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Robert Urich’s wife vowed to fight for her dream and their adopted son became a doctor after his death

Robert Urich had a wonderful acting career in Hollywood. However, he faced challenges which ultimately led to his death. It was his wife who accompanied him in his most difficult moments. His death even left his son with a new career focus.

Urich got his big break when he starred as Burt Reynolds’ younger brother in a 1972 production of “The Rainmaker.” After that, he acted in many other popular shows and movies such as “Magnum Force”, “Final Run” and “SWAT”.

The actor was born in December 1946 to parents John P. Urich and Cecelia Urich. Urich’s father was hard of hearing due to the noisy environment in which he worked as a steelworker, but his mother lovingly cared for him. Urich had a normal childhood and grew up aspiring to be an actor in Hollywood.

A portrait of Robert Urich circa 1980 | Source: Getty Images

Urich was married twice, to Barbara Rucker from 1968 to 1974 and then to Heather Menzies from 1975 until his death in 2002. The actor had no children with his first wife but adopted three children with his second wife. son Ryan and daughters Allison and Emily, due to fertility issues.

While Rucker and Menzies were both actresses, Urich’s romance with each of the women was very different. Urich was older in his second marriage and was therefore much more caring and caring towards his second wife. Being more mature turned out to be the key to a happy marriage, as her marriage to Menzies was significantly longer than her marriage to Rucker.

Urich and Menzies met in acting class while reading for a commercial together and later starred in an episode of “The Love Boat” together. While Menzies thought Urich was a “clever aleck” at first, he won her over by the end of the course. Urich then says:

“After that [their initial date] I may have spent a night or two at my house alone. She did the same. But, after that, we were together all the time.

Robert Urich and Heather Menzies on the set of “The Love Boat” Season 2, USA, 1978 | Source: Getty Images

As soon as Urich’s father heard of Menzies after his son met her in acting class, he knew she was the woman his son would eventually marry. He was right shortly after.


While both Urich and Menzies had thriving careers in Hollywood, kids were on the horizon for the couple. Urich and Menzies were briefly married when Menzies became pregnant with the couple’s first child. She revealed:

“We weren’t trying and we were over the moon.”

Robert Urich, wife Heather Menzies, son Ryan Urich and daughter Emily Urich at the 59th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade 1990, Hollywood, CA. | Source: Getty Images

However, the young actress unfortunately miscarried the couple’s first child. The same thing happened twice more with their second and third pregnancies and their minds were fading. They desperately wanted to start a family but were only heartbroken.

After both working on projects for a while and traveling, they finally found a way to expand their family. The couple had decided to adopt and were put on an adoption waiting list by Tom Miller, the head of Catholic Charities in Los Angeles at the time. Urich revealed that they had waited a very long time before they could finally adopt their first child. The couple ended up expanding their family with three children through adoption.

At the height of his career, Urich led a simple and quiet family life with his wife and three children. The actor was doing well on screen and was in the spotlight more than ever, but one thing he could count on was that as soon as he got home he would be able to settle back into family life.

Robert Urich on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”, 1991 | Source: Getty Images

However, there was something simmering beneath the surface that would shake Urich and his family to the bottom. The actor’s health was in danger and he would fight a losing battle for several years. Urich’s wife was the first person he shared his concerns with.

Urich and Menzies enjoyed walking together and on one of these walks, in the middle of discussing future plans and ideas, Urich mentioned to his wife that while he was in the shower he found a small bump on his body, the size of a pea. . Menzies remembers wondering:

“How could something so small be a threat?”

Actor Robert Urich and his wife Heather Menzies attend the 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards 1991 held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA. | Source: Getty Images

It wasn’t until later, when Urich went to have the lump checked by a medical professional, that the couple found out just how much of a threat something so small could be. The actor was diagnosed with synovial tissue sarcoma, a form of cancer that affects the soft tissues of the body and often affects areas such as the arms, legs, feet and joints such as the ankles and elbows.

The actor bravely battled the disease for a few years, with Menzies always by his side for support. However, on April 16, 2002, in Thousand Oaks, California, Urich finally lost his battle with illness.


Heather Menzies is comforted by Emeril Lagasse after Robert Urich’s funeral, April 19, 2002. | Source: Getty Images

After her husband’s death, Menzies became involved in helping those battling cancer. She founded the Robert Urich Foundation, which raises funds for cancer research after Urich’s death. She revealed:

“I have sworn to make it my life’s mission to keep fighting for his dream and his vision: a world where the word ‘cancer’ is simply the memory of a war we won,”

Sadly, the ‘Sound of Music’ actress passed away on Christmas Eve 2017, after losing her battle with cancer. Ryan Urich revealed that the actress was surrounded by her family at the time of her death.

Robert Urich, wife Heather Menzies and son Ryan Urich attend the Third Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on February 23, 1997 | Source: Getty Images

Although Urich is proud that his son starred with him in ‘Survive the Savage Sea’, the young man decided to become a doctor after watching his father battle cancer. The boy was studying biology when his father underwent his third round of cancer treatment. Urich’s son Ryan said:

“I went to medicine because I couldn’t help my father medically, but maybe I can help someone else,”

Ryan Urich believed his father was a wonderfully strong man who played with his grandchildren until two days before his death and remembers him fondly while helping others with his father’s illness.


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