Goodbye, Spenser (*sigh*): Robert Urich died

Robert Urich, the first television version of Spenser, died at age 55 of synovial sarcoma, according to CNN.

Although he had a long career and had several other series to his credit, to me and to many other mystery buffs, he’s best remembered for Spenser: For Hire, the series based on the Spenser novels by Robert Parker. Even though it’s been fifteen years, and the show seems dated now, (occasionally, you can catch one of the movies on Lifetime) I can’t read a Spenser novel without projecting Urich’s (and Avery Brooks, who played Hawk) voice onto it.

It is a good thing, then, that there’s a new Spenser novel out.


I never saw Spenser. I’ve only seen a couple of films he’s been in. But I have Lonesome Dove on DVD.

Urich was one of the few actors who seemed to be a genuine nice guy.

Although the TV show wasn’t always true to the books – indeed, how could it be? – it was a great chance to feed my Spenser fix between books. And while I thought Urich was a good Spenser, I thought Avery Brooks was THE quintissential Hawk. The rest of the casting was terrible: Barbara Stock was too eighties-fluffy to ever capture Susan Silverman, and Richard Jaeckel was, frankly, too short to be Quirk.

IN any case, Spenser was but a tiny part of Urich’s career - I saw him live in Chicago, and he did a marvelous job in the world of musical comedy.

He’ll be missed.

Goodbye to a real class act. :frowning:

Beat me to the punch, Robyn, damn your eyes . . .

What a shame; I knew he’d been ill, but always liked him. Hope this doesn’t kick off another “three.”

Aww… damn. :frowning:

I liked Spenser For Hire, but I gotta give props to VEGA$ while we’re at it. Such a shame.

You’re right, Brooks IS Hawk. But I always see Urick as Spenser when I read the books as well. The scene from the opening credits where he slurps a piece of spaghetti with that grin- That captured Spenser for me. Joe Mantegna isn’t even in the ballpark.

S’long Robert. Godspeed.

Coincidently, I just finished reading Parker’s latest Spenser book two nights ago. Even though I’ve only seen maybe two episodes of Spenser: For Hire in my life (just wasn’t a mystery fan when it was on, I was probably too young, too), I always have Urich in mind when I read the books. I’m sure I always will, too. I’d always heard he was a good person, on and off the set. His death is very sad.

I saw Urich at the National Theater in DC playing Billy Flynn in the musical, Chicago. He had a sensational singing voice and presence to spare.

I didn’t really buy him as Spenser because he was too handsome; Spenser as written is in his 50s, burly, and kinda rough around the edges. But Avery Brooks will stand forever as the definitive Hawk.

Robert Urich will be missed.

A local radio station (WBIG) played a tribute to him this morning. Mr. Urich once visited the station and, having been the captain in an attempt to revive “The Love Boat”, he was asked to sing the original theme. Nice guy that he was, he complied.


It was my great good fortune to have been a fan of Robert Urich through his entire career, and to have enjoyed his work on SWAT, Tabitha, Soap, Vegas, American Dreamer, Crossroads, and It Had To Be You as well as Spenser. I even went to see the infamously bad movie Ice Pirates (although I can’t say I enjoyed it, in spite of Bob’s performance).

Oh, and I forgot his role as the Captain of The Love Boat: The Next Wave. His T.V. series and movies weren’t always of the highest quality, but I loved every one of his performances.

I also got the chance to see him perform live in Chicago.

And then there were the T.V. movies, which I could never resist, as cheesy as some of them were. I particularly liked Take Your Best Shot, Blind Faith, and His Mistress.

When I heard that he had been cast as Spenser, I had not yet read Robert Parker’s novels, and I was concerned that the character of Spenser might have too hard an edge for Bob to play. But as soon as I started reading the books, I realized that he was the perfect choice for Spenser, who is tough on the outside, but a bowl of emotional mush inside.

Robert Urich is one of only two actors who were ever truly believable as heroes to me (the other is Harrison Ford).

Damn. I’ll miss him.

I too have followed Robert Urich’s career through the years and had been praying for him since his first diagnosis with the cancer back in '96. Though I enjoyed him as Spenser for Hire (& loved the definitive Hawk of Avery Brooks), for me he’ll always be Dan Tanna of Vega$ first and foremost. I’m going to check on TvLand this weekend, they may do some sort of tribute and show Vega$. God Speed, Bob!


A little Robert Urich trivia…
His widow is Heather Menzies who played Louisa von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”.

Godspeed Robert.

I’m a big fan of the Spenser TV show, which introduced me to Robert B. Parker’s novels and made me a fan for life. Like everybody else here, whenever I read the books I picture Urich as Spenser and Brooks as Hawk. And I always will.

As for his being a class act, the stories are true. When Fox Chase Cancer Center opened a new wing in the late 1990’s I attended the dedication ceremony. Robert Urich was the keynote speaker and he delivered an excellent talk about his own experiences. Afterward, he stayed near the dais until every single person who wanted to shake his hand and/or get an autograph or photo had a chance to spend a moment with him. What’s more, you could tell by looking at him that his smiles and friendly comments were genuine and not a put-on.

So farewell and Godspeed, Robert. I wish you peace and comfort.

A genuinely nice guy, and a Slovak. (The two often go together.)

I, too, sat through Ice Pirates, and enjoyed Vega$ and Spencer for Hire. For some reason, I never followed up with the novels. I’ll check them out now, in memoriam.

When he was doing that dreadful sitcom with Emeril Lagasse, I was under the impression that he had recovered from his cancer. I came across the news of his passing on a friend’s website and I was completely thrown for a loop.

Godspeed, Robert, indeed. RIP.

Don’t forget Magnum Force either.

Bye Bob.


Rest in Peace; Robert Urich.