The talented actor had a career that spanned over six decades
Renowned actor George Segal has died at age 87, his wife, Sonia Segal, confirmed on Tuesday reports CNN. "The family is devastated to announce that this morning George Segal passed away due to complications from bypass surgery," she said in a statement provided by Sony Television. Segal, had a career that spanned over six decades and has gifted us with some classics like Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966—for which he received an Oscar nomination— and A Touch of Class in 1973. George Segal Jr. was born in New York City on Feb. 13, 1934, to George and Fanny (Bodkin) Segal. He grew up in Great Neck, on Long Island, where his father was a malt and hops dealer.
Today we lost a legend. It was a true honor being a small part of George Segal’s amazing legacy. 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. I think these memories say it all... pic.twitter.com/D1aNZuT20e— Adam F. Goldberg (@adamfgoldberg) March 24, 2021
As a young boy, George played trombone as a boy and was well-versed with the banjo. He was good enough to play in jazz bands in college, and even later in life. He also performed magic tricks at children’s parties, reveals The New York Times. "I was a hopeless magician, so I jazzed up the act," he said during an interview. "I’d open up with a few fast tricks, then two friends would come on and we’d start throwing shaving-cream pies at each other. The kids would always end up throwing cake at each other and everybody would have a wild time. Of course, it was always a one-shot deal and we were never invited back."
So sorry to hear about George Segal‘s passing. We had such fun making Owl and the Pussycat. May he Rest In Peace...— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) March 24, 2021
From boarding school in Pennsylvania, Segal attended Haverford College and eventually went on to graduate from Columbia with a drama degree, thus bringing him one step closer to his dreams. However, he had to work a few unpaid jobs at Circle in the Square, an Off-Broadway theater, such as a ticket-taker, usher, and a soda vendor, before he bagged his first role. In 1956, he appeared in his first play, The Iceman Cometh, and that's also where he met his first wife, film editor Marion Segal Freed. The two wed onstage on a Monday night in a dark theater.
Shortly thereafter, he got drafted into the army for a bit, following which he made his film debut in The Young Doctors in 1961. Soon, people suggested that he alter his name and get a nose job done to get more offers, but he refused to do so. "I didn’t change my name because I don’t think George Segal is an unwieldy name. It’s a Jewish name, but not unwieldy. Nor do I think my nose is unwieldy," he said in an interview in 1971. "I think a nose job is unwieldy. I can always spot ‘em. Having a nose job says more about a person than not having one. You always wonder what that person would be like without a nose job." However, he didn't have it easy all the time, reports Daily Mail.
By the 1970s, he often played wry leading men in films such as The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox, and Fun with Dick and Jane.
RIP Jolly #GeorgeSegal. Met this legend on @TheGoldbergsABC. Was honored to speak for him the day he got his ⭐️. Told story about how my Mom was a big fan - so much so that my jealous Dad once snapped “If you love GeorgeSegal so much why don’t you fuck him, Grace?” Farewell Pops. pic.twitter.com/MxkoVkl7Uo— KevinSmith (@ThatKevinSmith) March 24, 2021
In the '80s, when his movies didn't do that well at the box office, Segal turned to drugs to cope with the dip in his career. He did appear in TV films and series before returning to the big screen in supporting roles. He also divorced his first wife in 1983 and married a second time to Linda Rogoff, a one-time manager of The Pointer Sisters. He met Rogoff at Carnegie Hall when he played the banjo with his band: Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band. He acknowledged that it was thanks to Rogoff that he finally managed to steer away from drugs. "I was disenchanted, I was turning in on myself, I was doing a lot of self-destructive things... there were drugs... I'm also sure I was guilty of spoiled behavior."
My personal favorite George Segal movie is “The Hot Rock”. What a career. What a nice man, what an iconic cool funny 70’s movie star. #RIP— Ben Stiller (@RedHourBen) March 24, 2021
"I think it's impossible when that star rush comes not to get a little full of yourself, which is what I was," he said, reflecting on his career. In the '90s, Segal was getting known for television roles in Just Shoot Me and The Goldbergs. However, he endured a personal loss in 1996 after his wife Rogoff died after an allergic reaction to penicillin. "It went from bad to worse, and in the end her body couldn't take it anymore. In fact, she had a condition called aplastic anemia," he told New York Daily News. But he moved on in the same year tying the knot with Sonia Schultz Greenbaum, his former George School boarding school classmate. The two were together until Segal's death. His agent, Abe Hoch, said, "I will miss his warmth, humor, camaraderie and friendship. He was a wonderful human."
After his death was announced, celebrities took to Twitter to pay their tributes. Here's what some of them had to say:
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! #RIPGeorge #RIPGeorgeSegal 💔💔 pic.twitter.com/fEZpQSUkBU— Morgan Fairchild (@morgfair) March 24, 2021
So beyond sad and heartbroken to say goodbye to my film dad, the late, great #GeorgeSegal - I was so starstruck on set. To my surprise he not only let me ask him about all of his incredible experiences but indulged me in stories I could have never possibly imagined. RIP 🙏 pic.twitter.com/LcIeOXof1c— Josh Gad (@joshgad) March 24, 2021
George Segal in Where’s Poppa was one of the biggest laughs I have ever had in a movie. He was a great actor. Too many of these type of posts lately. RIP George!— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) March 24, 2021
So sad about the loss of George Segal. I grew up loving his films, from “Where’s Poppa?” to Sidney Lumet’s “Bye Bye Braverman,” to “The Hot Rock.” I got to work with him several times. This was last year at lunch. My deep sympathies to his family and friends. pic.twitter.com/HgQ6Z63kXO— bob saget (@bobsaget) March 24, 2021
George Segal was everything. I met him at Norby’s poker games. Always charming. Kind. Witty. Mysterious. A hell of an actor. I spoke to him two weeks ago. We were gonna meet at Greenblatts on Sunset next time I’m in LA. Hope there’s a good deli in heaven. Love you George. pic.twitter.com/4Ww5KBkhMU— Matthew Modine (@MatthewModine) March 24, 2021
Feeling sad this morning with the loss of George Segal. I feel like I’m losing my dad all over again. He was so much like my father and was always curious to hear everything about my dad so that he could play him to perfection. Thank you George for re-creating all my memories RIP— beverly goldberg (@goldilocks405) March 24, 2021
RIP George Segal, who somehow managed to be the perfect foil for both Elizabeth Taylor and David Spade.— Louis Virtel (@louisvirtel) March 24, 2021