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
TV debut in the short-lived ABC sitcom "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"; played Bob
Feature acting debut in "Magnum Force"
Co-starred in the ABC police series "S.W.A.T."
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$"
Played the title character on the NBC series "Gavilan"
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
Co-starred opposite Faye Dunaway on the short-lived sitcom, "It Had to Be You" (CBS)
Received star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on December 12
Returned to series TV as star of "The Lazarus Man" (TNT); also syndicated
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
Hosted the short-lived ABC reality-based series "Vital Signs"
Hosted 13-part PBS documentary series "Boatworks"
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)
Starred as Billy Flynn in the touring company of the stage musical "Chicago"
Briefly returned to series TV as co-star of the fall NBC sitcom "Emeril"; cancelled due to low ratings