LOS ANGELES (AP) - David Groh, the handsome, hardworking character actor who was best known to television viewers as the easygoing man Rhoda Morgenstern married and divorced during the run of Valerie Harper's hit 1970s sitcom "Rhoda," has died. He was 68.
Groh died Tuesday of kidney cancer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, his sister-in-law Catherine Mullally told The Associated Press on Thursday. Groh's wife, Kristin Andersen, was by his side.
Divorce was not a subject generally addressed on television in the 1970s, and when Groh's character, Joe Gerard, and Harper's Rhoda Morgenstern split up during the show's third season, viewers were stunned. Their marriage had resulted in one of the show's highest-rated episodes, and when they split people sent them condolence cards.
The show had begun in 1974 as a spinoff from television's hugely popular "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," which was set in Minneapolis. "Rhoda" had Harper's character moving back home to New York City, where she met and married Joe.
Groh's stunning good looks and real-life good nature were key to helping him win the part of her TV husband, Harper said Thursday.
"We looked all over and he finally came on the scene," Harper told the AP. "I read every cute guy of a certain age in Hollywood and he was the one. ... I enjoyed very much working with him. He was a lovely, lovely guy."
Groh, who left the series after the divorce episodes, went on to appear in dozens of TV shows and films, as well as on Broadway, over the next 30 years.
He portrayed the nefarious D.L. Brock on the daytime soap opera "General Hospital" from 1983 to 1985 and had recurring roles on "Baywatch," "Law & Order" and other shows.
His film credits included "Get Shorty," "Two Minute Warning" and "Broken Vow," and he appeared on Broadway in Neil Simon's "Chapter Two" and Jon Tolin's "Twilight of the Golds."
Groh was born May 21, 1939, in New York City and attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright scholarship. After a stint in the U.S. Army
, he returned to New York to study at the Actors Studio.
He appeared in the television shows "Dark Shadows" and "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" in the 1960s before landing "Rhoda."
He was written out of the show, Harper said, when the producers decided "Rhoda" worked better with its star as a single woman.
"We all felt very bad about David not continuing," she said, adding the two remained lifelong friends.
In recent years, Groh appeared in independent films and had been developing a film called "Lower East Side Story" with his wife.
Aside from Andersen, he is survived by his son, Spencer Groh, his mother, Mildred, and his sister, Marilyn Mamann.
Memorial services are pending.
Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press