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David Groh Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (3)  | Trivia (15)

Overview (4)

Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (kidney cancer)
Birth NameDavid Lawrence Groh
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (1)

David Groh's highly anticipated "marriage" to Valerie Harper on the eighth episode of the sitcom Rhoda (1974) was the highest rated episode of the decade, and the second most-watched program of all-time, surpassed only by the birth of 'little Ricky', on I Love Lucy (1951), with more than 50 million viewers watching, and it was this co-starring role which situated him squarely on the Hollywood TV map. Rhoda Morgenstern, the cynical, beloved Bronx-born jokester best friend Mary Richards on the Mary Tyler Moore (1970), who was recently spun off from this classic comedy series, and landed back in New York City, where she finally found her dream man who would sweep her off her feet, in the form of dark curly-haired, blue-collared Joe Gerard and audiences were ecstatic. Groh had been cast over 150 other actors, and though he had little comedy experience, he had great camera presence, and went on to handle himself quite well, as Rhoda's husband.

The writer's had felt pressured by CBS' head of programming, Fred Silverman, to get Rhoda married as soon as possible, whereas, they had wanted to push a(ny possible) wedding back - at least till after the first season, and it soon became clear that Rhoda's marriage wasn't as great a success as expected. Amongst other difficulties were the restrictions put on the 'marriage'; including Groh having to appear wearing a pajama top on if the 2 were in bed together, and any talk of sex had to walk Standards and Practices' fine line. So after 2 seasons, the series' producers decided to break up the central married couple, and Joe was written out of the show. Concerned producers reasoned that marriage had changed Rhoda, whose initial appeal was from her outsider status when she was a lovelorn bachelorette and they could get more comedy mileage out of her character if she reverted back to being single. At the time, however, divorce was a serious issue and not as casually addressed in comedy as it is today. Audiences were perturbed that their beloved Rhoda would end up a divorcée, but the series ran 4 more years.

Although David never found that same kind of attention again, for him it was more about the work, and he'd continue to work steadily on stage and in independent films, but in a lesser light.

Born David Lawrence Groh 21 May, 1939, the son of Jewish-Americans Benjamin (an architect) and Mildred Groh, he received his diploma from Brooklyn Technical High School, where was elected student body president. He subsequently attended Brown University with an early interest in engineering but graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a degree in English literature. He apprenticed for a couple seasons at the American Shakespeare Festival in Stratford, Connecticut, and was a spear carrier in the Katharine Hepburn/Robert Ryan production of "Antony and Cleopatra" in 1960. This early encouragement led to further studies in London -- courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship. David served in the Army for six months in 1963, and a year of reserve duty. Returning to his native New York, he sharpened his technique at the Actors Studio. Appearing around and about in such plays as "The Importance of Being Earnest," he finally marked his TV debut on a 1968 episode of the cult Gothic daytime drama Dark Shadows (1966) and made his film entrance in a prime role in the Italian-made feature Colpo rovente (1970).

While continuing to add on-camera credits to his resume, notably a regular 1972-1973 role in the daytime drama Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (1967), it wasn't until he made the move to Los Angeles in 1974 when his career suddenly accelerated. Within months he was cast alongside Valerie Harper in Rhoda (1974) and enjoyed 2 solid seasons as her handsome construction worker hubby. After he was phased out of the show, he found a sitcom of his own to star in with Another Day (1978) opposite Joan Hackett, but the family-oriented program lasted only a month in April. From then on he focused more and more on heavier dramatics. He portrayed the evil-minded D.L. Brock on the daytime soap opera General Hospital (1963) from 1983 to 1985, and later co-starred in the Roger Corman crime action series Black Scorpion (2001), while finding recurring roles on such programs as Melrose Place (1992), Baywatch (1989), and Law & Order (1990). Although he never made a strong showing on the large screen, David did appear in the films Irish Whiskey Rebellion (1972), Two-Minute Warning (1976) and A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich (1978) in between assorted stage and TV assignments.

Groh returned strongly to his theater roots after Rhoda and played both appealingly charismatic and slick, unsavory types. He made his Broadway debut replacing Judd Hirsch in the winning Neil Simon comedy "Chapter Two" in 1978. Down the road he appeared in an assortment of plays: "King Lear" (1982), "Be Happy for Me" (1986), "Road Show" (1987), "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt" (1989), "The Twilight of the Golds" (1993), "Mizlansky/Zilinsky" (2000), "The Waverly Gallery," "Gangster Planet" (2002) and "Blackout" (2003), to name a few. He was an admired fixture both in New York and on the smaller Los Angeles stages and tried his hand at stage directing with a production of "Mango Mango" at the Lee Strasberg Creative Center Theatre in Los Angeles in 2000. In recent years, David appeared occasionally in support of independent features.

David developed a lifelong passion for early American furniture and folk art (which first blossomed as a youth visiting the Brooklyn and Metropolitan Museums and fully bloomed from his association with an acting teacher who was also a collector). David lived in Los Angeles at the time of his death from kidney cancer at age 68, and had 1 son - Spencer, from a prior 80s relationship with Karla Pergande. His first marriage to Denise Arsenault was annulled. He and his surviving third wife, the former Kristin Andersen, were in the early stages of development on a new low-budget film tentatively called "Lower East Side Story".

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net (corrected, updated by U.N. Owen)

Spouse (3)

Karla Suzanne Pergande (1988 - ?) ( divorced) ( 1 child)
Denise Arsenault (1984 - ?) ( annulled)
Kristin Andersen (? - 12 February 2008) ( his death)

Trivia (15)

Graduated from Brown University.
Graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn N.Y. in 1957. Was Student Body President.
Has one son Spencer.
Mom, Mildred Groh, lives in Los Angeles area; sister Marilyn Mamann, lives in San Fernando Valley.
Audiences were quite stunned and miffed when David and Valerie "broke up" and divorced on the "Rhoda" show. Fans even sent them letters and cards expressing their condolences.
David was written out of the "Rhoda" show in 1977 when they decided to make "Rhoda" single again (they were "divorced"). Nevertheless, he and Valerie Harper remained lifelong friends.
Had a lifelong passion for all things colonial American (especially furniture). He accumulated items and art and kept much of it at his second home in lower Connecticut.
Survived by his mother Mildred and one sister Marilyn.
Member, Phi Beta Kappa.
Attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art as a Fulbright scholar.
Has one son, Spencer, from his marriage to second wife Karla Pergande.
David and actor 'Judd Hirsch' have crossed paths in several important and interesting ways professionally. Judd was starring in the off Broadway play "Hot L Baltimore" in New York when David replaced him for three weeks in 1973. The MTM producers for the sitcom "Rhoda" originally wanted Judd for the role of Joe Girard, but Hirsch turned them down and David got the part. After David's husband character was written off the "Rhoda" show, Judd appeared for a couple of episodes as a new boyfriend. Finally, Judd opened in the Neil Simon autobiographical play "Chapter Two" on Broadway. After its initial run, David replaced Judd and made his Broadway debut opposite Anita Gillette.
In the 1990s David tried to find film and TV properties to produce. One of these was a biography of Ulysses S. Grant, but nothing came of it.
While living in Los Angeles he gave home to a succession of Irish Setters.
At one time in New York he was an avid, weekend salt water fisherman.

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