Family & Companions
Through patience, determination and talent, actor Rick Schroder defied the odds by successfully making the transition from beloved child star to respected adult performer. After plucking the heartstrings of America opposite Jon Voight in the boxing melodrama "The Champ" (1979), the tow-headed tyke cemented his place in pop culture as the endearing Ricky Stratton on the television sitcom "Silver Spoons" (NBC, 1982-87). In the case of a blessing becoming a curse, a young Schroder found himself in danger of not being allowed to move beyond his adorable roots, finding his career stalled like all too many child stars on the cusp of adulthood. That is until he more than held his own alongside the likes of Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones in the acclaimed Western miniseries "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989). A small turn in the blockbuster "Crimson Tide" (1995) further established his adult actor bona fides prior to landing the co-lead on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) during its sixth season. After his stint on the Steven Bochco drama, the actor ventured behind the camera to write and direct the drama "Black Cloud" (2004). Now fully accepted as a romantic lead or a man of action, Schroder continued to be seen as such on programs like "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06) and "24" (Fox, 2001-2010). Although the days of "The Champ" and little Ricky Stratton were far behind him, as an actor, writer and director, Schroder more than proved as mettle as an appealing leading man of the small screen.
Richard "Rick" Schroder was born on April 13, 1970 in Staten Island, NY, to a showbiz family headed by father Richard and mother Diane Schroder. While his sister Dawn would go on to model and appear on shows like "The Facts of Life" (NBC, 1979-1988), Ricky's parents sensed that their son possessed a true gift that needed to be nurtured to flourish. Rarely seen in actors of any age, his instinctive, natural acting ability was especially rare among child stars, who most often substituted preciousness for craft. At the age of nine, Schroder made his feature film debut in "The Champ" (1979) - a remake of a 1931 film about a washed up and alcoholic boxer who attempts to get his act together for his young son, only to lose his life after a brutal last battle in the ring. Hollywood heavyweights Jon Voight and Faye Dunaway starred alongside the young novice, who stole the movie out from under the seasoned pros with every scene. Schroder's tear-jerking performance won the youngster a Golden Globe for Best New Male Star that year. For years to come, his performance in "The Champ" would be considered the gold standard for any child actor, particularly his tearful pleas for his father to wake.
Schroder was quickly cast opposite several of film's most respected actors in a slew of projects. He appeared alongside Elliot Gould in the Disney film "The Last Flight of Noah's Ark" (1980), then traveled to the Australian Outback with William Holden for the adventure "The Earthling" (1980), followed by the lead role opposite Alec Guinness in an adaptation of "Little Lord Fauntleroy" (CBS, 1980). He played Patty Duke's son in the TV-movie "Something So Right" (CBS, 1982) prior to landing his second iconic role on the beloved family sitcom, "Silver Spoons" (NBC, 1982-87). For five seasons, Schroder starred as Ricky Stratton, the earnest son of multi-millionaire man-child Edward Stratton III (Joel Higgins). Schroder was so popular for his role on "Silver Spoons," that even as a preteen, he was a constant presence on the covers of teeny bopper magazines like Tiger Beat and 16.
When "Silver Spoons" ended in 1987, Schroder remained on television via movies like "Too Young the Hero" (CBS, 1988), "Terror on Highway 91" (CBS, 1989), and "Out on the Edge" (1989). But despite his efforts to transition into what he saw as the next phase of his career, the "Silver Spoons" role had typecast Schroder, who was still seen by many as that adorable blond rich kid who rode a toy train through his living room. Although aging child stars rarely moved on to adult success, Schroder continued to hone his craft and looked for a part that would make Ricky Stratton a distant memory in the minds of viewers. To a large degree, that role arrived with the character of Newt Dobbs in the epic western miniseries, "Lonesome Dove" (CBS, 1989). Cast alongside acclaimed actors like Robert Duvall, Tommy Lee Jones and Anjelica Houston, the now-adult actor proved he could still hold his own onscreen. A critical and ratings success, the miniseries spawned a sequel, "Return to Lonesome Dove" (CBC, 1993), in which Schroder reprised his career-reviving role.
Still looking to distance himself from the child star persona, Schroder chose to drop the "Y" from his first name and began crediting himself as Rick Schroder. In the touching true story "A Son's Promise" (ABC, 1990), he played Terry, a teen who promised his dying mother that he would look after his six younger brothers. In "The Stranger Within" (CBS, 1990), Schroder took on a mysterious role opposite "Charlie's Angels" (ABC, 1976-1981) star Kate Jackson. He later returned to the big screen with a small role in the big-budget action film "Crimson Tide" (1995), playing Paul Hellerman alongside a laundry list of Hollywood heroes, including Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. While the roles highlighted his acting range, there were still those who failed to appreciate Schroder's substantial maturation as a performer.
