Before finding love with husband Tony Cacciotti, Valerie Harper, who died on August 30, was married to actor and writer Richard Schaal, who passed away at age 86 on November 4, 2014. Best known for his work on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which he co-starred alongside Harper, he also wrote for the beloved series. Schaal and Harper married in 1964 and remained together until their divorce in 1978.
Born on May 5, 1928, in Chicago Illinois, he worked in construction before joined the Windy City’s infamous comedy group, Second City, in 1962. It’s there he honed is improvisational skills and acting talent, and is credited for helping create modern sketch comedy. After decades of work in the film and TV industry, starring in series such as Rhoda, Phyllis, and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and movies such as Norman Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Chicago Improv Festival in 2010.
Before Schaal married Harper, he was married to Louis Treacy, with whom he had one daughter, Wendy Schaal, who’s a prominent voice actress in Hollywood. After divorcing Harper, he was married and divorced one more time before passing away at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, California.
Here’s what you need to know about Valerie Harper’s first husband, Richard Schaal….
1. His Only Daughter Wendy Schaal is Also an Actress
Schaal is survived by one child, Wendy Schaal, with his first wife Louis Treacy, who was born on July 2, 1954. His daughter went into show business like her father, and is the voice behind the character Francine Smith on the long-running animated sitcom, American Dad. As an actress, she’s appeared on The X-Files, Six Feet Under, Boston Public, and Friends. Wendy has two sons, Adam and Victor, from her 10-year marriage to ex-husband Stephen Schwartz.
Speaking of her father’s talent to the Chicago Tribune Wendy said, “His whole body was an instrument. He was the one who really took off on working in the space. That was where the work could make the visible invisible. In his workshops, he would teach performers to explore what would happened to their body when handling objects.”
2. Schaal was Married Three Times
After his marriage to to Treacy ended, he was married to Valerie Harper in 1964. They stayed together for nearly 14 years and had an amicable split in 1978. Schaal and Harper did not have any children together, and the actress spoke publicly about how they remained friends though the divorce proceedings.
Later in life, Schaal married a third time to wife Tasha Brittain in 1980. However, they divorced in 1989.
3. Schaal Played Four Different Roles on ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show’
On The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Schaal played the role of Howard Arnell, the obnoxious ex-boyfriend of Mary Richards, and his twin brother Paul. Both characters dated Mary in separate episodes. Schaal also portrayed Chuckles the Clown on the CBS series, and in the episode entitled “I Was Single for JWM,” he played Dino.
Schaal also portrayed three separate characters on The Bob Newhart Show, where he appeared in three different episodes as Don Fezler, Don Livingston, and Chuck Brock.
4. He Starred in the Spin-Off Series ‘Rhoda’
On The Mary Tyler Moore Show spin-off series Rhoda, Schaal portrayed the role of Charlie Burke, the annoying friend of Rhoda’s husband, Joe, who was played by actor David Groh. Throughout his career, Schaal also made appearance on The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Dream of Jeannie, That Girl, Shaft, Trapper John, M.D., and The Rockford Files.
Schaal also left his mark on TV appearing on the show, Phyllis. In the short-lived series, he played Leo Leo Heatherton, a photographer who worked in the same studio as Cloris Leachman’s title character.
5. Schaal Had an Impressive Film Resume
Not limited to work on the the small screen, Schaal racked an impressive film resume during his career. In addition to Norman Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming in 1966, he appeared in George Roy Hill’s Slaughterhouse-Five in 1972, and starred alongside Lauren Hutton and Jim Carrey in the 1985 film, Once Bitten.
He worked alongside Ed Asner and Jodie Foster in O’Hara’s Wife, and appeared in The Hollywood Knights with Tony Danza and Michelle Pfeiffer.