George Segal, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in 1966’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and worked on the ABC sitcom “The Goldbergs” in his late 80s, died Tuesday in Santa Rosa, California.
“The family is devastated to announce that George Segal passed away because of complications from bypass surgery,” Sonia Segal said.
George was 87 when he died. He was very well known as a comic actor, rising to prominence as one of the film industry’s greatest stars in the 1970s—times when adult comedies with a lighthearted tone thrived. However, many people believe that his most well-known role was in a harrowing drama called “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
For younger viewers, he was best known for his roles as magazine editor Jack Gallo on the long-running NBC series “Just Shoot Me” from 1997 to 2003, and as Albert “Pops” Solomon on “The Goldbergs” since 2013.
“Today we lost a legend. It was a true honor being a small part of George Segal’s amazing legacy,” “Goldbergs” creator Adam Goldberg, who based the show on his own childhood in the 1980s, said. “By pure fate, I ended up casting the perfect person to play Pops. Just like my grandfather, George was a kid at heart with a magical spark.”
In “Virginia Woolf,” he played Nick. Co-staring with Richard Burton, who played George; Elizabeth Taylor, who played Martha; and Sandy Dennis, who played Honey. He was the last alive member of the small cast, all four of whom received Academy Award nominations.
Some of the best directors of the 1960s and 1970s, including Sidney Lumet, Paul Mazursky, Robert Altman, and Mike Nichols, cast Segal for his lightly satirical everyman personality, and he often portrayed an unlucky-in-love professional or a writer who gets in over his head.
He drove the film to fame for a long time. Then, in the late 1970s, “Jaws” and other action films changed the nature of Hollywood films, and Segal’s light comedies became obsolete.
“Then I got a little older,” George said in a 1998 interview. “I started playing urban father roles. And that guy sort of turned into Chevy Chase, and after that, there was really no place to go.”
In his glory days in Hollywood, he portrayed a stuffy intellectual opposite Barbra Streisand’s freewheeling prostitute in 1970’s “The Owl and the Pussycat,” a cheating husband opposite Glenda Jackson in 1973’s “A Touch of Class,” a desperate gambler opposite Elliot Gould in director Robert Altman’s 1974 “California Split,” and a bank-robbing suburbanite opposite Jane Fonda.
Then, in 1997, he found success with the David Spade sitcom “Just Shoot Me,” in which he played Gallo, a man who, despite his gruff demeanor, hires his daughter (Laura San Giacomo) and keeps Spade’s useless office-boy character on his payroll merely because he cares about both.
“So sorry to hear of the passing of the wonderful George Segal! We did The Zany Adventures of Robin Hood together & I guested on Just Shoot Me. One of a kind and always a joy!” Morgan Fairchild tweeted.
“I am saddened by the fact that my close friend and client of many years has passed away. I will miss his warmth, humor, camaraderie, and friendship. He was a wonderful human,” Abe Hoch, Segal’s longtime manager, said.
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