US actor George Segal, best known for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Just Shoot Me & The Goldbergs, has died aged 87.
The Hollywood Reporter notes his wife confirmed he died after complications from Coronary artery bypass surgery.
Segal started in off-Broadway roles before television roles, ahead of his successful film career. He was one of the first American film actors to rise to leading man status with an unchanged Jewish surname, helping to pave the way for artists such as Dustin Hoffman and Barbra Streisand.
Amongst his best known movies are Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, A Touch of Class, Fun With Dick and Jane.
During his remarkable 1970-80 run in film, 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), Goldie Hawn in The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox (1976), 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). Later films included The Mirror Has Two Faces, Flirting With Disaster, The Cable Guy, To Die For, Love & Other Drugs, 2012 and Look Who’s Talking.
In 1988, Segal got the lead on Murphy’s Law, playing an insurance fraud investigator, but the show lasted just 13 episodes.
From 1997 to 2003, Segal had his most prominent role in years when he starred in workplace sitcom Just Shoot Me! as Jack Gallo, the successful yet often oblivious owner and publisher of a New York City fashion magazine.
He followed it up as Albert “Pops” Solomon, the eccentric but loveable grandfather on The Goldbergs -a role he was still performing.
But there were numerous other TV credits including Entourage, Boston Legal, Private Practice, Pushing Daisies, The Simpsons, Burke’s Law, High Tide, Caroline in the City, Tracey Takes On, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, American Dad, Retired at 35, The Naked Truth and The War at Home.
He once said of his performing, “I think comedy is a very good grounding for everything. I always try to find the humor and the irony in whatever character I am playing because I think of myself as a comedic actor. So that makes drama a lot more fun for me by not taking it so seriously, you know.”