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Robert Urich (1946)

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Robert Urich (December 19, 1946 – April 16, 2002) was an American actor. He played the starring roles in the television series Vega$ (1978–1981) and Spenser: For Hire (1985–1988). He also appeared in other television series over the years including: Kung Fu , S.W.A.T. , Soap , and The Lazarus Man , as well as in several feature films including Turk 182!, The Ice Pirates, and Magnum Force. Urich died in 2002 in Thousand Oaks, California. The actor announced in 1996 that he was suffering from synovial cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks the body's joints, for which he underwent several treatments during the last years of his life.


 personal life
Urich was of Rusyn and Slovak extraction and raised Roman Catholic in the small town of Toronto, Ohio, where he is honored with the Robert Urich Interchange leading to State Route 7. Due to the similarity in names with Toronto, Ontario, many sources list him incorrectly as being a Canadian. His second wife, actress Heather Menzies, actually is a Canadian from the latter city.

Urich attended Florida State University on a football scholarship. In 1968, he earned a bachelor's degree in Radio and Television Communications. While attending, he joined Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity. He went on to Michigan State University after working in Ohio to earn a master's degree in Broadcast Research and Management.

Urich was first married to actress Barbara Rucker (1968–74). He married actress Heather Menzies in 1975, and they remained married until his death in 2002. Menzies played one of the von Trapp children, "Louisa," in the film version of The Sound of Music. Urich and Menzies adopted three children, Ryan, Emily and Allison.

In 1996, Urich announced that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, synovial sarcoma, that arises in soft tissues. The TV series he was working on at the time, The Lazarus Man, was ultimately canceled, his failing health cited by him as the reason. He continued to appear in film and TV during treatment. Urich ultimately died from the disease on April 16, 2002 at the age of 55.

Menzies also battled cancer, and is an ovarian cancer survivor. She works with the Robert and Heather Urich Fund for Sarcoma Research at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center.

 acting career
Between 1973 and his death in 2002, Urich had lead or supporting roles in 19 television series and miniseries . He also regularly hosted National Geographic TV specials and the National Geographic Explorer documentary series.
He was the guest host of Saturday Night Live in March 1982. Urich made a noteworthy screen appearance opposite Clint Eastwood in the 1973 Dirty Harry film Magnum Force playing a vigilante motorcycle-patrol police officer.

Urich was the spokesman for Bayer Aspirin in 1990 and Purina dog food in 2000. In 1992, Urich hosted the CBS TV special The Bat, the Cat, and the Penguin, which was a behind-the-scenes look of the upcoming motion picture Batman Returns. Most of his TV series were short-lived, although several, such as Vega$ and Spenser: For Hire, proved to be successes. In 1988 he made a cameo appearance as 'himself' in an episode of Cheers, which was Boston-based like his own series 'Spenser'. In the 1990s, Urich reprised the role of Spenser in several made-for-TV films. He also played a main character, "Jake Spoon," in the acclaimed television miniseries Lonesome Dove, a role for which he received many positive reviews, as well as the lead in a 1996 Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Captains Courageous. He hosted numerous 'made-for-TV' shorts with such titles as, "When Animals Attack...."

His final TV series role was in the sitcom Emeril, in 2001.

He also appeared on stage, in the musical Chicago. He played the role of Billy Flynn on Broadway in 2000, and also was in the North American tour of the musical, in 1999 and in 2000.

 Television series
  • Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice – as "Bob Sanders"
  • S.W.A.T. (1975–76) – as "Officer Jim Street"
  • Soap – as "Peter Campbell"
  • Tabitha (1976–77) – as "Paul Thurston"
  • Vega$ (1978–1981) – as "Dan Tanna" (he also played "Tanna" in an episode of Charlie's Angels)
  • Fighting Back: The Rocky Bleier Story – as "Rocky Bleier"
  • Gavilan – as "Robert Gavilan"
  • Princess Daisy (1983 mini-series) – as "Patrick Shannon"
  • Mistral's Daughter (1984 mini-series) – as "Jason Darcy"
  • National Geographic Explorer (1985–1995) – host
  • Amerika (1987 mini-series) – as "Peter Bradford"
  • Spenser: For Hire (1985–88, plus later TV movies) – as "Spenser"
  • The Defiant Ones – as "Johnny 'Joker' Johnson"
  • Cheers – one cameo appearance, as 'himself'
  • Lonesome Dove – as "Jake Spoon"
  • Blind Faith – as "Rob Marshall"
  • American Dreamer – as "Tom Nash"
  • Survive the Savage Sea – as "Jack Carpenter"
  • Crossroads – as "Johnny"
  • It Had to Be You – as "Mitch Quinn"
  • A Perfect Stranger – as "Alex Hale"
  • The Lazarus Man (1996–97) – as "Lazarus"
  • The Nanny – as "Judge Jerry Moran"
  • Vital Signs – host
  • Invasion America – as "Briggs"
  • The Love Boat: The Next Wave – as "Capt. Jim Kennedy"
  • Miracle on the 17th Green – as "Mitch McKinley"
  • Emeril – as "Jerry"

  • Endangered Species
  • ''The Ice Pirates
  • ''Turk 182!
  • ''Magnum Force
  • ''Killdozer
  • ''Spooner - 1989
  • ''Deadly Relations
  • ''Invitation to Hell
  • ''Angel of Pennsylvania Ave
  • ''Princess Daisy
  • ''Captains Courageous
  • Final Descent
  • A Horse for Danny
  • The President's Man 2 A Line in the Sand
  • A Long Way Home

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Robert Urich", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.