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|Also Known As:||Richard D Masur||Died:|
|Born:||November 20, 1948||Cause of Death:|
|Birth Place:||New York City, New York, USA||Profession:||Cast ... actor director technical director (for theater companies)|
A familiar face to film and television fans for over three decades, Richard Masur was an Emmy- and Oscar-nominated character actor whose avuncular roles included turns on "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-78), "One Day at a Time" (CBS, 1975-1984) and "The Burning Bed" (NBC, 1984) as well as commanding parts in feature films like "Risky Business" (1983), "License to Drive (1988) and countless other projects. The former stage actor branched into directing in the late 1880s, but remained faithful to his craft throughout most of his career, which included two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild. His dependable and versatile talent made him a welcome presence on both the big and small screens and he never failed to elevate whatever project he was involved with.
Born in New York City on Nov. 20, 1948, Masur's father was a pharmacist, while his mother taught at a local high school. Initially, his career path was medicine, but he changed his major to theatre arts, which led to a scholarship at the Yale School of Drama followed by steady work on the stage. His Broadway debut came in 1973 with "The Changing Room;" producer Norman Lear saw his performance and was suitably impressed to offer him a guest spot on "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79). His turn as a mentally handicapped stockboy on the 1974 episode "Gloria's Boyfriend" spurred Masur to move to Los Angeles; within a year's time, he had racked up appearances on "M*A*S*H" (CBS, 1972-1983), "The Waltons" (CBS, 1972-1981) and his first series, "The Hot L Baltimore" (ABC, 1975), produced by Lear and based on the Off-Broadway play of the same name. His feature debut came in the failed comedy "Whiffs" (1975), which reunited Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland from the theatrical version of "M*A*S*H" (1970).
Masur soon became a familiar presence in both features and on television. He was frequently cast as empathetic souls like Nick Lobo, deadpan accordionist and boyfriend to Brenda Morgenstern (Julie Kavner) on "Rhoda," Ann Romano's (Bonnie Franklin's) sympathetic boyfriend on "One Day at a Time," or Farrah Fawcett's public defender in the groundbreaking TV movie, "The Burning Bed" (1984), which earned him an Emmy nomination. But his versatility allowed him to play a wide range of roles - from the businesslike interviewer from Yale who visits new pimp-on-the-block Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" (1983) to the taciturn dog trainer in John Carpenter's "The Thing" (1982), to the hapless corporate vice-president who takes marching orders from his wife in the short-lived comedy series, "Empire" (CBS, 1984).
In 1986, Masur branched into directing with the short "Love Struck," which earned him an Oscar for Best Live Action Short. His debut foray into television directing - "Torn Between Two Fathers" (1989), an episode of the "ABC Afterschool Special" series (ABC, 1972-2005) - earned him a Directors Guild of America nomination. Episodes of "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1986-1993) followed, but Masur concentrated his singular focus on continuing his acting career. Among his more memorable appearances during this fruitful period of the late 1980s were as Corey Haim's beleaguered dad in "License to Drive" (1988), Dan Aykroyd's surly brother in "My Girl" (1990), one of a string of town mayors on the critically acclaimed drama series, "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96) who happen to gets memorably frozen alive, and a fugitive on the run in several episodes of "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994).
Spurred by a friend's suggestion and the abiding concern that he wanted to give back to an organization that had done so much for his career, Masur served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1995-99. In 1989, he ran for a seat on the Guild board and won; two years later he captured back-to-back tenures as 3rd Vice-President. Masur took the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild in 1995 and served two terms as its leader, with his key agenda being a merger with SAG and the American Federation of Television Radio and Artists (AFTRA). While the latter was rejected by members after a referendum vote in 1999, Masur did work on several significant committees; most notably the National Health Plan Ad Hoc Committee, where he served as national chair for six years. In 1999, Masur ran for a third term as president, but was unseated by actor William Daniels. He was the third incumbent president in SAG history to be defeated by a challenger.
His bureaucratic work done, Masur returned to a regular slate of guest appearances in films and on television after completing his stint as SAG president. He played celebrated sports columnist Milt Kahn in "61*" (2001), Billy Crystal's HBO drama about Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and appeared as the ineffectual father of Aviva, the misguided central figure in Todd Solondz's "Palindromes" (2004). Television provided him with regular work, which included recurring guest appearances on "The Practice" (ABC, 1996-2004) and "All My Children" (ABC, 1970- ).
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