Robert Urich Biography

(Actor and Producer)

Birthday: December 19, 1946 (Sagittarius)

Born In: Toronto, Ohio, United States

Robert Michael Urich was an American TV, film, and stage actor and TV producer. His rich body of work as an actor, encompassing almost three decades, consists of many notable films, TV series, and TV films, including a record of starring in 15 TV series. He worked as a salesman at ‘WGN-TV’ in Chicago, and thereafter, as a weatherman, before developing a keen interest in acting and featuring in a stage production of ‘The Rainmaker.’ Resolving to make a career in show business, he made his TV debut in 1972, with a guest role in the series ‘The F.B.I.’ and in films, the following year, with a starring role in ‘Magnum Force.’ He then garnered a titular role in the sitcom series ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice’ and a starring role in the action/crime-drama series ‘S.W.A.T.’ However, the most memorable role of his career that gave him widespread popularity was that of ‘Dan Tanna’ in the series ‘Vega$.’ The role earned him two ‘Golden Globe Award’ nominations. He made his ‘Broadway’ debut with the musical ‘Chicago’ in 2000. Other notable works of Urich include films such as ‘The Ice Pirates’ and TV series such as ‘Spenser: For Hire’ and ‘The Lazarus Man’. He died at 55, after battling synovial sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Robert Michael Urich

Died At Age: 55


Spouse/Ex-: Heather Menzies (m. 1975), Barbara Rucker (m. 1968–1974)

