Urich in 1973
|Born||Robert Michael Urich
December 19, 1946
Toronto, Ohio, U.S.
|Died||April 16, 2002
Thousand Oaks, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Synovial cell sarcoma|
|Resting place||Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada|
|Other names||Bob Urich
|Alma mater||Florida State University
Michigan State University
|Spouse(s)||Barbara Rucker (m. 1968–74)
Heather Menzies (m. 1975–2002)
Robert Michael Urich (December 19, 1946 – April 16, 2002) was an American film, television and stage actor and television producer. Over the course of his 30-year career, he starred in a record 15 television series.
Urich began his career in television in the early 1970s. After guest stints and roles in short-lived television series, he won a costarring role in the action/crime drama series S.W.A.T. in 1975. In 1976, he landed the role of Dan Tanna in the crime drama series Vega$. It aired on ABC from 1978 to 1981, and earned him two Golden Globe Award nominations. In addition to his work in television, he also starred in several feature films, including Magnum Force (1973), The Ice Pirates (1984), and Turk 182 (1985). From 1985 to 1988, he portrayed the title role in the detective television series Spenser: For Hire, based on Robert B. Parker's popular series of mystery novels. In 1988, he began hosting the documentary series National Geographic Explorer. He won a CableACE Award for his work on the series. He was also awarded a Golden Boot Award for his work in Western television series and films.
In 1996, Urich starred in the The Lazarus Man. It was canceled shortly after he announced that he was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma, a rare cancer, in July 1996. He sought treatment for his illness while continuing his career and also worked to raise money for cancer research. He was declared cancer free in 1998 and returned to television in the UPN series, The Love Boat: The Next Wave. In 2000, he made his Broadway debut as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago.
Urich attended Florida State University on a football scholarship, and was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. In 1968, he earned a bachelor's degree in Radio and Television Communications. He went on to Michigan State University after working in Ohio to earn a master's degree in Broadcast Research and Management. He then worked as a salesman in Chicago at WGN-TV. He later worked as a weatherman.
Urich made his television debut in a guest starring role in The F.B.I., in 1972. The following year, he won a lead role in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. It was an adaptation of the 1969 film of the same name. It struggled in the ratings and was canceled after six episodes. He made his film debut later that same year opposite Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry film Magnum Force playing a vigilante motorcycle-patrol police officer.
In 1975, Urich was cast in the action/crime drama series S.W.A.T.. According to the executive producer Aaron Spelling, Burt Reynolds convinced Spelling to allow Urich to read for the part. Spelling was impressed with his reading and cast him in the role of "Officer Jim Street". A mid-season replacement, it earned high enough ratings to warrant a second season. However, it was canceled in 1976 due to its violent content.
Urich's next role was on the sitcom Soap as Peter the Tennis Player in 1977. That same year he was cast as Paul Thurston, a good-looking, ego driven talk show host in the Bewitched spin-off series Tabitha, starring Lisa Hartman. Its rating were initially strong, but schedule changes caused ratings to drop and it was canceled in 1978 after 13 episodes. Shortly after, he was cast in another Aaron Spelling produced series Vega$. He portrayed the series' lead character, Dan Tanna, a private detective who solves crimes in Las Vegas. It was a hit for ABC and he received two Golden Globe Award nominations for his work on it. By the third season, however, he had grown tired of the role and complained about the declining quality of the writing. Ratings had also declined and it was canceled in 1981. Shortly after, he signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and decided to focus on his film career. His first film for them was Endangered Species (1982), a science fiction one directed by Alan Rudolph.
Shortly after filming Endangered Species, Urich signed on to star in another series Gavilan. He starred as the title character who was a former CIA agent turned oceanographer. It was canceled after seven episodes. In 1984, he starred in two more films The Ice Pirates, and Wes Craven's Invitation to Hell. The following year, Urich co-starred in Turk 182. It was a box office failure and he was nominated for Golden Raspberry Award.
In 1985, Urich returned to episodic television as the title character in Spenser: For Hire. It was another hit for Urich and aired for three seasons. He reprised the role in several television films after it was canceled: Spenser: Ceremony (1993), Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes (1994), Spenser: The Judas Goat (1994), and Spenser: A Savage Place (1995). In 1988, he began hosting the documentary series National Geographic Explorer. He won a CableACE Award for his work on the series. In 1989, he portrayed Jake Spoon, in the acclaimed television miniseries Lonesome Dove, a role for which he received many positive reviews.
