George Segal, Veteran Actor and Leading Man of Many Lighthearted Comedies Passes Away at 87

What a career beloved comedian and actor George Segal truly had. From Where’s Poppa?,” ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ and ‘A Touch of Class’ to ‘Just Shoot Me!’ and ‘The Goldbergs’ he became an icon legend in comedy and acting. Segal passed away at the age of 87 due to complications from bypass surgery his wife, Sonia announced. He passed away in Santa Rosa, California.

Although he was most associated with comedy and playing brainy, neurotic characters, Segal’s acting range was considerable.

Segal starred in the NBC sitcom “Just Shoot Me” from 1997-2003, and in 2013 was still going strong as Pops Solomon, the flirty grandfather always on the lookout for the ladies, on ABC’s 1980’s set The Goldbergs.

“On behalf of everyone at the Goldbergs, we are devastated at the loss of our dear friend George,” a statement from the show said. “He was kind, sweet, beyond talented and funny. George was the true epitome of class, and he touched all of our lives so deeply. It was an honor and a privilege to have him as a colleague and friend all of these years. It is no surprise to any of us that knew him so well that he is a true national treasure.”

“I am saddened by the fact that my close friend and client of many years has passed away,” his longtime manager Abe Hoch said in a statement. “I will miss his warmth, humor, camaraderie and friendship.  He was a wonderful human.”

During his remarkable 1970-80 run, Segal teamed up with leading ladies Eva Marie Saint in Loving (1970), Barbra Streisand in The Owl and the Pussycat (1970), Susan Anspach in Paul Mazursky’s Blume in Love (1973), Glenda Jackson in A Touch of Class (1973), Goldie Hawn in The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976), Jane Fonda in Fun With Dick and Jane (1977), Jacqueline Bisset in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (1978) and Natalie Wood in The Last Married Couple in America (1980).

He also starred during the decade in the caper flick The Hot Rock (1972), in the sci-fi thriller The Terminal Man (1974), in Robert Altman’s gambling film California Split (1974) and as Sam Spade Jr. in The Black Bird (1975).

The youngest of four children, George Segal Jr. was born on Feb. 13, 1934, in Great Neck, New York. His father was a malt-and-hops agent and his mother, Fanny, a housewife. The family was Jewish but not religious, and he never received a bar mitzvah.

When he was 9, he saw Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire at the local movie house and decided to become an actor. “He was this guy with a trench coat and a gun, and Veronica Lake was nuts about him,” he recalled. “Something clicked in me that this was a job, and I wanted it.”

He attended the George School, a private Quaker boarding school, in Newtown, Pennsylvania, and then headed to Philadelphia-area Haverford College, where he was the banjo-playing leader of Bruno Lynch and His Imperial Jazz Band.

After he was drafted into the U.S. Army and stationed on Staten Island, he got his bachelor’s degree in drama from Columbia University in 1955. His first job in the theater was janitor at the Circle in the Square.

He made his stage debut off-Broadway in 1956 in Moliere’s Don Juan, which featured Peter Falk, then appeared with Jason Robards in The Iceman Cometh and in 1959 in Leave It to Jane. For a brief spell, he was a member of the New York Shakespeare Festival Company.

In the early ’60s, with the solemnity of the Actors Studio tradition in vogue, Segal sidestepped The Method: “Everybody was so hung up there,” he said, “they were afraid to just act.” Instead, he co-founded a comedy improv revue, The Premise.

“I learned more about real motivation and how to improvise than I could have anywhere else,” he told Newsweek in 1970. While with The Premise, he was spotted by producer Larry Turman and signed for a small role in The Young Doctors (1961), then played a U.S. Army Ranger in The Longest Day (1962).

You can read more about Segal from our friends at The Hollywood Reporter.

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