"It just didn't seem real because he just kept fighting through 2020, and 2020 was not fun for anybody, but he just kept overcoming things," said McLendon-Covey, 51. "There were huge fires near his house, he got through that. One of his caregivers got COVID, he got through that. His wife was very ill and he nursed her through that."
"We would fly him out and just film all his scenes really quickly in a couple of days so we wouldn't have to stay in town and go back to Santa Rosa where he lived. And it was like, 'Oh, he had a heart thing, he had to go in for open-heart surgery,' but the next day he was gone. It just didn't seem possible," she added.
McLendon-Covey said that the cast learned of Segal's passing while they were filming a scene together.
"It was a scene where Hailey and Jeff get engaged, and we were all at the beach," she recalled. "And if we had to find out like that, it's good that we were all together and at the beach where we could just sort of, like, breathe and take it all in. But what a loss."
Segal's wife, Sonia Segal, confirmed the Oscar-nominated actor's death to PEOPLE in March. He died of complications from a bypass surgery. He was 87.
"All I can say about that is the news was devastating. We did not find out, he passed two days before we stopped filming season 8. So, you know, there were quite a few fans who were saying, 'I can't believe you didn't do a tribute to George Segal yet,'" McLendon-Covey told Entertainment Tonight. "It's all been in the can. We finished filming and this was not the thing that we thought was gonna happen at the end of the season."
Segal played Albert 'Pops' Solomon on The Goldbergs. For its ninth season return Wednesday, the long-running ABC sitcom included a tribute to the late actor and his character.
"It is also a movie tribute because that's what we do our first episode of every season," McLendon-Covey said. "So this is an homage to Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and we go on our own excellent adventure, trying to figure out where Pops would have wanted his ashes spread."
She continued, "So it manages to be funny and heartwarming and tear-jerking, but it's a tribute to the character of Pops, what a beautiful man George Segal was. And we will never stop mentioning him."
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Segal's decades-long career featured a diverse array of credits. He is best known for his film roles including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Fun with Dick and Jane, Look Who's Talking, Blume in Love and A Touch of Class.
Additionally, Segal's abundance of TV roles included Just Shoot Me!, Murphy's Law and Retired at 35.