George Segal

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This article is about the actor. For the sculptor and painter, see George Segal (artist).
George Segal
George Segal - 1965.jpg
Segal in 1965
Born George Segal, Jr.
(1934-02-13) February 13, 1934 (age 80)
Great Neck, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actor, musician
Years active 1960–present
Spouse(s) Marion Segal Freed (1956–1983; divorced)
Linda Rogoff (1983–1996; her death)
Sonia Schultz Greenbaum (1996–present)

George Segal, Jr. (born February 13, 1934) is an American actor and musician. He became popular in the 1960s and 1970s for playing an array of dramatic and comedy roles, while collaborating with filmmakers such as Mike Nichols, Robert Altman, Sydney Lumet, and Paul Mazursky. Some of his most acclaimed roles are in films such as Where's Poppa? (1970), Blume in Love (1973), California Split (1974), and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy for his performance in A Touch of Class (1973).

On television, he is best known for his roles as Jack Gallo on Just Shoot Me! (1997-2003) and as Albert "Pops" Solomon on The Goldbergs (2013–present).

Early life[edit]

Segal was born in Great Neck, New York, the son of Fannie Blanche Segal (née Bodkin) and George Segal, Sr., a malt and hop agent.[1][2][3] He is the youngest of three sons: oldest brother John, who worked in the hops brokerage business and was an innovator in the cultivation of new hop varieties,[4] and middle brother Fred, a screenwriter.[2] A six-year-old sister, Greta, died from pneumonia before Segal was born.[5]

Segal's family was Jewish, but he was raised in a secular household: "His forebears were socialists, and one of his paternal great-grandfathers even ran for governor of Massachusetts on the socialist ticket, earning the nickname of 'The Young Debs' (for socialist leader Eugene V. Debs)." Segal said his maternal grandmother "ran an anarchist boarding house, where my mother, who was of a Victorian nature, said they would just jump into bed with each other".[6] He did not attend religious school.[5]

When asked if he had a bar mitzvah, Segal stated: "I'm afraid not. I went to a Passover Seder at Groucho Marx's once and he kept saying, 'When do we get to the wine?' So that's my Jewish experience. I went to a friend's bar mitzvah, and that was the only time I was in Temple Beth Shalom. Jewish life wasn't happening that much at the time. People's car tires were slashed in front of the temple. I was once kicked down a flight of stairs by some kids from the local parochial school".[6]

Segal's maternal grandparents were immigrants from Russia,[5][7] and changed their surname from Slobodkin to Bodkin.[5] He first became interested in acting at the age of nine, when he saw Alan Ladd in This Gun for Hire.[3] He states: "I started off with the ukulele when I was a kid in Great Neck. A friend had a red Harold Teen model; it won my heart. When I got to high school, I realized you couldn't play in a band with a ukulele, so I moved on to the four-string banjo."[8]

When his father died in 1947, Segal moved to Manhattan with his mother.[9] He graduated from George School in 1951, and attended Haverford College.[10] He graduated from Columbia University in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts in performing arts and drama. He was drafted into the Army in 1956.[8][9]



After college, Segal got a job as an understudy in a Broadway production of Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh". He said: "The first time I went on stage, it was inspired. The second time was two months later, when I invited an agent and a number of other people to see me in the play. And I was petrified." His performance in the first act was "a disaster", but he said he made "a pact with God" and got through the rest of the play.[5] After serving in the Army, he appeared in Antony and Cleopatra for Joseph Papp and joined an improvisational group called The Premise, which performed at a Bleecker Street coffeehouse.[11] In 2001, he performed in Yasmina Reza's Art in his West End debut.[12]


Segal has played both drama and comedy, although he is more often seen in the latter. Originally a stage actor and musician, Segal appeared in several minor films in the early 1960s in addition to the well-known 1962 movie The Longest Day. He was signed to a Columbia Pictures contract in 1961, making his film debut in The Young Doctors and appeared in the television series Naked City.[13]

He was one of the stars of the 1965 film Ship of Fools, playing an egocentric player. He played the title role as a scheming P.O.W. in King Rat (1965), a role originally meant for Frank Sinatra. He went on to play an Algerian paratrooper captured at Dien Bien Phu, who leaves the French army to become a leader of the FLN, in Lost Command (1966). He was loaned to Warner Bros for Mike Nichols' classic adaptation of the Edward Albee play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1967). He played the young faculty member, Nick, in a role for which he was nominated for an Oscar.

