Monday, December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman

Of course he was Quincy, and we'll always remember Oscar Madison.

He also appeared in several very good "Twilight Zone" episodes.

But when I learned of Jack Klugman's death, one thing leaped to mind:

He was the last surviving member of the cast of the original film version of "12 Angry Men."

An assemblage that also included Henry Fonda, Ed Begley, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden, E.G. Marshall, Robert Webber and John Fiedler.

The very definition of "powerhouse cast."

And as I was writing this, it occurred to me that the very definition of "non-powerhouse cast" would consist of my fellow students and I in our 10th-grade production of the play.

Perhaps "production" is putting it too strongly -- the nun who taught English had us act out the play in class.

But it was a small class with not that many male students, so it was really a performance of "10 Angry Men and Two Women Who Are Getting a Mite Put Off Themselves."

If you've never seen "12 Angry Men" in any of its incarnations, I won't be giving much away by telling you that a high point of the play is a confrontation between Juror #8, who believes the young murder defendant is innocent, and Juror #3, who wants the poor kid to fry. (I think I was Juror #5 -- Klugman's part.)

To prove a point, #8 goads #3 into such a fit of anger that #3 lunges for him, only to be restrained by some of the other jurors.

It's a loud, emotional scene.

Right afterward, our teacher said she didn't find our performance of that scene convincing. No, not at all.

And I remember that right after she said this, I looked at the closed door to our classroom and noticed that the principal, who'd been teaching a class next door, was standing behind it, peering at us through a window, goggle-eyed, apparently afraid that we were about to start a rumble.

Her review was good enough for me.

I can just hear Confucius saying it....

At the end of my lunch at a local Chinese restaurant, I dutifully cracked open my fortune cookie and found the following message:

"Keep on keeping on."