Ex-President Bush spends Christmas in hospital

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HOUSTON — Former President George H.W. Bush will spend Christmas with his wife and other family members in a Houston hospital after developing a fever and weakness following a monthlong, bronchitis-like cough, his spokesman said Monday.

A hospital spokesman had said the 88-year-old ex-president would be released in time to spend the holiday at home, but that changed after Bush developed a fever.

“He’s had a few setbacks. Late last week, he had a few low-energy days followed by a low-grade fever,” Jim McGrath, Bush’s spokesman in Houston, told The Associated Press. “Doctors still say they are cautiously optimistic, but every time they get over one thing, another thing pops up.”

He said the cough that initially brought Bush to the hospital on Nov. 23 is now evident only about once a day, and the fever appears to be under control, although doctors are still working to get the right balance in Bush’s medications. No discharge date has been set.

“Given his current condition, doctors just want to hang on to him,” McGrath said, adding that he didn’t know what had caused the fever.

Bush’s wife, Barbara; his son, Neil, and Neil’s wife, Maria, were expected to visit on Christmas, McGrath said.

Actor Jack Klugman excelled as slob, crime solver

Actor Jack Klugman excelled as both the slob roommate Felix and the passionate crime solver Quincy

Jack Klugman, who died Monday at age 90, was already 48 when he became a TV star, playing slovenly sportswriter Oscar Madison on ABC’s adaptation of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.”

He was not unknown, being by that time the possessor of an Emmy for his work on episode of “The Defenders” (“The Odd Couple” would earn him two more) and a Tony nomination for the original Broadway production of “Gypsy.” But henceforth, and through seven seasons of NBC’s “Quincy, M.E.,” he would be better known and beloved.

He had played Jack Lemmon’s AA sponsor in “Days of Wine and Roses” and Juror No.5 in the film “12 Angry Men.”

On “The Twilight Zone” he had appeared variously as a bookie, an alcoholic trumpeter, a pool player and a spaceship captain.

He tended to play good guys, though sometimes good guys down on their luck or driven to extremes, and when he played bad guys, they were of the sympathetic rather than socio- or psychopathic sort.

Born in Philadelphia of Russian Jewish parents (a hat maker and a house painter), he was urban and Eastern and anything but posh and he never tried to disguise it, pronouncing “liver” as “livah” and “beer” as “beyah” and exclaiming “Whatevah? Whaddya mean whatevah?” as would any East Side Kid.

He had the slightly mournful face of a hound, when he wasn’t animating its deepening folds with a smile. His voice, before he lost a vocal cord to cancer in 1989, was a trombone he could take from pianissimo to fortissimo in the space of a sentence.

Versatile actor Charles Durning dies at 89

Charles Durning, who was often called the ultimate character actor because of his ability to inhabit almost any role, from everyday workingman to politician to priest, and who saw some of the fiercest combat in Europe during World War II, died Monday at his home in New York City. He was 89.

His agent, Judith Moss, confirmed his death to the Associated Press but did not disclose the cause.

Durning appeared in almost 200 movies, numerous television shows and dozens of plays, portraying a range of characters from Shakespearean fools to crooked cops to military veterans haunted by the past.

He was nominated for two Academy Awards and nine Emmy Awards and won a Tony Award for his performance as Big Daddy in a 1990 Broadway revival of Tennessee Williams’s “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

But the short, thick-bodied Durning was virtually unknown until he was almost 50. He got his major break in Jonathan Miller’s 1972 Broadway play about the aging members of a high school basketball team, “That Championship Season.”

A year later, he appeared as a corrupt police officer in the con-man caper movie “The Sting,” with Paul Newman and Robert Redford.

By then, Durning had accumulated a lifetime of real-world experience. He had held dozens of menial jobs and, while serving as an Army infantryman, was among the first soldiers to land on the Normandy beaches during the D-Day invasion of June 6, 1944.

He was wounded in battle three times, captured by Nazi troops and escaped the most deadly massacre of U.S. prisoners during the war. He later helped liberate the Buchenwald concentration camp.

It took years for Durning to recover from his physical and psychological wounds.

“It’s your mind that’s hard to heal,” he told The Washington Post in 1994. “There are many horrifying secrets in the depths of our souls that we don’t want anyone to know about.”

After keeping silent about his wartime experiences for decades, Durning appeared several times at Memorial Day observances at the Capitol in Washington and Arlington National Cemetery.

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