For the next decade plus, Segal received many notable film roles. He appeared as a British secret service agent in The Quiller Memorandum (1966), a Cagneyesque gangster in The St. Valentine's Day Massacre (1967), a perplexed police detective Mo Brummel in No Way to Treat a Lady (1968), a bookworm in The Owl and the Pussycat (1970), a war-weary platoon commander in The Bridge at Remagen (1969), a man laying waste to his marriage in Loving (1970), a hairdresser turned junkie in Born to Win (1971),[14] co-starred with Jane Fonda as suburbanites-turned-bank-robbers in Fun with Dick and Jane (1977), and starred as a faux gourmet in Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?[15] (1978).

Segal headlined several acclaimed films by notable filmmakers. He starred with Ruth Gordon in Carl Reiner's 1970 dark comedy Where's Poppa?[16] Variety called the movie "insane," a black comedy with Segal as a young lawyer with an active death wish for his old Jewish mother, whose "senile eccentricities are ruining his career, sex life and health."[17] He played the lead role in Sydney Lumet's Bye Bye Braverman (1968), starred alongside Robert Redford in Peter Yates' 1972 heist comedy The Hot Rock, played a comically unfaithful husband in A Touch of Class (1973), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, starred as the titular midlife crisis victim in Paul Mazursky's 1973 romantic comedy Blume in Love, and co-starred alongside Elliott Gould as a gambling addict in Robert Altman's California Split (1974). For A Touch of Class, Segal won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, which was the second Golden Globe of his career.

After receiving fewer prominent roles for most of the 1980s, Segal played the sleazy father of Kirstie Alley's baby in Look Who's Talking (1989) (later making a cameo in its 1993 sequel) and played a left-wing comedy writer in For the Boys (1991). Other more recent roles include supporting performances in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996), Flirting with Disaster (1996), The Cable Guy (1996), 2012 (2009), and Love and Other Drugs (2010).


He also notably starred in the NBC award-winning television sitcom Just Shoot Me! (1997–2003) as Jack Gallo, the eccentric but lovable publisher of a New York fashion magazine, alongside Wendy Malick, Laura San Giacomo, Enrico Colantoni, and David Spade.[11] He was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 1999 and 2000 and a Satellite Award in 2002 for this part.

More recently, he played the character Murray Berenson in the television series Entourage and starred opposite Jessica Walter in the TV Land sitcom, Retired at 35 (2011–12).[18][19][20]

Segal currently appears on the 1980s-themed ABC sitcom The Goldbergs, with Segal working playing Jeff Garlin's father-in-law in a semi-autobiographical family based on Adam F. Goldberg's family.[21] The series entered its second season in September 2014.[22][23][24]


Segal is an accomplished banjo player. At Haverford College and Columbia University, he formed Bruno Lynch and his Imperial Jazz Band. Segal also played with a dixieland jazz band while in college at Columbia that had several different names. When he was the one who booked a gig, he would bill the group as "Bruno Lynch and his Imperial Jazzband." The group, which later settled on the name Red Onion Jazz Band, later played at his first wedding.[10] In the Army his band was called Corporal Bruno's Sad Sack Six.[8]

In 1967, Segal released his debut LP titled The Yama Yama Man; the title track is a ragtime version of the 1908 tune "The Yama Yama Man," with horns and banjos. Segal released the album at a time when he appeared regularly playing banjo on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson".[8]

In 1974 he played in A Touch of Ragtime, an album with his band, the Imperial Jazzband (which, other than its name, may or may not have had any relation to his college band). During the 1970s and 1980s, Segal made frequent television appearances with the "Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band", whose members included actor Conrad Janis on trombone. Recent engagements in Los Angeles have included guest spots with the award-winning residency Guitarology.

