Robert Urich (December 19, 1946 – April 16, 2002) was an American actor. He played the starring role in the television series Spenser: For Hire (1985–1988) and Vega$ (1978–1981). He also appeared in other television series over the years including: S.W.A.T. (1975), Soap (1977), and The Lazarus Man (1996), 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, he underwent several treatments to fight the cancer during the last years of his 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 had 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. 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.