Oscar-nominated actor George Segal has died at the age of 87 following a complication from surgery.
Segal worked well into his eighties as star of ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, and received an Oscar nomination in 1966 for his role in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
The news of his death was announced by his wife, Sonia Segal, on Tuesday. “The family is devastated to announce that this morning George Segal passed away due to complications from bypass surgery," she said.
A thriving acting career
Segal was best known as a comic actor, becoming one of the screen's biggest stars in the 1970s, when lighthearted adult comedies thrived.
But his most famous role was in a harrowing drama, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, based on Edward Albee's acclaimed play.
He was the last surviving credited member of the tiny cast, which included Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Sandy Dennis, all of whom were nominated for Academy Awards.
To younger audiences, he was better known for playing magazine publisher Jack Gallo on the long-running NBC series Just Shoot Me! from 1997 to 2003, and as grandfather Albert "Pops" Solomon on The Goldbergs since 2013.
In his Hollywood prime, Segal played a stuffy intellectual opposite Barbra Streisand's freewheeling character in 1970's The Owl and the Pussycat; a cheating husband opposite Glenda Jackson in 1973's A Touch of Class; a hopeless gambler opposite Elliott Gould in director Robert Altman's 1974 California Split; and a bank-robbing suburbanite opposite Jane Fonda in 1977's Fun with Dick and Jane.
'A kid at heart with a magical spark'
A number of actors and peers have paid tribute to Segal on social media.
"Today we lost a legend. It was a true honour being a small part of George Segal's amazing legacy," said The Goldbergs creator Adam Goldberg, who based the show on his childhood in the 1980s. "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."
Stand-up comedian Bob Saget offered his "deepest sympathies" to family and friends. "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 ... My deep sympathies to his family and friends," he wrote in a tweet.
Actor Ben Stiller said: "My personal favourite George Segal movie is The Hot Rock. What a career. What a nice man, what an iconic cool funny 70s movie star. #RIP"
"So beyond sad and heartbroken to say goodbye to my film dad, the late, great #GeorgeSegal," wrote actor Josh Gad, who starred alongside Segal in 2010's Love & Other Drugs. "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."
Who was George Segal?
Born in 1934 in Great Neck, New York, Segal began entertaining at the age of 8, performing magic tricks for neighbourhood children.
In 1956, Segal married television story editor Marion Sobel and they had two daughters, Elizabeth and Polly, before divorcing in 1981.
He married his second wife, Linda Rogoff, in London in 1983 and was devastated when she died of a stomach disease 14 years later.
"It was a time when I said, 'It's not adding up; I don't get it any more'," he recalled to an interviewer in 1999. "With Linda dying, I lost interest in everything. I worked just to make a living. Acting, like life, became a joyless job."
Eventually he reconnected with Sonia Schultz Greenbaum, who had been his girlfriend in high school about 45 years earlier. They married a few months after reuniting.