In the 1990s, Urich mainly appeared in television films and several short-lived television series. From 1990 to 1991, he starred in the sitcom American Dreamer. The following year, he starred in Crossroads, a drama series that aired on ABC for ten episodes. In 1993, he and Faye Dunaway starred in the sitcom It Had to Be You. It was critically panned and canceled after four episodes. In 1995, he narrated an extremely rare one-night showing of a Disney television documentary called "Alien Encounters: From New Tomorrowland". It has never been shown again. In 1996, he starred in the TNT western series The Lazarus Man. It earned strong enough ratings to be picked up for a second season but shortly after it was renewed, he announced he had been diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma. Its production company, Castle Rock Entertainment, opted to cancel it due to that. In 1999, he commented on their choice to do so, "There's really a law against what they did. They found out I had cancer, and they just canceled the show. They didn't ask the doctors if I could work. They didn't ask if I could go back to work." In 2000, he sued them for breach of contract. The lawsuit was later settled with both parties agreeing not to publicly disclose the terms of the settlement.
While undergoing cancer treatments, Urich hosted the medical documentary series Vital Signs in 1997 and the PBS series Boatworks. After a year of treatment, he was declared cancer-free and returned to television in 1998 as Captain Jim Kennedy III in The Love Boat: The Next Wave. It aired on UPN for two seasons. In 2000, he made his Broadway debut as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago. and also was in the North American tour of the musical, in 1999 and in 2000. The next year, he costarred in Emeril, a sitcom starring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. While it was critically panned, he received good notices for his work on it. It would be his last role in a television series.
Marriages and children
Urich's first marriage was to actress Barbara Rucker in 1968. They divorced in 1974. He married actress Heather Menzies in 1975. They adopted three children, Ryan, Emily, and Allison. They remained married until his death in 2002.
Illness and death
In July 1996, Urich announced he had been diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that attacks soft tissue. He continued working while undergoing treatment for his illness and also became an advocate for finding a cure for cancer. He won an award from the John Wayne Cancer Institute and the Gilda Radner Courage Award for his work raising cancer awareness. He and Menzies also founded the Urich Fund for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center to raise funds for cancer research. He also donated the $125,000 he won when he appeared on an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He was declared cancer free in 1998. That same year, he was named the national spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.
In November 2001, Urich revealed in an interview that his doctors had discovered lumps in his body but "a wonder drug had cleared them up". The week before his death, he was hospitalized at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center in Thousand Oaks for breathing problems. He died there on April 16, 2002. His funeral mass was offered on April 19 at St. Charles Borromeo Church in North Hollywood. He was cremated and his ashes were buried on the grounds of his family's vacation home in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada.
Before his death, Urich and Menzies established the Robert and Heather Urich Fund for Sarcoma Research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center. She has also battled cancer and is an ovarian cancer survivor. Menzies continues to work for the center.
Before his death, Urich and Menzies helped to raise money for the Eccles Performing Arts Centers at the Park City High School in Park City, UT. After his death, the school established the Robert Urich Scholarship fund in his honor.
For his contribution to the television industry, Urich has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 7083 Hollywood Blvd. He is the only person with a surname starting with the letter U on there.
|1973||Magnum Force||Mike Grimes|
|1982||Endangered Species||Ruben Castle|
|1984||The Ice Pirates||Jason|
|1984||Invitation to Hell||Matt Winslow|
|1985||Turk 182||Terry Lynch|
|1988||April Morning||Joseph||Credit at beginning only|
|1989||Dragon Fight||Airport police|
|1992||Jock: A True Tale of Friendship||Rocky||Alternative title: Jock of the Bushveld|
|1995||Young Again||Michael Riley, Age 40|
|1996||The Angel of Pennsylvania Avenue||Angus Feagan|
|1972||The F.B.I.||Davie Stroud||Episode: "The Runner"|
|1973||Kung Fu||Greg Dundee||Episode: "Blood Brother"|
|1973||Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||Episode: "A Girl Named Tham"|
|1973||Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice||Bob Sanders||12 episodes|
