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Rhoda Actor David Groh


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'Rhoda' Actor David Groh

by Jacob Adelman, Associated Press Writer


David Groh . . . Today and Yesterday in 1977

LOS ANGELES, California -- David Groh, the handsome, hardworking character actor who was best known to television viewers as the easygoing man Rhoda Morgenstern married and divorced during the run of Valerie Harper's hit 1970s sitcom, "Rhoda," died Tuesday, February 12. He was 68.

Groh died Tuesday of kidney cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his sister-in-law Catherine Mullally told The Associated Press in a statement. Groh's wife, actress and acting coach Kristin Andersen, was by his side.

Groh became an instant celebrity on September 9, 1974, when he starred as the easygoing Joe Gerard opposite Valerie Harper's neurotic Rhoda Morgenstern on "Rhoda." The show was a spinoff from television's hugely popular, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which was set in Minneapolis.


David Groh as Joe and Valerie Harper as Rhoda ....The Wedding of Rhoda and Joe

"Rhoda" had Harper's character moving back home to New York City, where she met Joe. Seven episodes after the series emerged, Rhoda married Joe, who ran a wrecking company. The advance publicity was so immense that the episode made television history with one of the show's highest-rated episodes.

Divorce was not a subject generally addressed on television in the 1970s, and when Groh's character, Joe and Harper's Rhoda split up during the show's third season, viewers were stunned. When the couple separated in the third season and later divorced, viewers, assuming the actors were married in real life, sent letters of condolence.

Groh's stunning good looks and real-life good nature were key to helping him win the part of her TV husband, Harper said. "We looked all over and he finally came on the scene," Harper said. "I read every cute guy of a certain age in Hollywood and he was the one . . . I enjoyed very much working with him. He was a lovely, lovely guy."


Actors Michael Lerner and David Groh in a

scene from Broadway's 'Mizlansky/Zilinisky'

Groh was written out of the show, Harper said, when the producers decided "Rhoda" worked better with its star as a single woman. "We all felt very bad about David not continuing," she said, adding the two remained lifelong friends.

Groh, who left the series after the divorce episodes, went on to appear in dozens of television shows and films, as well as on Broadway, over the next 30 years. Groh also drew a devoted following when he portrayed the nefarious D. L. Brock in the ABC daytime soap opera, "General Hospital," from 1983 to 1985.

Groh left the role to appear off-Broadway in "Be Happy for Me," even though he told The New York Times that his living expenses in New York actually surpassed his pay for the play. Theater was his love, he explained. Reviewing the play, Frank Rich called Groh "completely convincing as the brash gold-chain-and-bikini-clad Lothario."


David Groh

David Lawrence Groh was born on May 21, 1939, in Brooklyn, where he attended Brooklyn Technical High School. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Brown University as well as studied acting while attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright scholarship.

After a stint in the U.S. Army in 1963 and 1964, he returned to New York to study at the Actors Studio and appeared in theater productions "so far off Broadway, my parents would take subways and buses and taxis to try to find me," he later said.

Groh acted in numerous daytime and prime time television shows, including "Dark Shadows" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" in the 1960s before landing "Rhoda." His other television roles included recurring appearances on "Law & Order," "Baywatch," "Police Story" and "Girlfriends."


David Groh and his wife, Kristin Andersen

Groh made TV guest appearances with roles on "The X-Files," "Melrose Place," "Murder, She Wrote" and "L.A. Law." Groh also had several film credits including "Get Shorty," "Two Minute Warning," "Broken Vow," "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich" and "Victory at Entebbe."

Groh appeared on Broadway in the 1978 production of Neil Simon's "Chapter Two" and Jon Tolin's drama, "Twilight of the Golds," in 1993. In recent years, Groh appeared in independent films such as "Crazylove" in 2005 and "Expecting Love" to be released in 2008. Groh had been developing a film called "Lower East Side Story" with his wife.

Survivors include his wife, actress Kristin Andersen; his son, Spencer Groh, from a previous marriage; his mother, Mildred Groh of Los Angeles and his sister, Marilyn Mamann of the San Fernando Valley. Memorial services are pending. His family suggests donations to the Actors Studio, 8341 De Longpre Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069.

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