Robert Urich was a renowned American actor with an impressive career that spanned almost three decades. He featured in many notable movies, shows, and TV films. His record-breaking 15 TV series as lead is a testament to his skill as an actor.
Robert Urich’s Early Life & Education
On December 19, 1946, John Paul and Cecilia Monica Urich were delighted to welcome their newborn son, Robert, to their family in Toronto, Ohio, in the United States.
Robert was born into a deeply religious Catholic household. He was born into a family of Rusyn and Slovak heritage and was brought up in the Byzantine Catholic and Roman Catholic faiths.
Back in 1964, he was awarded a diploma from Toronto High School. Subsequently, due to his aptitude for football, he was presented with a football scholarship at Florida State University where he played center.
Additionally, he joined the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Finally, in 1968, Robert Urich attained a bachelor’s degree in radio and television communications.
He began his career in Ohio, working there for a while. Following that, he attended Michigan State University and obtained his Master’s in broadcast research and management in 1971.
Afterward, he moved to Chicago and had a job as a salesman for the independent television station WGN-TV. Additionally, he spent a brief period of time employed as a TV meteorologist.
Though he had a job in Chicago, it was an encounter with Burt Reynolds during a Chicago production of The Rainmaker that encouraged him to move to Los Angeles and become an actor.
Robert Urich’s career in the entertainment business kick-started in the early 1970s. His first appearance on television was as a guest star on The F.B.I. in 1972.
The following year, he starred in the television series Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, based on the 1969 movie of the same title. Although it only had a brief run, it was enough to make Urich known in the industry.
Urich’s career began to gain traction when he appeared in the 1973 movie Magnum Force, alongside Clint Eastwood. He played a motorbike cop in the classic film.
In 1975, Urich landed the role of “Officer Jim Street” in the action/crime drama series, S.W.A.T. Despite its mid-season replacement status, the show earned high ratings but was unfortunately canceled the following year due to its violent content.
In 1977, Robert Urich made a change of direction when he was cast as “Peter Campbell” and “The Tennis Player” in the sitcom Soap. He also starred as the good-looking and egotistical talk show host, Paul Thurston, in the Tabitha spin-off series.
Urich’s career was catapulted to new heights in 1978 when he was cast as the lead in the popular crime drama series, Vega$. In the show, Urich played “Dan Tanna”, a private detective in Las Vegas who solved a variety of cases. His exemplary performance earned him two Golden Globe Award nominations and Vega$ was a major success for ABC.
In 1985, Robert Urich made a comeback to television with his lead role in the detective series Spenser: For Hire. This show, inspired by the mystery books of Robert B. Parker, proved to be a success and ran for three years. Urich also resumed this part in several TV movies after the show ended.
In the ’90s, Robert Urich had parts in some TV movies and a few short-lived series. He was featured in American Dreamer and It Had to Be You sitcoms.
He was also the host of the medical show Vital Signs. In spite of his battle with cancer, Urich made a remarkable comeback and acted in Love Boat: The Next Wave in 1998 and performed in the Broadway musical Chicago in 2000.
Urich had two marriages in his lifetime and fathered three offspring. He tied the knot with actress Barbara Rucker in 1971, however, their union was dissolved in 1974.
In 1975, Urich wed Heather Menzies, a famous actress most renowned for her portrayal of “Louisa von Trapp” in The Sound of Music. Their union continued until Urich’s death in 2002.
The couple had three kids in total. Their firstborn, Ryan, came into the world in 1979. Emily Urich was born in 1980, and Menzies also brought Allison Grady into the relationship from a prior marriage.
Robert Urich’s Death
Robert Urich sadly passed away on April 16, 2002, due to the complications of an uncommon cancer, synovial sarcoma. This cancer had been an ongoing battle for Urich for a number of years before his death at the age of 55. His death marked the close of a successful run in the entertainment business.
Estimated Net Worth
When Robert Urich passed away in 2002, he had an estimated net worth of 4 million dollars. During his three-decade-long career in television, he took part in 15 shows, but he was best known for his parts as Officer Jim Street in S.W.A.T. (1975-1976), Dan Tanna in Vega$ (1978-1981), and Spenser in Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988). Additionally, he lent his voice to more than 100 episodes of National Geographic Explorer (1988-1995).