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Actor Jack Klugman, a Thoroughbred horse owner and breeder, died Dec. 24 at age 90 in suburban Northridge, Calif. The cause of Klugman's death was not immediately known.

His sons called on his fans to embrace their father's tenacious and positive spirit.

"He had a great life and he enjoyed every moment of it, and he would encourage others to do the same," son Adam Klugman said.

Adam Klugman said his father had been slowing down in recent years, but wasn't battling cancer, which robbed him of his voice in the 1980s. Klugman taught himself to speak again, and kept working.

He remained popular for decades simply by playing the type of man you could imagine running into at a bar or riding on a subway with: gruff, but down-to-earth, his tie stained and a little loose, a Racing Form under his arm, a cigar in hand during the days when smoking was permitted.

Off-screen, Klugman owned racehorses and enjoyed gambling, though acting remained his passion.

"I always loved to gamble," he said. "I never got close to a horse. Fate dealt me a terrible blow when it gave me a good horse the first time out. I thought how easy this is. Now I love being around them."

A horse Klugman co-owned, Jaklin Klugman, finished third in the 1980 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) and fourth in that year's Preakness Stakes (gr. I). Another top horse owned in partnership by the actor was Pretty Unusual, winner of the grade II El Encino Stakes. Klugman owned Pretty Unusual with breeder Madeline Auerbach and trainer Barry Abrams.

Klugman's wife, actress-comedian Brett Somers, played his ex-wife, Blanche, in the "Odd Couple" series. The couple, who married in 1953 and had two sons, Adam and David, had been estranged for years by the time of her death in 2007.

In February 2008 at age 85, Klugman married longtime girlfriend Peggy Crosby, who was by his side when he died.

His attorney, Larry Larson, wrote in an email that Klugman is also survived by two grandchildren, and that memorial services have not been set.

Despite his on-screen wars with Tony Randall's neat-freak character Felix Unger on "Odd Couple," the show created a friendship between the men that endured after the series ended.

In "Quincy, M.E.," which ran from 1976 to 1983, Klugman played an idealistic, tough-minded medical examiner who tussled with his boss by uncovering evidence of murder in cases where others saw natural causes.

"We had some wonderful writers," he said in a 1987 Associated Press interview. "Quincy was a muckraker, like Upton Sinclair, who wrote about injustices. He was my ideal as a youngster, my author, my hero."

 

 

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