george Segal was the handsome, easy-going and romantic comedian of the 1970s, roughly the male equivalent of Goldie Hawn, with whom he starred in the 1976 western game The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox. Her Hollywood A-list career began and ended with the decade itself and in a way defined the 1970s, or at least part of it. He had a string of prominent male roles opposite top women including Glenda Jackson, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Goldie Hawn, Jacqueline Bisset and Natalie Wood – before getting drawn into an unpleasant legal dispute. with producer-director Blake Edwards to drop out. of his comedy 10. It briefly soured his reputation in the film industry, ended his hot streak, and ushered in another shooting star in Hollywood romantic comedy, Dudley Moore.
While the brooding New Wave Hollywood presences such as Robert De Niro, Warren Beatty, and Al Pacino may have wowed critics, Segal’s light and dapper touch with funny, romantic dialogue was endearing for movie buffs at heart, who preferred entertainment to the frothy end. of the spectrum. Segal was the kind of good-humored, presentable actor that the Hollywood studio system used to produce and still does – it’s only now that men have come up with long, feathery cut hairstyles and tans. Coppertone. Like Steve Martin, Segal was a sure-fire hit on late-night TV talk shows thanks to his genius sense of fun and his wacky way of playing the banjo.
One of Segal’s best performances, however, was for new wave writer Robert Altman, in the 1974 film California Split, a dark buddy flick, starring Elliot Gould, about two men who bond by their common passion – and their addiction to – gambling. Segal shared something else with Gould when his time at the top of the movies came to an end: just as Gould rose to fame in the ’90s to television audiences as the father of Monica in Friends, George Segal found his own second act as a mischievous silver fox on TV Shows such as Just Shoot Me! and the Goldbergs.
Segal’s breakthrough came from the atypically serious and perhaps quintessentially theatrical role of Nick in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? in 1966, he played a young biology professor who, with his wife, arrived at a dinner party and found himself caught in the marital crossfire of the drunken hosts. Segal coolly stood up to the deafening histrionics of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. He was also an amoral black merchant in Bryan Forbes’ World War II satire King Rat (1965), one of the blood-spattered gangsters in Roger Corman’s The Valentine’s Day Massacre (1967) and a thief in The Hot Rock Caper (1972)) alongside Robert Redford.
But her true skills have been revealed in other films, like Carl Reiner’s cult black comedy Where’s Poppa? (1970) about a harassed middle-aged man trying to euthanize his aging mother by scaring her to death, and the syrupy romantic comedy Blume in Love (1973).
But the apotheosis of Segal’s career and the true definition of his brand came with A Touch of Class in 1973, in which he plays a married American businessman who comes to London and is fascinated by the stunning Glenda Jackson, known to Americans. audience for her Emmy-winning performance as Elizabeth I (showing in American Homes at PBS’s Masterpiece Theater). They had what everyone thought was chemistry, and the title was ironic yet not ironic. The chaotic and ridiculously absurd character affair (and extramarital) was anything but classy – but there was genuine love there, with the blue-blooded Briton conferring class on Segal, whose essential decency gave it so.
The most dated Segal’s climax film; her cheeky man-woman routine was always an inch away from being a bit seedy and dandy, and her subsequent comedy starring Natalie Wood, The Last Married Couple in America, is another Hollywood attempt to stay relevant in the Revolutionary Age. sexual, with a hint of swaying. Posterity may tend to favor Segal’s darker, non-fiction material: the 1974 sci-fi thriller The Terminal Man for director Mike Hodges and Altman’s game drama.
Segal is the forgotten Hollywood star, a super-celebrity whose course of action plunged into the Reagan era but who worked continuously in the decades after his heyday: cameos in comedies like that Flirting With Disaster and The Cable Guy, and a weird, uncredited ride. -on in To Die For by Gus Van Sant. It was television, not movies, that could absorb his image transition into an old man with twinkling eyes and adorably incorrigible. But in A Touch of Class, California Split, and The Terminal Man, George Segal was the face of 1970s Hollywood.