|1973||Marcus Welby, M.D.||Mike Lowry||Episode: "Death Is Only a Side Effect"|
|1974||Killdozer!||Mack McCarthy||Television film|
|1974||Nakia||Episode: "A Beginning in the Wilderness"|
|1975||The Specialists||Dr. William Nugent||Television film
Credited as Robert York
|1975||Gunsmoke||Manolo Etchahoun||Episode: "Manolo"|
|1975-1976||S.W.A.T.||Officer Jim Street||37 episodes|
|1977||Soap||Peter the Tennis Player||8 episodes|
|1977-1978||Tabitha||Paul Thurston||12 episodes|
|1977-1978||The Love Boat||Various roles||3 episodes|
|1978||Charlie's Angels||Dan Tanna||Episode: "Angels in Vegas"|
|1978-1981||Vega$||Dan Tanna||69 episodes|
|1979||When She Was Bad...||Bob Morgan||Television film|
|1980||The Shadow Box||Television film
|1980||Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story||Rocky Bleier||Television film|
|1980||Killing at Hell's Gate||Charles Duke||Television film|
|1982||The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour||Episode #1.2|
|1982||Take Your Best Shot||Jess Marriner||Television film|
|1982-1983||Gavilan||Robert Gavilan||7 episodes|
|1983||Princess Daisy||Patrick Shannon||TV miniseries|
|1984||Mistral's Daughter||Jason Darcy||TV miniseries|
|1984||His Mistress||Allen Beck||Television film|
|1985||Scandal Sheet||Ben Rowan||Television film|
|1985-1988||Spenser: For Hire||Spenser||65 episodes|
|1986||The Defiant Ones||Johnny "Joker" Johnson||Television film|
|1986||The Disney Sunday Movie||Michael Riley, Age 40||Episode: "Young Again"|
|1988||Hallmark Hall of Fame||Joseph Simmons||Episode: "April Morning"|
|1989||The Comeback||Scotty Malloy||Television film|
|1989||She Knows Too Much||Harry||Television film|
|1989||Lonesome Dove||Jake Spoon||Miniseries|
|1989||Night Walk||Simon||Television film|
|1989||Spooner||Harry Spooner/Michael Norlon||Television film|
|1990||Blind Faith||Rob Marshall||Television miniseries|
|1990||A Quiet Little Neighborhood, a Perfect Little Murder||Ross Pegler||Television film|
|1990||83 Hours 'Til Dawn||Bradley Burdock||Television film|
|1990||Carol & Company||Mr. Carmen||Episode: "Teacher, Teacher"|
|1990-1991||American Dreamer||Tom Nash||17 episodes|
|1991||Stranger at My Door||Joe Fortier||Television film|
|1991||...And Then She Was Gone||Jack Bauer||Television film|
|1992||Survive the Savage Sea||Jack Carpenter||Television film|
|1992||Blind Man's Bluff||Thomas Booker||Television film|
|1992||Double Edge||Harry Carter||Television film
Alternative title: Hit Woman
|1992||Revolver||Nick Suster||Television film|
|1992-1993||Crossroads||Johnny Hawkins||9 episodes|
|1993||Evening Shade||Steve||Episode: "Frieda and the Preacher"|
|1993||Deadly Relations||Leonard J. Fagot||Television film|
|1993||Spenser: Ceremony||Spenser||Television film|
|1993||It Had to Be You||Mitch Quinn||6 episodes|
|1994||Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes||Spenser||Television film|
|1994||To Save the Children||Jake Downey||Television film|
|1994||A Perfect Stranger||Alex Hale||Television film|
|1994||Spenser: The Judas Goat||Spenser||Television film|
|1995||Alien Encounters: From New Tomorrowland||Narrator||Disney Television documentary|
|1995||Spenser: A Savage Place||Spenser||Television film|
|1995||A Horse for Danny||Eddie Fortuna||Television film|
|1995||She Stood Alone: The Tailhook Scandal||Adm. Williams||Television film|
|1996||Captains Courageous||Capt. Matthew Troop||Television film|
|1996||The Lazarus Man||Lazarus (James Cathcart)||20 episodes|
|1997||The Nanny||Judge Jerry Moran||Episode: "Samson, He Denied Her"|
|1997||Final Descent||Capt. Glen (Lucky) Singer||Television film|
|1998||Invasion America||Briggs||Unknown episodes|
|1998-1999||The Love Boat: The Next Wave||Captain Jim Kennedy III||25 episodes|
|1999||Final Run||Glen "Lucky" Singer||Television film|
|1999||Miracle on the 17th Green||Mitch McKinley||Television film|
|2001||Late Boomers||Dennis||Television film|
|2001||For Love of Olivia||Horton Roundtree||Television film|
|2001||Emeril||Jerry McKenney||10 episodes|
|2002||The President's Man: A Line in the Sand||President Adam Mayfield||Television film|
|2002||Night of the Wolf||Purly Owens||Television film|
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- O'Haire, Patricia. "'Chicago' Is Urich's Kind Of Show" New York Daily News, January 11, 2000
- Jones, Kenneth. "Lewis, Urich and Visitor are New Trio in 'Chicago' Tour, in Detroit, Nov. 16–28" playbill.com, November 16, 1999
- Dillard, Sandra C. "ALL JAZZED UP Robert Urich is keen on dancing in 'Chicago'", The Denver PostOctober 17, 1999, p. H1
- Jones, Kenneth. New Tour of Chicago Begins Oct. 6–7 in CT; Chita Will Join Troupe" playbill.com, October 5, 2000
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- "2015 honorees variety.com". http://variety.com/. Retrieved January 8, 2015. External link in
- "LA Times List". http://projects.latimes.com/. Retrieved January 8, 2015. External link in
- List of stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame#U