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Robert Urich

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 19, 1946 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Toronto, Ohio, USA Profession: actor, publisher

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

The never-ruffled, ruggedly handsome tough-guy star of "Vega$" (ABC, 1978-81) and "Spencer: For Hire" (ABC, 1985-88), Robert Urich, who long played characters who were up to the task no matter how daunting, demonstrated the same resilience in his personal life, bouncing back no matter how many TV shows of his got canceled. His biggest challenge, however, came in 1996 when he learned he had a rare form of cancer, and he met the dreaded disease head-on, exhibiting the courage he'd always said he had with a power of positive energy and prayer approach that, coupled with medical technology, rid him of the scourge. Though the cancer cost him a second season of "The Lazarus Man" (TNT, 1996-97), his first show renewed since "Spencer", Urich remained upbeat about losing his favorite series (and first truly heroic) role, saying, "I think we could still be on the air, even with treatment, but maybe that is my destiny, to do something else. I'm still trying to find the full answer to what this has meant."After enjoying a standout career as an offensive lineman at Florida State University, Urich caught the acting bug while working as an account executive at WGN-Radio in Chicago. Dismissed by the station when his...

The never-ruffled, ruggedly handsome tough-guy star of "Vega$" (ABC, 1978-81) and "Spencer: For Hire" (ABC, 1985-88), Robert Urich, who long played characters who were up to the task no matter how daunting, demonstrated the same resilience in his personal life, bouncing back no matter how many TV shows of his got canceled. His biggest challenge, however, came in 1996 when he learned he had a rare form of cancer, and he met the dreaded disease head-on, exhibiting the courage he'd always said he had with a power of positive energy and prayer approach that, coupled with medical technology, rid him of the scourge. Though the cancer cost him a second season of "The Lazarus Man" (TNT, 1996-97), his first show renewed since "Spencer", Urich remained upbeat about losing his favorite series (and first truly heroic) role, saying, "I think we could still be on the air, even with treatment, but maybe that is my destiny, to do something else. I'm still trying to find the full answer to what this has meant."

After enjoying a standout career as an offensive lineman at Florida State University, Urich caught the acting bug while working as an account executive at WGN-Radio in Chicago. Dismissed by the station when his boss learned he was moonlighting, he performed professionally in the Chicago area before moving to Los Angeles and making his feature debut as one of the bad cops in Michael Cimino's "Magnum Force" (1973), starring Clint Eastwood. That same year he also made his small-screen debut as a series regular in "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (ABC), inspired by the 1969 feature film directed by Paul Mazursky. Though its run was brief, Urich had found his niche in TV, going on to co-star in "S.W.A.T." (ABC, 1975-76), play tennis pro Peter Campbell on ABC's "Soap" in 1977 and co-star in "Tabitha" (ABC, 1977-78) before scoring his first certifiable hit with "Vega$". After three years there and a short-lived starring turn as "Gavilan" (NBC, 1982-83), the planets lined up for him again, and he landed the title role in "Spencer: For Hire", based on the Robert B Parker detective novels.

In addition to starring in the features "Endangered Species" (1982), "The Ice Pirates" (1984) and "Turk 182!" (1985), Urich has had major roles in well over 30 miniseries and TV-movies, perhaps most notably in the Emmy-winning "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989), which established his Western persona and led to his casting as "The Lazarus Man". He also appeared in a final salute to the Cold War, the miniseries "Amerika" (ABC, 1987), and the true-crime drama "Blind Faith" (NBC, 1990), as well as co-starring opposite Faye Dunaway in the short-lived CBS sitcom "It Had to Be You" (1993). Urich hosted "National Geographic Explorer" on the Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) from 1991-1994, earning both an Emmy and a CableACE Award for his efforts. Following his bout with cancer, he hosted ABC's short-lived medical anthology "Vital Signs" and the 13-part PBS documentary series "Boatworks" (both 1997). He was back in the saddle as Captain of "The Love Boat: The Next Wave" (UPN, 1998-99), moving past Harry Morgan as the actor with the most regular series roles (12),

