Emmy-winning actor Richard Mulligan, best known for starring in the long-running sitcoms “Soap” and “Empty Nest,” died Tuesday at his home in Hollywood following a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 67.
A native New Yorker born and raised in the Bronx, Mulligan had planned to become a priest before embarking on a nearly 40-year career in show business. He began as an aspiring writer then fell into acting when he was drafted into playing a role at a rehearsal while trying to sell a play.
Mulligan found fame during the 1970s portraying Burt Campbell on the quirky television series “Soap.” He won an Emmy for the role in 1980.
On “Empty Nest” Mulligan played Dr. Harry Weston, a widower with grown daughters. He garnered another Emmy in 1989 for “Nest.”
Among the highlights of Mulligan’s career was performing on stage with James Stewart in “Harvey” and working with director Blake Edwards in “S.O.B.,” in which he co-starred with Julie Andrews and William Holden. Mulligan also was featured in 1969’s “The Undefeated” with John Wayne and Rock Hudson.
Additional film credits included “Little Big Man” (1970), “Trail of the Pink Panther” (1982), “Meatballs, Part II” (1984), “Micki and Maude” (1984) and “The Heavenly Kid” (1985).
In 1997, he starred with Shirley Jones, Edward Asner, Valerie Harper and Markie Post in the Family Channel’s “Dog’s Best Friend,” about a young boy befriended by a pack of barnyard animals.
Mulligan is survived by his son, James, and brothers Robert, a movie director, and James.