He began his career in 1950. 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.
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. The following year, he married Peggy Crosby, with whom he had lived since 1988.
Born in Philadelphia on April 27, 1922 son of Rose, a hat maker, and Max Klugman, a house painter, his parents were Russian Jewish immigrants.
As a child he had been made to work as a street pedlar, and during especially lean stints in his early acting career he would sell his blood at $5 a pint.
Klugman served in the United States Army during World War II. He attended Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1948.
While there, his drama teacher told him, “Young man you are not suited to be an actor.
Klugman made his Broadway debut in Clifford Odets’s Golden Boy in 1952. He also found work on such television shows as Actor’s Studio and The Philco Television Playhouse.
On the big screen, he appeared in Grubstake (1952), Time Table (1956) and 12 Angry Men (1957) alongside Henry Fonda, E.G. Marshall and Ed Begley.
Directed by Sidney Lumet, 12 Angry Men provides an inside look at the members of a jury during a murder trial.
The film won three Academy Award nominations, including one for best motion picture. Klugman co-starred with Tony Randall as Unger on The Odd Couple, which debuted in 1970.
The show was a big hit, with audiences tuning in to see the humorous friendship and frequent conflicts between the two opposing personalities as they shared an apartment.
While their characters may have had their differences, the two actors had a strong friendship.
Both Klugman and Randall were nominated five times for Emmy Awards for their work on the show. Klugman won in 1971 and 1973, and Randall took home the prize in 1975.
He starred as a medical examiner in the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office on Quincy, M.E. Seen by some as a precursor to such popular forensic science shows as CSI, the show explored many seemingly natural deaths that turned out to be murders.
Quincy served as both detective and pathologist, leaving the lab to seek out the truth and solve the case.
Diagnosed with throat cancer in 1974 culminated with vocal surgery in 1989, which left Klugman’s voice harsh and gravelly.
Both his cancer and scratchy voice were written into several of his later film and television roles, including The Odd Couple: Together Again (1993), Dear God (1996), and Diagnosis Murder (1993).