and on the popular sitcom "The Odd Couple." Klugman followed that up with a starring role as a medical examiner on television's "Quincy, M.E." We remember Klugman's life today as well as the lives of other notable people who died this day in history.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including actress Ava Gardner.

2017: Heather Menzies-Urich, actress who played one of the singing von Trapp children in the hit 1965 film, "The Sound of Music," dies at 68.

2015: William Guest, U.S. singer who was a member of Gladys Knight & the Pips, dies at 74.

2014: Buddy DeFranco, U.S. jazz clarinet player who performed with such artists as Oscar Peterson and Billie Holiday, dies at 91.

2012: Charles Durning, U.S. actor whose film credits include "The Sting," "Dog Day Afternoon," "Tootsie," and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas," dies at 89 of natural causes.

Charles Durning (Associated Press Photo)Durning quickly made an impression on movie audiences as the crooked cop stalking con men Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the Oscar-winning comedy "The Sting," according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Dozens of notable portrayals followed. He was the would-be suitor of Dustin Hoffman, posing as a female soap opera star in "Tootsie;" the infamous seller of frog legs in "The Muppet Movie;" and Chief Brandon in Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy." He played Santa Claus in four different movies made for television and was the pope in the TV film "I Would Be Called John: Pope John XXIII." Read more



2012: Jack Klugman, U.S. actor whose credits include "The Odd Couple" on Broadway and TV as well as the films "12 Angry Men" and "Days of Wine and Roses," dies at 90; he had been diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974.

Klugman's "Quincy, M.E." was laced with social commentary. The show took on eating disorders, weak drunk-driving laws, and airline safety issues. Most notably, the show and its star addressed rare, so-called "orphan" diseases. Onscreen and in real life, Klugman rallied support for a law to encourage and facilitate the creation of drugs to treat these diseases. The result? The Orphan Drug Act of 1983. So put aside the Klugman you think you know – the award-winning actor who brought slovenly Oscar Madison to life on television's "The Odd Couple" and whose stage and screen appearances included Juror No. 5 in "12 Angry Men'' and the lead role in the revival of "The Sunshine Boys." Read more



2009: George Michael, U.S. sportscaster whose local sports-highlights show became the long-running syndicated show called "The George Michael Sports Machine," dies of leukemia at 70.

In a statement, WRC-TV in Washington, where Michael had been a sports director, called him a pioneer in sports broadcasting, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. His show, which began as a late-night local feature, ran from 1980 to 2007. The trendsetting program became the first nationally syndicated sports highlights show in 1984 and was eventually broadcast in 194 markets across the United States and in 10 foreign countries. Read more




2008: Harold Pinter, Nobel Prize-winning British playwright and screenwriter whose works include "The Birthday Party," "The Homecoming," and "Betrayal," dies of liver cancer at 78.

"Pinter restored theater to its basic elements: an enclosed space and unpredictable dialogue, where people are at the mercy of each other and pretense crumbles," the Nobel Academy said, as quoted in his obituary by The Associated Press. "With a minimum of plot, drama emerges from the power struggle and hide-and-seek of interlocution." His characters' internal fears and longings, their guilt and difficult sexual drives were set against the neat lives they constructed in order to try to survive. Usually enclosed in one room, the acts usually illustrated the characters' lives as a sort of grim game with actions that often contradicted words. Gradually, the layers were peeled back. Read more



2004: Johnny Oates, U.S. Major League Baseball catcher who managed the Texas Rangers when they won three divisional titles in the American League, dies of a brain tumor at 58.

Oates, a left-handed hitting catcher, played for five teams in his major league career, starting with the Orioles in 1970. It was there that he encountered Cal Ripken Sr., and he later credited Ripken with helping turn him into a big-league player. When he was just starting out, Oates recalled days when Ripken stood on the pitcher's mound with a bucket of balls and a fungo bat, hitting one-hoppers at him. "He said if I could block them, I could block any pitches," Oates said, according to his obituary by The Associated Press. Read more




1999: Bill Bowerman, U.S. track and field coach who co-founded Nike Inc., dies in his sleep at 88.

1997: James Komack, U.S. actor and television producer whose TV production credits include "Welcome Back, Kotter" and "The Courtship of Eddie's Father," dies of heart failure at 73.

1994: John James Osborne, English playwright and screenwriter whose works include the influential play "Look Back in Anger," dies at 65 of complications of diabetes.

1993: Norman Vincent Peale, U.S. minister and author whose book "The Power of Positive Thinking" has sold more than 5 million copies, dies at 95.

1991: Walter Hudson, the 1,025-pound man from New York who was the fourth most obese human in medical history, dies of a heart attack at 46.

1984: Peter Lawford, English-born U.S. actor whose credits include "The Thin Man" on television and "Cluny Brown," "Royal Wedding," and "Two Sisters From Boston" on the big screen, dies of cardiac arrest at 61.

1980: Sigfred Ann "Siggie" Nordstrom, U.S. model, actress, socialite, and lead singer of the Nordstrom Sisters, dies at 87.

1974: Ottilie "Tilly" Losch, Austrian-born U.S. actress whose film credits include "Limelight," "The Good Earth," and "Duel in the Sun," dies of cancer at 72.

1957: Norma Tallmadge, U.S. film actress in the silent era and movie producer whose film credits include "The Passion Flower" and "Within the Law," dies of pneumonia at 63.

1955: Nana Bryant, U.S. actress who played Mrs. Wynona Nestor in the 1950s television series "Our Miss Brooks," dies at 67.

1914: John Muir, Scottish-born U.S. naturalist who advocated for the preservation of wilderness areas including Yosemite Valley and what is now Sequoia National Park, dies of pneumonia at 76.

1873: Johns Hopkins, U.S. philanthropist and businessman whose gifts founded a hospital, university, and three schools that bear his name, dies at 78.

1869: Edwin McMasters Stanton, U.S. lawyer and politician who served as U.S. secretary of war under President Abraham Lincoln, dies at 55.

Click to discover notable people who were born this day in history including actress Ava Gardner.