While Santa was making his rounds, Jack Klugman shuffled off this mortal coil on Christmas Eve. In his memory, last night I watched two of the episodes of The Twilight Zone in which he starred.
In “A Passage for Trumpet,” Klugman played a jazz trumpeter fallen from his own better self, who finds himself in a middle place (“between reality and shadow”) where an archangel in impeccable evening dress, and with expertise in a certain brasswind, rekindles his soul, and he realizes that in fact he does not want to throw his life away. “Somewhere along the line, I just forgot all the good things.” There is an earnest, gritty intensity in Klugman’s performance, which makes the story touching rather than sentimental. In a curious way, truly a Christmas story.
Jonathan Winters (who was reputedly nervous about the project on set) co-stars with Klugman in “A Game of Pool.” Klugman’s character will soon learn that trying to be the best at anything carries its own special risks, in or out of The Twilight Zone.
These performances in particular marked Klugman for one of the very best. Flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.