Kip Niven discovered a passion for acting in college and after graduating from the drama department at the University of Kansas, he embarked on a successful stage career. He landed several minor TV parts in the early '70s before landing a breakout role as a rookie traffic cop in "Magnum Force"; the suspense film was the sequel to the surprise hit, "Dirty Harry," which starred Clint Eastwood as a reckless San Francisco police detective on the trail of a sadistic serial killer. The film's success led to bigger roles for the still unknown Niven. He portrayed a kindly doctor on the long-running medical drama, "Marcus Welby, M.D., and appeared in a pivotal role as a prescient geologist in "Earthquake," the 1974 epic disaster film. A few years later, he returned to the disaster genre with a role in the TV movie, "A Fire in the Sky," about an enormous comet that crash lands on Earth. From 1979 to 1981, he portrayed confirmed bachelor Reverend Tom Marshall on the nostalgic family drama, "The Waltons," and later reprised the character in several TV movies. After a rare starring role in the gory horror film, "New Year's Evil," about an L.A. punk rock singer targeted by a deranged killer, Niven landed a major role on the primetime sitcom, "Alice," about a widow who begins a new life while working at a diner. On-screen, he portrayed country singer Travis Marsh, Alice's (Linda Lavin) boyfriend; in real-life, they were married for several years.