November 13, 1932
Bronx, New York, United States
September 26, 2000
Hollywood, California, United States
Joan Hackett, Lenore Stevens, Patricia Jones, Serena Robinson
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A lanky American character player whose plummy voice, mobile features and accomplished timing made him a natural for nervous, befuddled, often clumsy comic roles, Richard Mulligan began in show business with ambitions to be a playwright but instead found work more readily as an actor. Keeping busy shuttling back and forth between the stage, screen ("The Group" 1966, "The Undefeated" 1969) and TV guest spots, he was briefly given a chance in the sitcom spotlight as "The Hero" (NBC, 1966-67), a klutzy actor portraying a TV lawman. It was not until the late 1970s, however, that his broadly-played brand of quirky comedy found a niche in the ABC soap-opera satire "Soap" (1977-81), created by the team of Susan Harris, Tony Thomas and Paul Junger Witt and the same producing trio again found work for Mulligan in their later sitcom "Empty Nest" (NBC, 1988-95). (He won Emmy Awards for his work on both series.)A regular fixture in Blake Edwards's 1980s comedies ("S.O.B." 1981, "Micki and Maude" 1984, "A Fine Mess" 1986), the actor got his first screen break in a small role in "Love With the Proper Stranger" (1963), directed by his older brother Robert Mulligan. He also delivered a memorable turn as General Custer in "Little Big Man" (1970). Mulligan has been married four times and his wives include the late Joan Hackett, opposite whom he appeared in "The Group," and adult star Rachel Ryan (a.k.a. Serina Robinson).