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 President's Man: A Line in the Sand, The (2002) President Adam Mayfield
2.
 For Love of Olivia (2001) Horton Roundtree
3.
 Miracle on the 17th Green (1999) Mitch Mckinley
4.
 Final Run (1999) Glen "Lucky" Singer
5.
 Final Descent (1997) Glen "Lucky" Singer
6.
 She Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal (1995) Rear Admiral Mac Williams
7.
 Spenser: A Savage Place (1995) Spenser
8.
 Horse For Danny, A (1995) Eddie Fortuna
9.
 Perfect Stranger, A (1994) Alex Hale
10.
 Spenser: A Judas Goat (1994) Spenser
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
While working as an account executive at WGN-Radio in Chicago, Illinois, a one-night acting job inadvertently set him on ultimate career path; hired to portray a young soldier and open the local Jewish United Bond drive with a stirring patriotic speech; uncovered a penchant for performing; his boss was in attendance and enforced the station's strict policy against moonlighting, resulting in his dismissal
:
Made stage debut in "Lovers and Other Strangers" at Pheasant Run Playhouse (community theater); appeared in Chicago production of "The Rainmaker", as well as numerous plays at Ivanhoe Theatre (Chicago) and Arlington Park Theatre (Illinois)
:
Caught the eye of a talent agent and moved to Los Angeles
1973:
TV debut in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"; played Bob
1973:
Feature acting debut in "Magnum Force"
1975:
Co-starred in the ABC police series "S.W.A.T."
1977:
Played recurring role of tennis instructor and gigolo Peter Campbell on the ABC sitcom "Soap"
:
Featured opposite Lisa Hartman in the short-lived sitcom "Tabitha" (ABC), a spin-off of "Bewitched"
:
Starred as Dan Tanna on the ABC series "Vega$"
1982:
Played the title character on the NBC series "Gavilan"
1985:
Acted with Timothy Hutton in Bob Clark's "Turk 182!"
:
Had title role of the Boston-based detective in "Spenser: For Hire" (ABC)
:
Played Tom Nash on the NBC sitcom "American Dreamer"
:
Served as host for "National Geographic Explorer" (TBS)
:
Returned to series TV in the hour-long "Crossroads" (ABC)
:
Formed the publishing house Beaver Dam Press, which focuses on outdoor books
1993:
Co-starred opposite Faye Dunaway on the short-lived sitcom, "It Had to Be You" (CBS)
1995:
Received star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 12
:
Returned to series TV as star of "The Lazarus Man" (TNT); also syndicated
1996:
Announced he was suffering from a rare form of cancer (synovial sarcoma) and would undergo chemotherapy; though producers cancelled "The Lazarus Man", Ralston Purina stuck by him as their spokesman for their Pure One dog food company; later underwent surgery as treatment for the cancer
1997:
Hosted the short-lived ABC reality-based series "Vital Signs"
1997:
Hosted 13-part PBS documentary series "Boatworks"
1998:
Received the Gilda Radner Courage Award (from Roswell Park Cancer Institute) in recognition of his successful battle with cancer
:
Returned to series work playing the captain of "The Love Boat: The Next Wave" (UPN)
1999:
Starred as Billy Flynn in the touring company of the stage musical "Chicago"
2001:
Briefly returned to series TV as co-star of the fall NBC sitcom "Emeril"; cancelled due to low ratings
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Florida State University: Tallahassee , Florida -
Florida State University: Tallahassee , Florida -
Michigan State University: East Lansing , Michigan -

Notes

Urich co-owns Computer Sentry Software, a Tennessee-based company which creates anti-theft computer software. He also publishes a series of outdoor books based on the writings of Nash Buckingham under the banner of his own Beaver Dam Press.

He received a Bravo Award (Germany) as Best Actor in 1980 for "Vega$".

"'Who wouldn't want this guy?', asks his new agent, ICM's Alan Berger. 'He's been in a couple of really big shows and he's just one of those guys Americans like to welcome into their homes.'" --From the LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 15 1993

The author of the books on which Urich's series, "Spenser: For Hire", was based, noted, "'I was looking for a big, athletic, not-dumb leading man, and if you want one on television and don't want Robert Urich, who are you going to get?', poses the books' author, Robert Parker. 'Was he exactly the Spenser I'd had in mind? No, Robert Mitchum probably would have been, but we're talking TV here.'" --From LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 15, 1993

And finally, the last word on the subject of Urich's durability on TV through many series and TV-movies (to the point where the LOS ANGELES TIMES called him the "Teflon Television Man"): "I just think my longevity has a lot to do with where I come from, a blue-collar town in Ohio, and how I was raised, to work hard and respect other folks. I know it sounds hokey but I think, ultimately, on television you can't hide who you are. It's why people are always coming up to me, not to talk about my shows but about their families, their pets. They obviously feel comfortable with me. As for why I keep getting opportunities, I think people in the industry understand that so many elements go into making a show succeed--or fail. It can be a time slot, chemistry between actors, even the mood of the country. Hey, most of Robert De Niro's movies haven't made money but people respect his ability." --LOS ANGELES TIMES, September 15, 1993

About his battle with cancer: "When that call came, it was terrifying. You want to fall apart. But I have always played these guys who are capable, and now I thought, 'Maybe it's time to prove that you are capable.' But those first few days--even though I always had a great prognosis--no doubt about it: It's scary."

"So my response was to go at it in a very business-like, professional manner. I needed a weekend to compose myself and put on my game face, my fighting face. But when the doctor said to me, 'When would you like to come in and start treatment?' I said, 'What time do you open?' He said, '6 a.m.' I said, 'I'll be there at 10 to six. I want to be the first one cured every day." --Robert Urich to LOS ANGELES TIMES, February 27, 1997

In addition to the Gilda Radner Courage Award, he has received the John Wayne Cancer Institute's Three Tyler Award and continues to tour the country speaking with patients and families dealing with cancer.

One of the most approachable, down-to-earth people in show business, Robert Urich has an official website at www.roberturich.com

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Barbara Rucker. Actor. Divorced in 1974.
wife:
Heather Menzies. Actor. Worked together on "The Hasty Heart" at the Kennedy Center; born c. 1950; best known for her role as Louisa in "The Sound of Music"; posed for <i>Playboy</i> in August 1973; married in 1975.

Family close complete family listing

father:
John Urich. Steel worker.
mother:
Cecilia Urich.
son:
Ryan Urich. Born c. 1978; adopted.
daughter:
Emily Urich. Born c. 1980; adopted.
daughter:
Allison Grady Urich. Born on April 18, 1998; adopted.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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