David Birney, star of the TV series Bridget Loves Bernie and St. Elsewhere” and Broadway’s “Amadeus” died Friday at his home in Santa Monica, California, after a five-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 83.
The veteran actor’s death was confirmed by “partner” Michele Roberge New York Times reported.
Barley first rose to mainstream fame opposite his future wife Meredith Baxter on the 1972 CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. The show was popular — between ratings juggernauts “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “All in the Family” — but short-lived, thanks controversial protests by Jewish groups who disagreed with the “intermarriage” ofbirney’s Jewish taxi driver character Bernie Steinberg and Baxter’s Bridget Fitzgerald, a Catholic elementary school teacher from a wealthy family.
Both divorced at the time,birney and eventual matriarch “Family Ties,” who had two children from her first marriage, were actually married in 1974. The couple had three children of their own before divorcing in 1989.
Baxter later claimed that in her 2011 bombshell book, Birney was emotionally and physically abusive “Unbound: A Memoir of Family, Glory, and Despair.” He vehemently denied their claims, calling them “an appalling misuse of the truth.”
Born on April 23, 1939, to an FBI agent, Birney grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1961 with a degree in English literature and then earned his master’s degree in theater from UCLA. variety reported. After touring in the US Army and a year at the Barter Theater in Virginia,birney made his New York theater debut in The Comedy of Errors, King John and Titus Andronicus at the 1967 Shakespeare Festival for Joseph Papp.
“I only picked up the TV series because the options for actors are getting fewer and fewer,” he says told the Times at the height of his newfound TV fame 1972. “I got into it in the mid ’60s when British actors were dominating American theater and for an actor who wanted to do Shakespeare you had to steal those roles up and down the country. I’m very fortunate to be employed almost full-time, but I haven’t always done what I wanted to do…I’ll go anywhere to do Romeo anytime—you can print that out.”
After the failure of Bridget Loves Bernie,birney gained recognition for his role as John Quincy Adams in the 1976 PBS production of The Adams Chronicles. That same year he landed the role of NYC detective Frank Serpico on NBC -Series adjusted by Sidney Lumet’s 1973 film Serpico (1973), which earned Al Pacino a Best Actor Oscar nomination for the title character.
In the decades that followed, he was a familiar face on television and on stage, with a prominent role as Antonio Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s Tony-winning “Amadeus” on Broadway. He was also in the original cast of NBC’s classic medical comedy St. Elsewhere’ in 1982 and 1983, but left the hit series to pursue his role in Amadeus.
He also provided the voice of Anakin Skywalker in the 1996 NPR radio dramatization of Return of the Jedi. His last known role was a guest appearance on the 2007 CBS police procedure “Without a Trace”.
In addition to his professional achievements,r was the chairman of the American Diabetes Association for five years and, by his own admission, served on the Dartmouth College Board of Overseers for the Hopkins Center for the Performing Arts official IMDB bio.
Barley is survived by his children with Baxter – daughters Kate and Mollie Barley and a son, Peter Baxter – and a stepdaughter, Eva Bush, and a stepson, Ted Bush, Baxter’s children from a previous marriage. He also had two grandchildren and his brothers Glenn and Gregory.
https://nypost.com/2022/05/03/david-birney-st-elsewhere-bridge-loves-bernie-star-dead-at-83/ David Birney, ‘St. ‘Elsewhere’ star of ‘Bridget Loves Bernie’ dies aged 83