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BWW Feature: THE ROBERT URICH STORY - AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE - A Biography By Joe Martelle

BWW Feature: THE ROBERT URICH STORY - AN EXTRAORDINARY LIFE - A Biography By Joe Martelle

The Robert Urich Story - An Extraordinary Life is more than a biography of an inspirational man. Author Joe Martelle had become friends with Urich in the 1980s and decided to write the book sharing his unique knowledge when Martelle's wife Kim was unable to find any other book about Urich.

Actor Urich was many things to many people. He starred in the television show Vega$ and has remained an icon for Las Vegas over the decades. Urich also starred in Spenser: For Hire, becoming part of the Boston community. He inspired people with his brave six-year battle with cancer with his most significant role as spokesperson. Urich passed away at 55 but left a legacy.

Before his passing, Urich was working with an established author to write his story. Urich was not happy with the book and bought back the rights, and Martelle received permission from Urich's widow, Heather Menzies-Urich.

Urich starred in a record 16 television series, including the CBS miniseries Lonesome Dove. He always insisted on filming on location to create the authenticity of the show, and Martelle met him when Urich and his family relocated to Boston to film Spenser: For Hire. At the time, Martelle was a Boston radio personality and was in bed by 7 p.m. for the early morning shift. He had to admit to Urich that he was not familiar with him or his televisions shows.

"He took my hand, and his handshake was so strong I was afraid he was going to break my hand," says Martelle. "Then he gave me a big bear hug and admitted that neither he or wife ever watched his show Vega$ either. I knew then I liked him, and I believed he liked me because I didn't kiss up to him because of his celebrity."

Urich was born and raised in the town of Toronto, Ohio, blessed with intelligence, personality, talent, looks, and height. While he had many gifts and could have begun his career right out of high school, Urich obtained both an undergraduate and master's degree in broadcasting.

His first role was in the drama The F.B.I. but Urich was equally comfortable with comedy starring televisions Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Tabitha as well as appearing in Soap. He also acted in movies, including Magnum Force with Clint Eastwood.

But his breakout role was in the television show Vega$. His character was private detective Dan Tanna, driving around Las Vegas in a 1955 Thunderbird convertible and solving crimes. He received two Golden Globe Award nominations and became part of Sin City's history as this iconic character. However, Urich continued a very busy 30-year career known for many roles in all aspects including drama, comedy, romance, and westerns. The Hollywood Walk of Fame honored Urich with a star and fun facta??was the only person with a name starting with the letter U on the walk until singer Usher was added.

His first marriage ended in divorce when his first wife pursued her professional career, which took its toll on the relationship. However, once he met Heather, they married, raised three children, and remained together until his passing. His son is a doctor, and his daughter is a nurse and continues their parent's fight against cancer.

His most prominent role was one that he never planned and that was when Urich was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer, in 1996 while starring in The Lazarus Man. When Urich was upfront with producers about his diagnosis, treatment plan, and his ability to remain on the series, it was canceled. He continued to work on other projects while undergoing treatment and also become an advocate for finding a cure for cancer. He and his wife founded the Urich Fund for the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center for cancer research and became the national spokesperson for the American Cancer Society.

One of his career goals was to appear on Broadway and Urich was given the role of Billy in one of the revivals of Chicago the Musical in 2000. As his widow told Martelle, "It wasn't just his performance, there was a twinkle in his eye when he walked out on stage." Urich actually had a good singing voice and added to the role with his performance.

For five years, even when his cancer returned, Urich fought the disease and never gave up, believing he could beat cancer again. His family always had hope that Urich would be cancer-free and worked tirelessly to give hope to others. In November 2001, Urich revealed that his doctors had discovered lumps but cleared them up. In 2002, he was hospitalized and passed on April 16, 2002.

Ultimately, Martelle expresses in words the full story of one of the nicest people in show business, who gave back to the community, loved his family thoroughly, fought cancer, and left a legacy becoming the adopted son of Las Vegas. Dr. Ryan Urich gives high praise to the telling of his father's story, admitting that the forward hit him like a truck with its emotion. To purchase the book, click here.



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From This Author Debbie Hall