All that changed in 1998 when Schroder was cast as Det. Andy Sipowicz's (Dennis Franz) new partner, Det. Danny Sorenson, on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) following the tragic demise of Jimmy Smits character, Det. Bobby Simone, at the end of the previous season. The high-profile role gave Schroder the opportunity he had sought for so many years - to transition from child star to serious actor. Not only did he impress with his deft acting skills and believable Bronx accent, he became something of a hunk on the show, with women lusting after him as they had his predecessors, David Caruso and Smits. The stable ratings also proved that casting Schroder had been a smart investment. His interaction with Franz was particularly endearing, as the hothead rookie who clashed with the curmudgeonly veteran, Sipowicz. Having earned the comeback he desired, Schroder remained with the show until 2001, before venturing on to independent film projects, like "Poolhall Junkies" (2002) and "Face of "Terror" (2003).
Schroder returned to both television and comedy in 2003 when he joined the cast of "Scrubs" (NBC, 2001-2010) for a four episode-arc as resident hunk, Nurse Paul Flowers. The versatile actor branched out even further when he wrote, directed and appeared in "Black Cloud" (2004), an inspirational drama about a Navajo Native American boxer. He also directed and starred in the music video for country singer Brad Paisley's song, "Whiskey Lullaby" - a move that resulted in Schroder winning a Country Music Television Award in 2005 for his participation. Amid his busy working schedule, Schroder still made time for a satisfying personal life. He and his wife Andrea built and designed a 15,000-acre ranch in Colorado in 1998, upon which they raised their growing family. They would go on to sell that property and return to Southern California, but for many years, it provided Schroder with a grounding reality he had yearned for after so many years working inside the Hollywood bubble.
Schroder landed his next notable role on the medical drama, "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06). Playing Dr. Dylan West throughout the 2005-06 season, he once again found himself an object of desire among the show's predominantly female demographic. The actor soon picked up another recurring role on one of the new millennium's hottest television action-adventure series, "24" (Fox, 2001-2010) in early 2007. Portraying CTU Operative Mike Doyle, Schroder teamed up with Kiefer Sutherland's iconic hero, Jack Bauer for another thrilling, action-packed season. Despite initially butting heads with Sutherland's mercurial character, Doyle proved himself a stalwart agent before being taken out of the action during a botched sting operation. It was around this time that Schroder reverted back to Ricky being his professional name, later claiming "Rick" never took and people still called him "Ricky" anyway.
The following year Schroder took on starring roles in a pair of genre adventures. First came a turn as a professor in search of a missing explorer (Peter Fonda) in yet another adaptation of Jules Verne's classic subterranean adventure, "Journey to the Center of the Earth" (ION, 2008). Next, he joined Benjamin Bratt, Andre Braugher and Viola Davis to play members of a scientific team desperately trying to unlock the secret of a deadly disease of extraterrestrial origin in the miniseries "The Andromeda Strain" (A&E, 2008), a second adaptation of the science-fiction novel by Michael Crichton. Schroder finished out the decade with a turn as a well-intentioned man of the cloth in the ensemble race-relations drama "Blood Done Sign My Name" (2010) and a small cameo as himself in the rock-n-roll comedy "Get Him to the Greek" (2010). A starring role came the following year when he played a former pro wrestler trying to keep the family's struggling wrestling school afloat in "To the Mat" (CMT, 2011), prior to saddling up with Luke Perry for the Western "Goodnight for Justice: The Measure of a Man" (Hallmark, 2012).
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Delivered memorable debut performance as Jon Voight's son in the remake of "The Champ"
Cast in the Walt Disney feature "The Last Flight of Noah's Ark" with Elliott Gould
Played the title character in "Little Lord Fauntleroy" alongside Alec Guinness
Landed breakout television role as the star of the popular NBC sitcom "Silver Spoons"
Cast in first starring role in a TV-movie "Something so Right" (CBS)
Co-starred in the CBS mini-series Larry McMurtry's "Lonesome Dove"
Played Brad Pitt's older brother in the film "Across the Tracks"
Reprised role for the sequel "Return to Lonesome Dove" (CBS)
Co-starred in Tony Scott's "Crimson Tide"
Joined the sixth season of ABC's "NYPD Blue" as Det. Danny Sorenson, a cop with a troubled past
Portrayed a WWI soldier in A&E's "The Lost Battalion"
Appeared in several episodes of the NBC comedy series "Scrubs" as nurse Paul Flowers
Co-starred in the feature "Poolhall Junkies"
Directed (also starred) the music video for "Whiskey Lullaby" by Brad Paisley & Alison Krauss; won the Country Music Association Music Video of the Year
Joined the final season of Lifetime's "Strong Medicine"
Made his directorial debut with the independently financed boxing drama "Black Cloud"
Joined the sixth season of Fox's "24" in the recurring role of CTU agent Mike Doyle
Cast in the A&E original mini-series "The Andromeda Strain"
Guest starred on the ABC action comedy series "No Ordinary Family"
Co-starred with Laura Bell Bundy in the CMT TV-movie "To the Mat"