Family & Companions
A familiar face to film and television fans for over three decades, Richard Masur was an Emmy- and Oscar-nominated character actor whose avuncular roles included turns on "Rhoda" (CBS, 1974-78), "One Day at a Time" (CBS, 1975-1984) and "The Burning Bed" (NBC, 1984) as well as commanding parts in feature films like "Risky Business" (1983), "License to Drive" (1988) and countless other projects. The former stage actor branched into directing in the late 1980s, but remained faithful to his craft throughout most of his career, which included two terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild. His dependable and versatile talent made him a welcome presence on both the big and small screens and he never failed to elevate whatever project he was involved with.
Born in New York City on Nov. 20, 1948, Masur's father was a pharmacist, while his mother taught at a local high school. Initially, his career path was medicine, but he changed his major to theatre arts, which led to a scholarship at the Yale School of Drama followed by steady work on the stage. His Broadway debut came in 1973 with "The Changing Room;" producer Norman Lear saw his performance and was suitably impressed to offer him a guest spot on "All in the Family" (CBS, 1971-79). His turn as a mentally handicapped stockboy on the 1974 episode "Gloria's Boyfriend" spurred Masur to move to Los Angeles; within a year's time, he had racked up appearances on "M*A*S*H" (CBS, 1972-1983), "The Waltons" (CBS, 1972-1981) and his first series, "The Hot L Baltimore" (ABC, 1975), produced by Lear and based on the Off-Broadway play of the same name. His feature debut came in the failed comedy "Whiffs" (1975), which reunited Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland from the theatrical version of "M*A*S*H" (1970).
Masur soon became a familiar presence in both features and on television. He was frequently cast as empathetic souls like Nick Lobo, deadpan accordionist and boyfriend to Brenda Morgenstern (Julie Kavner) on "Rhoda," Ann Romano's (Bonnie Franklin's) sympathetic boyfriend on "One Day at a Time," or Farrah Fawcett's public defender in the groundbreaking TV movie, "The Burning Bed" (1984), which earned him an Emmy nomination. But his versatility allowed him to play a wide range of roles - from the businesslike interviewer from Yale who visits new pimp-on-the-block Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" (1983) to the taciturn dog trainer in John Carpenter's "The Thing" (1982), to the hapless corporate vice-president who takes marching orders from his wife in the short-lived comedy series, "Empire" (CBS, 1984).
In 1986, Masur branched into directing with the short "Love Struck," which earned him an Oscar for Best Live Action Short. His debut foray into television directing - "Torn Between Two Fathers" (1989), an episode of the "ABC Afterschool Special" series (ABC, 1972-2005) - earned him a Directors Guild of America nomination. Episodes of "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1986-1993) followed, but Masur concentrated his singular focus on continuing his acting career. Among his more memorable appearances during this fruitful period of the late 1980s were as Corey Haim's beleaguered dad in "License to Drive" (1988), Dan Aykroyd's surly brother in "My Girl" (1990), one of a string of town mayors on the critically acclaimed drama series, "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96) who happen to gets memorably frozen alive, and a fugitive on the run in several episodes of "L.A. Law" (NBC, 1986-1994).
Spurred by a friend's suggestion and the abiding concern that he wanted to give back to an organization that had done so much for his career, Masur served as president of the Screen Actors Guild from 1995-99. In 1989, he ran for a seat on the Guild board and won; two years later he captured back-to-back tenures as 3rd Vice-President. Masur took the presidency of the Screen Actors Guild in 1995 and served two terms as its leader, with his key agenda being a merger with SAG and the American Federation of Television Radio and Artists (AFTRA). While the latter was rejected by members after a referendum vote in 1999, Masur did work on several significant committees; most notably the National Health Plan Ad Hoc Committee, where he served as national chair for six years. In 1999, Masur ran for a third term as president, but was unseated by actor William Daniels. He was the third incumbent president in SAG history to be defeated by a challenger.
His bureaucratic work done, Masur returned to a regular slate of guest appearances in films and on television after completing his stint as SAG president. He played celebrated sports columnist Milt Kahn in "61*" (2001), Billy Crystal's HBO drama about Yankees legends Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and appeared as the ineffectual father of Aviva, the misguided central figure in Todd Solondz's "Palindromes" (2004). Television provided him with regular work, which included recurring guest appearances on "The Practice" (ABC, 1996-2004) and "All My Children" (ABC, 1970- ).
Cast (Feature Film)
Music (Feature Film)
Sound (Feature Film)
Special Thanks (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
Worked as an actor and technical director for the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, CT
Portrayed Menelaus and Ajax off-Broadway in New York Shakespeare Festival production of "Troilus and Cressida"
Appeared in the New Haven production of "The Changing Room"
Broadway debut, "The Changing Room", played Jack Stringer, Number 4
Moved to Los Angeles in August
On February 2nd, made TV acting debut with guest shot on "All in the Family" (episode title: "Gloria's Boyfriend") as a mentally challenged supermarket stockboy whom Gloria befriends
On October 12th, made guest shot on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" (episode title: "The Outsider") as consultant who irks the newsroom staff with his efforts to bolster ratings
Film debut in "Whiffs"
Co-starred as the harried manager in the short-lived Lear-produced sitcom "Hot L Baltimore" on ABC
TV-movie debut, "Having Babies", an ABC medical drama
Starred in "Bumpers", a busted NBC sitcom pilot, as an assembly-line auto worker
Starred as Dr. Arthur Murdock, a zoo veterinarian, on "The Many Loves of Arthur", an unsold NBC sitcom pilot
Played a child pornographer in the highly rated CBS TV-movie "Fallen Angel"
TV miniseries debut, "John Steinbeck's 'East of Eden'" on ABC
Played the supporting role of Jay Howell in the acclaimed NBC docudrama "Adam" about missing children; reprised the role for the 1986 sequel "Adam: His Song Continues"
Co-starred in "Empire", a short-lived broadly played satire of corporate in-fighting spoof on CBS, played an incompetent sales vice president (ran one month)
Garnered an Emmy nod for Best Supporting Actor playing Farrah Fawcett's defense attorney in the acclaimed telefilm "The Burning Bed"
Film directing debut, helmed Oscar-nominated live-action short, "Love Struck", produced by wife Fredda Weiss and starring Judge Reinhold
Co-starred as Mr. Carlton Davis, the head of a joke-playing family in "Mr. Boogedy", an unsold hour-long pilot aired as part of ABC's "Disney Sunday Movie"; reprised role for a two-hour 1987 TV-movie sequel, "Bride of Boogedy", also aired on "Disney Sunday Movie"
Directed an episode of the Jay Tarses-produced sitcom "The 'Slap' Maxwell Story"
Directed a well-received installment of the "ABC Afternoon Specials" entitled "Torn Between Two Fathers"; nominated for a DGA award for his direction (Dramatic Series, Daytime)
Helmed two episodes of "The Wonder Years", the popular nostalgic ABC sitcom
Appeared in three consecutive episodes of the NBC legal drama "L.A. Law" as 1960s activist-turned-fugitive Barry Glassman (aka Jay Ellison)
Elected third vice-president of Screen Actors Guild
Directed an episode of "Picket Fences"
Elected president of SAG
As SAG president, worked on the merger plan between his guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), put the guild on record as opposing the California Civil Rights Initiative (an anti-affirmative action measure), the initiative was subsequently voted in
Re-elected to second term as SAG president