R.I.P. George Segal, Oscar-nominated comedy legend of TV and film

He was a go-to leading man for rom-coms in the 1970s.

The Everett Collection

George Segal broke out into the mainstream after his performance in the 1966 classic Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? Segal played Nick, a young man who gets stuck in the middle of an older couple’s drunken fight at a dinner party. Though still early in his career, Segal held his own with costars Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. He even received an Oscar nomination for his efforts.

Segal’s first onscreen credits came just six years earlier in two Play of the Week Broadway productions videotaped for television. It was a fitting start to a career that owed enormous success to theatrical adaptations.

In 1961, Segal won his first movie role – a small part in the medical drama The Young Doctors starring Ben Gazzara and Eddie Albert. The next year he appeared in John Wayne’s D-Day epic The Longest Day. After acting on TV shows like Naked City and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Segal’s first lead film role came in 1965’s King Rat.

Segal’s early career in film was defined mostly by dramas. In addition to Virginia Wolf and King Rat, there was spy thriller The Quiller Memorandum and violent mob drama The St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

But his genial personality and comedy chops shined on 1960s television, where he played banjo with the Smothers brothers and made multiple appearances on The Match Game.

The 1970s saw Segal really come into his own. He starred in The Owl and the Pussycat opposite Barbra Streisand, The Hot Rock with Robert Redford, Robert Altman’s California Split, and the original Fun with Dick and Jane — not to mention Carl Reiner's dark comedy Where's Poppa?

In the 1980s, Segal had a series of interesting flops. In the film Carbon Copy, he played a rich, white executive who finds out he has a black son he never knew about. Segal starred alongside a young actor in his first big-screen role — Denzel Washington.

A few years later on TV, Segal lead the sitcom Take Five, about a man who starts a Dixieland band in San Francisco. It utilized his real-life musical talent but only aired two mere episodes before getting canceled. The drama series Murphy's Law, with Segal as an alcoholic insurance investigator, was also canceled during the first season.

But his career soon bounced back. One of his most well-known roles came in the late 1990s/early 2000s sitcom Just Shoot Me! He played the father of Laura San Giacomo’s Maya, who inadvertently becomes her boss.

George Segal never retired from acting, most recently playing the family patriarch in the nostalgic sitcom The Goldbergs. He passed away this week at the age of 87.

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KevinHartford 27 months ago
Loved Mr. Segal in "The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox" with Goldie Hawn.
38 months ago
Whenever Johnny Carson summoned actors to be on the Tonight Show "panels" to discuss monumental news events of the day, he'd invariably pick Segal and Orson Bean.
jacko3 38 months ago
George Segal, a great talent .. GOD Bless him for eternity .. Amen - Alleluia!
Flash4001 38 months ago
He was also in "Look Who's Talking"
Sway 38 months ago
Enjoyed all his work.
WhiteRook 38 months ago
Two of my favorite George Segal movies are "The Quiller Memorandum" I loved the cat and mouse between him and Senta Berger, The other movie is "The Bridge at Remagen" where he plays a combat engineer. a man with a mission like no other. I already miss that smile and dry wit.
lowellden WhiteRook 38 months ago
Fox Movies channel shows Quiller quite often. Great movie! Amazing locations in West Berlin.
frances3agape 38 months ago
I enjoyed him as the cop in NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY with Rod Steiger and Natalie Wood in THE LAST MARRIED COUPLE IN AMERICA.
stephaniestavropoulos 38 months ago
In checking to see if You Tube had any clips of GS's appearances from MG, {I didn't see any, only Rita Moreno's from the '70's/'80's.} I ran across a documentary slide show for him. For those who wish to see it, type "In Memory Of George Segal." A still shot of his appearance from "The Young Doctors" will appear. To list his accomplishments, yes you get a sense of all he has done. But when you see all of the photos....that's when the magnitude of his thespian accomplishments sinks in! {Leastways it did for me.}
stephaniestavropoulos 38 months ago
To clear up any confusion, {and seeing as METV failed to mention when he appeared,} George Segal was on The Match Game, but not the '70's version. He was on it, with Rita Moreno January 16-20, 1967. Yes, Gene Rayburn was the host back then, as well.
Greg 38 months ago
Sitcoms to drama tv and movies Segal did it all. He never seemed to have the I'm a star attitude working on TV after being in many big films. RIP George poppop Goldberg.
DethBiz 38 months ago
RIP Mr. Segal. I will always think of him as Mo Brummel. Great actor!
Tresix 38 months ago
I really liked him in the thriller “No Way to Treat a Lady”. However, I think he practiced for “The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” by watching James Cagney’s performance in “The Public Enemy” on a loop and imitating it. The fight between him and his wife over the first coat is one of my favorite guilty pleasure scenes!
DethBiz Tresix 38 months ago
Loved him in No Way to Treat a Lady as well. In my opinion one of Rod Steiger's all-time best acting performances.
Tresix DethBiz 38 months ago
My remark should have said “fur coat”.
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