Earlier this week, we lost George Segal, who died at the age of 87 from complications from bypass surgery.
One of the multi-talented actor’s most memorable roles, whose credits range from an Oscar-nominated performance in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? tor his final role on ABC The Goldbergs, was on the hit NBC comedy series Just shoot me! created by Steve Levitan. Segal played fashion magazine editor Frank Gallo on the show, which ran for seven seasons between 1997 and 2003. “It was seven happy years,” Segal said of his participation on the show during a June 2020 reunion.
This is what Levitan remembers about working with Segal on Just shoot me! which also starred David Spade, Laura San Giacomo, Wendie Malick and Enrico Colantoni, and what you will miss the most about him.
‘The Goldberg’ pays tribute to star George Segal
What I will miss the most is his laugh. There was simply nothing better than the laugh that came from George Segal’s heart. At the table read for Just shoot meWe had to keep a roll of paper towels close to George because inevitably some line (usually a fellow actor’s line) would make him laugh so hard that tears would roll down his face. He was loud, cheerful and generous, just like the man himself.
I first came to love George by seeing him with Johnny Carson at the Tonight’s show. I found his dynamics hilarious, the way Johnny always seemed a bit annoyed by George’s sideways or especially his banjo, and the way George seemed to give a damn. He kept grinning that devilish grin because George was having more fun than anyone.
We were all very honored and excited when you agreed to join the Just shoot me to emit. I was also nervous because here was an Oscar nominee and the star of some of my favorite movies. But sweet George came in, all smiles, full of stories (so many stories), happy as hell to be there.
George’s character in Just shoot me magazine editor Jack Gallo, had flaws. He had not been a great father, he was superficial, impatient and full of himself. But George infused her with tenderness, vulnerability, and charm. George was adorable, so Jack was adorable. That, for me, was his greatest gift.
When we cast David Spade to play Dennis Finch, Jack Gallo’s assistant, we were concerned that David and George would not get confused. George was old school, lively and sentimental, while David, fresh out SNLHe was sarcastic, dry and cautious. But the moment David nailed his first big joke to the table, George laughed out loud, grabbed a paper towel, and a wonderful friendship was born.
In fact, George was very close to everyone Just shoot me to emit; Laura, Wendie, Enrico and our house manager, Pam Fryman. (You can glimpse the love between everyone in a virtual meeting we all did last June: Google “Just shoot me Meeting”).
I think George had a happy third act. He loved working and was proud to be a part of Just shoot me Y The Goldbergs. Above all, at the end of his life, he married his high school sweetheart, Sonia, whom he always looked at as if he was still sixteen years old and in love.
So while we all feel quite lucky to be able to spend time with one of the greats, our friend George, it’s hard to accept that we will no longer hear that infectious, heartfelt laugh.
Today we are all going to get the paper towels.
– Steven Levitan
Creator, Just shoot me
Above (top) and bottom are photos of April 14, 2003, when a plaque on the Just shoot me! The soundstage was unveiled on CBS Radford. You can also see below the Just shoot me! 2020 reunion, a classic scene with Segal from the show’s first episode, and a clip from one of his memorable Johnny Carson appearances with the famous banjo.
RELATED: George Segal’s career: a photo gallery