Editorial: The odd couple, R.I.P.

Posted: Friday, June 29, 2001

The following editorial appeared in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

Jack Lemmon, the other half of one of Hollywood's most endearing couples, has died. That's the kind of news that leaves a collective lump in America's throat, which is not at all surprising because this extraordinarily talented two-time Oscar winner had the uncanny ability to bring a little bit of each of us to the screen.

It made no difference if the role called for light comedy or uncompromising drama, Lemmon instinctively knew how to punch the right buttons, the ones that make us look at his character and invariably see something familiar, something that more often than not tugs at our hearts.

Although his credits included "Days of Wine and Roses" and "Save the Tiger," which won him an Oscar for best actor in 1973, comedy was Lemmon's true calling. What made his comedy so special was the way he did it, with a sort of klutzy, self-conscious style that affectionately mirrored our own foibles. That was true even when Lemmon was cast as Felix Unger, the neat-freak other half of Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" that, of course, also starred Walter Matthau as the sultan of slobs, Oscar Madison. Lemmon's death Wednesday at age 76 came a year, almost to the day, after Matthau's.

G'night, Oscar. G'night, Felix.

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