father: John Paul

mother: Cecilia Monica Urich

children: Allison Grady Urich, Emily Urich, Ryan Urich

Actors American Men

Height: 6'2" (188 cm), 6'2" Males

Died on: April 16, 2002

place of death: Thousand Oaks, California, United States

Cause of Death: Synovial Sarcoma

U.S. State: Ohio

Ancestry: Slovak American

More Facts

education: Michigan State University, Florida State University

Childhood & Early Life
Robert was born on December 19, 1946, in Toronto, Ohio, US, to John Paul and Cecilia Monica Urich. He belonged to a family of staunch Catholics.
He graduated from ‘Toronto High School’ in 1964. He earned a football scholarship as a “center” at the ‘Florida State University’ and became a member of the ‘Lambda Chi Alpha’ fraternity. He obtained his bachelors’ degree in Radio and Television Communications in 1968.
After working in Ohio for a while, he attended the ‘Michigan State University,’ from where he obtained his masters’ degree in Broadcast Research and Management in 1971. Thereafter, he had a stint in Chicago, working as a salesman at the independent TV station ‘WGN-TV.’ He also worked as a TV meteorologist for a brief while.
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He appeared in the stage production of the play ‘The Rainmaker,’ playing the younger brother of the character essayed by Burt Reynolds. It was Reynolds who motivated him to relocate to Los Angeles, following which he headed for Hollywood and resolved to take up acting as full-time profession.
He made his first TV appearance with the ‘ABC’ series ‘The F.B.I.’ He played the guest role of ‘Davie Stroud’ in the episode ‘The Runner,’ which aired on September 17, 1972.
His first lead role in a TV series came with the American sitcom ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,’ where he played ‘Bob Sanders,’ one of the titular characters. However, low ‘Nielsen’ ratings led to it getting canceled after seven of its 12 episodes were aired on ‘ABC,’ from September 26, 1973 to November 7, 1973.
His first lead role in a TV series came with the American sitcom ‘Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,’ where he played ‘Bob Sanders,’ one of the titular characters. However, low ‘Nielsen’ ratings led to it getting canceled after seven of its 12 episodes were aired on ‘ABC,’ from September 26, 1973 to November 7, 1973.
His next notable role was that of ‘Officer Jim Street’ in the American action/crime-drama series ‘S.W.A.T.’ He garnered the part after Burt Reynolds persuaded its executive producer, Aaron Spelling, to let him read the part. ‘S.W.A.T.’ aired on ‘ABC’ for 2 seasons, encompassing 37 episodes, from February 24, 1975 to April 3, 1976.
Moving on with other TV pursuits, including series such as ‘Soap’ (1977) and ‘Tabitha’ (1977–78), he landed up with yet another Aaron Spelling-produced series, ‘Vega$.’ He played the lead role of private detective ‘Dan Tanna’ in this American crime-drama series.
'Vega$’ was aired on ‘ABC’ for 3 seasons, encompassing 69 episodes, from April 25, 1978 to June 3, 1981. It became quite popular, furthering Urich’s fame and earning him two ‘Golden Globe Award’ nominations.
He then turned his focus to the big-screen and signed with ‘Metro–Goldwyn–Mayer,’ which led him to earn the starring role of ‘Ruben Castle’ in the science-fiction film ‘Endangered Species.’ The film was directed and co-written by Alan Rudolph and also had JoBeth Williams, Hoyt Axton, and Peter Coyote in starring roles. It released on September 10, 1982, and grossed US$ 1,474,249 at the box office.
This was followed by other starring roles. He appeared in the TV series ‘Gavilan’ (1982–1983), in the commercially hit comic science-fiction film ‘The Ice Pirates’ (1984), and in the American made-for-television supernatural horror ‘Invitation to Hell’ (1984).
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One of his most notable works was the titular role of ‘Spenser’ in the mystery series ‘Spenser: For Hire.’ The series aired on ‘ABC’ for three seasons, encompassing 66 episodes, from September 20, 1985, to May 7, 1988. It not only bolstered his thriving TV career but also saw him reprising the role in four made-for-TV movies, namely, ‘Spenser: Ceremony’ (1993), ‘Spenser: The Judas Goat’ (1994), ‘Spenser: Pale Kings and Princes’ (1994), and ‘Spenser: A Savage Place’ (1995).
Meanwhile, he had a stint as the host/narrator of the American documentary TV series ‘National Geographic Explorer’ from 1988 to 1995. This endeavor earned him the ‘CableACE Award.’
He garnered praise for his performance as ‘Jake Spoon,’ former Texas Ranger, in the ‘Emmy Award’-winning, critically acclaimed, popular Western TV miniseries ‘Lonesome Dove,’ which aired for four episodes on ‘CBS,’ from February 5, 1989, to February 8, 1989.
He played the lead role of ‘Tom Nash’ in the American TV sitcom ‘American Dreamer,’ which aired on ‘NBC’ for 17 episodes, from September 20, 1990, to June 22, 1991.
He earned the titular role of ‘Lazarus’ (James Cathcart) in the ‘Castle Rock Entertainment’-produced Western TV series ‘The Lazarus Man.’ The series aired on ‘TNT’ for one season, from January 20, 1996, to November 9, 1996.
The popularity of ‘The Lazarus Man’ raised hopes for a second-season run. However, the production company canceled the series after Urich was diagnosed with synovial cell sarcoma in July 1996. Speaking about this incident, Urich stated, "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."
He sued ‘Castle Rock Entertainment’ in 2000 for breach of contract. The two parties later settled the matter. However, the terms and conditions of the settlement were not publicly disclosed. He made his ‘Broadway’ debut that year, playing ‘Billy Flynn’ in the musical ‘Chicago’.
Some of his most notable works include TV series ‘Crossroads’ (1992–93), ‘Love Boat: The Next Wave’ (1998–99), and ‘Emeril’ (2001); and TV films ‘Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story’ (1980), ‘Scandal Sheet’ (1985), ‘Stranger at My Door’ (1991), ‘Deadly Relations’ (1993), and ‘Final Run’ (1999).
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Personal Life
He was married to actress Barbara Rucker from 1968 to 1974.

In 1975, he married Canadian–American model and actress Heather Menzies. The couple adopted three children, Ryan Urich (born 1979), Emily (born 1980), and Allison Grady (born 1998).
On December 12, 1995, he received a “star” on the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame,’ situated at 7083 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
He made a public announcement of being diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, in July 1996. He underwent radiation treatments, chemotherapy, and a couple of surgeries and was declared cancer free in 1998. That year, he became the national spokesperson for the ‘American Cancer Society.’
He worked in raising awareness for cancer and earned the ‘Gilda Radner Courage Award.’ He, along with Heather, established the ‘Robert and Heather Urich Fund for Sarcoma Research’ at the ‘University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.’
His cancer returned in the autumn of 2001. On April 16, 2002, he breathed his last at the ‘Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center’ in Thousand Oaks. He was cremated and his remains were interred on the grounds of his family vacation home in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
The ‘Robert Urich Scholarship’ fund was established in his honor by the ‘Eccles Performing Arts Center.’

Robert Urich Movies

1. Magnum Force (1973)

  (Thriller, Mystery, Crime, Action)

2. The Rodney Dangerfield Special: I Can't Take It No More (1983)


3. Endangered Species (1982)

  (Mystery, Thriller, Drama)

4. The Ice Pirates (1984)

  (Romance, Comedy, Sci-Fi, Action, Adventure)

5. Turk 182! (1985)

  (Drama, Comedy, Action)

See the events in life of Robert Urich in Chronological Order

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