Comic Actor Richard Schaal Dies at 86

The first husband of Valerie Harper appeared often on 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show,' 'Rhoda' and 'Phyllis'

Richard Schaal, an early member of Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe who appeared often on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and its spinoffs Rhoda — which starred his then wife, Valerie Harper — and Phyllis, has died. He was 86.

Schaal died Tuesday at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, California, his daughter, American Dad! voice actress Wendy Schaal, told the Chicago Tribune.

Schaal was married three times, including to Harper (his second wife) from 1964 until their divorce in 1978. He was the first of Harper's two husbands.

The actor also appeared in such films as Norman Jewison's The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), George Roy Hill's Slaughterhouse-Five (1972) and Once Bitten (1985), starring Lauren Hutton and Jim Carrey.

Schaal played Howard Arnell and his twin brother, Paul, both of whom dated Mary Richards in separate episodes of CBS' Mary Tyler Moore Show, and he was WJM kids show host Chuckles the Clown on the 1970 installment The Snow Must Go On, in which Mary has to produce the station's election coverage in an emergency.

On Rhoda, Schall portrayed Charlie Burke, an annoying pal of Rhoda's husband, Joe (David Groh). And on Phyllis, he was Leo Heatherton, a mistake-prone photographer who worked in the same studio as Cloris Leachman's title character during that series' first season.

A native of Chicago, Schaal ran a construction company in the Windy City before hooking up with Second City in 1962. A master of sketch comedy and improvisation, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Improv Festival in 2010.

In the 1980s, Schaal had regular roles on the ABC sitcom Just Our Luck and on the CBS dramas Trapper John, M.D. and Almost Grown, which was created by David Chase of The Sopranos fame.

He also appeared on such TV shows as The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Banacek and The Rockford Files.

Twitter: @mikebarnes4

 
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