Robert Urich enjoyed a successful acting career in Hollywood. But he encountered some difficulties that ultimately caused his demise. He was supported by his wife during his most trying times. In fact, his death gave his son a new career objective.
In a 1972 production of “The Rainmaker,” Urich played the role of Burt Reynolds’ younger brother and received his big break. He then went on to star in a number of other well-known programs and films, including “Magnum Force,” “Final Run,” and “S.W.A.T.”
Parents John P. Urich and Cecelia Urich welcomed their son into the world in December 1946. Because of the noisy environment in which he worked as a steelworker, Urich’s father had hearing loss, although his mother gave him tender care. Urich had a typical childhood and grew up wanting to work in Hollywood as an actor.
Urich was married twice, first to Heather Menzies from 1975 until his passing in 2002. He was first married to Barbara Rucker from 1968 to 1974. The actor didn’t have any kids with Rucker, but he adopted Ryan, Allison, and Emily as well as two girls through Menzies.
Although Menzies and Rucker were both actors, Urich had separate love stories with each of the women. Urich was more thoughtful of his second wife because he was older and in a second marriage. As his marriage to Menzies lasted a lot longer than his marriage to Rucker, being more mature turned out to be the key to a happy marriage.
Urich and Menzies first came into contact while auditioning for a commercial in an acting class. They later co-starred in an episode of “The Love Boat.” Menzies originally dismissed Urich as a “clever aleck,” but by the end of the lesson, she had changed her mind. Then Urich said:
“I may have spent one or two nights alone in my own home after that. She followed suit. But after that, we stayed in close proximity constantly.”
Menzies was the woman that Urich’s father would eventually marry as soon as he learned about her when his son met her in the acting class. A short while later, he was shown to be correct.
Even though Urich and Menzies both had successful Hollywood jobs, the couple was planning to have kids. Menzies became pregnant with the couple’s first child after only a brief marriage to Urich. We weren’t even trying, she admitted, and we were thrilled.
Unfortunately, the young actress lost the couple’s unborn child. Their spirits were dwindling when the same thing repeated itself with their second and third pregnancy. They were broken-hearted but really wanted to have a family.
They eventually discovered a way to grow their family after working on projects and taking trips. The couple registered for adoption after deciding to adopt. Urich disclosed that they had to wait a long time to adopt their first child. Through adoption, the couple ultimately added three children to their family.
Urich had a straightforward, calm home life with his wife and three kids throughout the height of his professional career. The actor was enjoying success on-screen and was in the public eye more than ever, but he knew he could return to his family life as soon as he went home.
However, a secret conflict was developing that would rock Urich and his family to their very core. The actor’s health was in jeopardy, and he would spend years fighting an uphill struggle. The first person Urich spoke to explain his worries was his wife.
Menzies and Urich enjoyed power walking together, and during one of these strolls, while they discussed ideas and plans for the future, Urich told his wife that he had discovered a pea-sized lump while taking a shower. Menzies remembered thinking: “How could anything so tiny possibly be a threat?”
The pair didn’t realize how dangerous something so small could be until Urich subsequently decided to get the lump examined by a doctor. The actor was identified as having synovial tissue sarcoma, a soft tissue cancer that frequently affects the arms, legs, feet, and joints.
For a few years, the actor heroically battled the illness with Menzies constantly by his side to lend encouragement. But on April 16, 2002, in Thousand Oaks, California, Urich succumbed to the illness for good.
After her husband passed away, Menzies vowed to support those dealing with cancer. After Urich’s passing, she established the Robert Urich Foundation, which raises money for cancer research. She disclosed:
“I promised to make it my life’s work to pursue his dream and vision: a future in which the word “cancer” is merely a reminder of a battle we have triumphed,”
Sadly, the “Sound of Music” actress lost her fight with cancer and passed away on Christmas Eve in 2017. According to Ryan Urich, the actress was surrounded by her family when she passed away.
Urich was pleased that his son co-starred with him in “Survive the Savage Sea,” but the boy chose to pursue medicine after seeing his father battle cancer.
When his father underwent his third round of cancer treatment, the boy was studying biology. Ryan, Urich’s son, said:
I became a doctor because there was nothing I could do to help my father medically, but perhaps through helping someone else.
Ryan Urich remembers his father lovingly while helping others who had his father’s disease and thought he was a beautifully strong man who played with his grandchildren up to two days before he went away.