Segal was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. His appearances were marked by "eccentric banter with Johnny Carson, usually punctuated by bursts of banjo playing."[11]

Personal life[edit]

Segal has been married three times. He married film editor Marion Segal Freed in 1956, and they were together for 26 years until their divorce in 1983.[25] They had two daughters, Polly and Elizabeth. He was to married Linda Rogoff, a one-time manager of The Pointer Sisters, whom he met at Carnegie Hall when he played the banjo with his band[26] (the Beverly Hills Unlisted Jazz Band), from 1983 to her death in 1996.[13] He married his former George School boarding school classmate Sonia Schultz Greenbaum in 1996.[3]




Works or publications[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ "George Segal Biography (1934-)". Film Reference. Advameg, Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Klemesrud, Judy (January 10, 1971). "He's the Great Schlemiel". New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Vincent, Sally (July 7, 2001). "Return to the first act". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ "Paid Notice: Deaths Segal, John B.". New York Times. January 7, 2005. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Pfefferman, Naomi (August 28, 2013). "George Segal on ABC’s ‘The Goldbergs,’ ‘Where’s Poppa?’ and playing Jewish". Jewish Journal. Tribe Media Corp. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Schleier, Curt (September 18, 2013). "The Arty Semite: George Segal on 'The Goldbergs' and Playing Pops Solomon". The Forward. The Forward Association, Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "How to be a Jewish Son—or—My Son the Success!" (video). David Susskind Show. 1970. p. Season 12 : Ep. 7. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  8. ^ a b c d Terry, Clifford (April 2, 1993). "Banjo Pickin' With George Segal". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  9. ^ a b "Overview for George Segal - Milestones". Turner Classic Movies. Turner Sports and Entertainment Digital Network. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  10. ^ a b Segal, George. I've Got A Secret, April 11, 1966.
  11. ^ a b c Meisler, Andy (January 4, 1998). "Television; Out of the Polyester Past, a Comic Rogue Returns". New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "George Segal joins Art". BBC. March 28, 2001. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "George Segal waits for next up period". Spokane Chronicle. September 21, 1985. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  14. ^ Nugent, Phil. "Nitrate: The Forgotten Actor - George Segal". The High Hat. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  15. ^ King, Susan (January 24, 2011). "Funny thing about George Segal". L.A. Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Greenspun, Roger (November 11, 1970). "Where's Poppa (1970) Screen: 'Where's Poppa?' Aims to Remove Bachelor's Momma: Reiner Directs Comedy That Stars Segal Other Features Begin Their Runs Locally". New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  17. ^ "Review: 'Where's Poppa?'". Variety. December 31, 1969. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  18. ^ "TV Land Greenlights Second Original Sitcom 'Retired At 35' Starring Television, Stage and Film Star, George Segal". PR Newswire. April 20, 2010. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  19. ^ Hale, Mike (January 18, 2011). "Moving in With the Folks, Who May Not Be Thrilled". New York Times. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (January 3, 2010). "TV Land finds cast for George Segal pilot". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  21. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller (September 24, 2013). "Seitz on The Goldbergs: Remember the Eighties? This Sitcom Sure Does". Vulture. New York Media LLC. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  22. ^
  23. ^ Lowry, Brian (September 17, 2013). "TV Review: 'The Goldbergs'". Variety. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  24. ^ Harris, Will (September 23, 2013). "George Segal on learning how to bet from Robert Altman, fathering Denzel Washington, and more". A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  25. ^ Barnes, Mike (December 25, 2011). "Marion Segal Freed, Film Editor, Dies at 77". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  26. ^ Marx, Linda (June 29, 1981). "With a Touch of Brash, George Segal Finally Plays the Big Time". People. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 

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