As reported by Deadline, actor George Segal—who earned an Academy Award nomination from his role in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? but was more recognizable in recent years for his sitcom work on Just Shoot Me! and The Goldbergs—has died. His wife, Sonia Segal, confirmed in a statement that he died this morning “due to complications from bypass surgery.” Segal was 87.
Born in New York in 1934, Segal became interested in acting when he saw noir film This Gun For Hire as a kid, realizing during the movie that star Alan Ladd got to be cool for a job. He would show up on set every day, they’d put him in a trench coat, and that was his job. Speaking with The A.V. Club in 2013, Segal said that it was the first time he “put all that together.” After serving in the army, Segal studied at the prestigious Actors Studio and started to get roles in Broadway plays, eventually transitioning to movies for the first time in 1961 with The Young Doctors. In 1966, Segal landed what would be the biggest role of the first half of his career, playing Nick in Mike Nichols’ Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? adaptation opposite Sandy Dennis, Richard Burton, and Elizabeth Taylor. Segal was nominated for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars that year.
Virginia Woolf opened the door to a lot of big roles for Segal, with appearing alongside Robert Redford in The Hot Rock, starring in Carl Reiner’s Where’s Poppa?, and appearing with Elliott Gould in Robert Altman’s California Split—a film that Segal said was very highly regarded in the gambling community. As time went on, though, Segal’s career started to dip, with him getting fewer prominent film roles in the late-’70s and ‘80s (though he did work with Denzel Washington in Carbon Copy and Burt Reynolds in Stick, and he was in Look Who’s Talking).
At the same time, though, Segal’s appearances on television started to tick up. He showed up on Murder She Wrote and The Larry Sanders Show, as well as TV movies like Seasons Of The Heart and Houdini, but his career got a second wind in 1997 when he was cast as fashion magazine mogul Jack Gallo on the sitcom Just Shoot Me. Segal’s character, sort of a Donald Trump-type from the days before that became unpalatable, was the absent father of Laura San Giacomo’s Maya, with the show largely centering around the wacky hijinks at Gallo’s magazine and his attempts to reconnect with his daughter.
The show ran until 2003, with Segal mostly staying on TV afterward (though he did appear in 2012 and Love & Other Drugs). He was on Entourage, Pushing Daisies, and short-lived TV Land sitcom Retired At 35 before landing his second major TV role as Pops, the eccentric grandfather on Adam Goldberg’s semi-autobiographical sitcom The Goldbergs in 2013. Segal had nothing but glowing things to say about the then-new series when he spoke to The A.V. Club, noting that it was “high-level stuff” and that Goldberg had clearly hit on something special with a show that was so thoughtfully pulled from his own life. Segal’s final episode is expected to air on ABC on April 7, with Deadline saying the network is “expected to pay tribute to Segal on-air.”