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Rita Gould

Rita Gould

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A highly admired character actor who become forever identified as Martin Morgenstern, father of TV's "Rhoda" (Valerie Harper), the silver-haired, distinguished Harry Gould enjoyed a long and varied career. He actually played a range of roles far beyond sitcoms, including leading man to Katharine Hepburn in "Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry" (CBS, 1986) and a wonderfully manipulative Louis B. Mayer in "Moviola" (NBC, 1980), proving his versatility well into his eighties as he continued to be employed as a dependable presence in any film or television production Born Dec. 10, 1923 in Schenectady, NY, Gould actually began his career as an instructor and later a professor of acting on the university level. He made his professional stage debut in 1955, playing Thomas Jefferson in "The Common Glory" in Williamsburg, VA. It was not until 1969 that Gould made his New York City stage debut in the off-Broadway production of "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration," for which he won an OBIE Award. He later appeared in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's "Fools" and played in a host of productions at theatres throughout the U.S., including "I Never Sang for My Father" in both Washington, DC and Los...

A highly admired character actor who become forever identified as Martin Morgenstern, father of TV's "Rhoda" (Valerie Harper), the silver-haired, distinguished Harry Gould enjoyed a long and varied career. He actually played a range of roles far beyond sitcoms, including leading man to Katharine Hepburn in "Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry" (CBS, 1986) and a wonderfully manipulative Louis B. Mayer in "Moviola" (NBC, 1980), proving his versatility well into his eighties as he continued to be employed as a dependable presence in any film or television production

Born Dec. 10, 1923 in Schenectady, NY, Gould actually began his career as an instructor and later a professor of acting on the university level. He made his professional stage debut in 1955, playing Thomas Jefferson in "The Common Glory" in Williamsburg, VA. It was not until 1969 that Gould made his New York City stage debut in the off-Broadway production of "The Increased Difficulty of Concentration," for which he won an OBIE Award. He later appeared in the Broadway production of Neil Simon's "Fools" and played in a host of productions at theatres throughout the U.S., including "I Never Sang for My Father" in both Washington, DC and Los Angeles. Gould would later reprise the role of the father - originally played by Melvyn Douglas in the feature - in a 1988 PBS rendition.

Gould broke into feature films in 1962 with a small role in "The Coach." He played Sheriff Spanner in "Harper" (1966) and was Col. Nexdhet opposite Rosalind Russell in "Mrs. Polifax-Spy" (1971). With all the TV exposure he was receiving, Gould began to gain attention and land roles in features, including Mel Brooks' "Silent Movie" (1976) and "Romero" (1989). But, most of Gould's best work could be found on the small screen. He began working in guest roles in the 1960s, appearing frequently in "The Long, Hot Summer" (ABC, 1965-66), as one of the stock company of townsfolk. He was Richard Benjamin's boss on the short-lived sitcom "He and She" (CBS, 1967-68). In 1972, Gould appeared on an episode of "Love, American Style" entitled "Love and the Happy Days" as Howard Cunningham, the exasperated father of Ron Howard's Richie. But, when ABC turned the show into a series, Gould was replaced in the role by Tom Bosley.

As a pattern of note, Gould often played Jewish characters and it was not until he was cast as Martin Morgenstern in a 1972 episode of the popular series, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," that he was propelled him into the audience's consciousness. Warm, witty and loving, Gould's Martin was the perfect counterpart to Nancy Walker's overbearing Ida; the parents of Mary's best friend, Rhoda (Valerie Harper). He reprised the role the following year and again on the spin-off "Rhoda" in 1974, although he did not appear in every episode. Gould left the series to try his hand headlining "The Feather and Father Gang" (ABC, 1976-77), playing Stefanie Powers' con man father. He returned to "Rhoda" for its final season. After that, Gould appeared in several short-lived series of little consequence, including as a swinging widower in "Foot in the Door" (CBS, 1983), as grandfather to Chad Lowe's "Spencer" (NBC, 1985) and even as the owner of a deli training two African-Americans to inherit his business in "Singer & Sons" (NBC, 1990).

While none seemed to click, the prolific Gould never seemed to lack for work. He made frequent guest appearances on episodic TV, and often appeared in television movies after his debut in the genre "Ransom for a Dead Man" (NBC, 1971). He made his miniseries debut in "Washington: Behind Closed Doors" (ABC, 1977), but seemed to get meatier roles the older he got. In 1980, he played mogul Louis B. Mayer in two of the three installments of the NBC miniseries, "Moviola," earning an Emmy nomination for his efforts. In "The Silent Lovers" segment, when he destroyed the career of John Gilbert, he twirled a smirk the likes of which gave viewers the chills. And in "The Scarlett O'Hara Wars," Gould as Mayer was the manipulative father-in-law of producer David O. Selznick, making sure MGM would have a piece of "Gone with the Wind."

In 1986, Gould was a Jewish widower who wanted to wed the Christian Katharine Hepburn despite negative reactions from their respective children in "Mrs. Delafield Wants to Marry" (CBS). Gould was a married man in a retirement village who, over his wife's objections, becomes involved with a Yiddish-speaking club where he meets a new love and begins a new life in his golden years in the "Yiddish" episode of "The Sunset Gang" (PBS, 1991). He romanced Betty White's Rose Nylund as Miles Webber on the mega-popular series, "The Golden Girls" (NBC, 1985-1992). In 1996, he was in "For Hope" (ABC), Bob Saget's directorial debut based on the death of Saget's sister from scleroderma. Gould, as expected, played the father.

By the turn of the millennium, Gould had graduated to grandfather-like roles in films such as "Stuart Little" (1999), "Master of Disguise" (2002) and Disney's 2003 remake of "Freaky Friday." Never one to rest on his laurels, the highly employable character actor refused to retire, landing television guest appearances on hip series like "The King of Queens" (CBS, 1998-2007), "Felicity" (The WB, 1998-2002), and in his final screen performance, "Nip/Tuck" (FX, 2003-2010). After a long, impressive career, the esteemed actor passed away on Sept. 11, 2010 of prostate cancer.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 The Big Combo (1955) Nurse
2.
 The Mating of Millie (1948) Miss Smythe
3.
 The Vicious Circle (1948) Ethel Mihaly
4.
 The Naughty Nineties (1945) Water gag
5.
 I'll Tell the World (1945) Prissy woman
6.
7.
 Her Lucky Night (1945) Fannie
8.
 The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944) Mother
9.
 South of Dixie (1944) Woman
10.
 An American Romance (1944) Merchant's wife
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