Robert’s love of acting began on the stage of Scarsdale High School which is in Westchester County just north of New York City. He enjoyed the spotlight in four or five productions before he graduated in 1959. He went on to Ohio Wesleyan University where his acting talents were put on the back burner temporarily while he slogged away in the trenches of a pre-med education pursuing what he thought was his chosen career, that of a doctor.
After graduation in 1963, Robert spent part of the summer appearing in a dreadful production of some long forgotten play on Nantucket Island. As luck would have it, playwright Robert Anderson (“I Never Sang for My Father,” “Tea and Sympathy,” “I Can’t Hear You When the Water’s Running”) happened to see him in this play and since Mr. Anderson was a family friend, mentioned he would be happy to lend his assistance should Robert want to pursue an acting career. Goodbye medicine, hello show business.
In the spring of 1964, after phone calls, interviews and screen tests, Robert’s life had really taken a new path. He had an agent, was under contract to Universal Studios and living in Beverly Hills. Not a bad beginning.
Robert’s life at Universal lasted for three years where he guested on all their TV shows like “The Virginian,” “Wagon Train,” “Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre,” “Kraft Suspense Theatre,” and numerous sitcoms. He also appeared in five motion pictures, most notable of which was “Munster, Go Home,” based on the TV show which plays regularly around Halloween.
After Universal, Robert went on to be one of the busiest working actors in Hollywood guesting on most of the TV shows, continuing to do movies including “The Graduate” and “Day of the Locust” and appearing in many plays portraying such diverse roles as Trigorin in Chekov’s “The Seagull,” Cleante in Moliere’s “The Imaginary Invalid,” singing Curly in “Oklahoma” and Marcelo in “La Boheme.” Interspersed throughout this activity were many, many commercials.
In 1976 Robert landed the part of Paul Sorvino’s sidekick in “Bert D’Angelo/Superstar,” a Quinn Martin series for ABC. Alas, it had a short life of only 12 episodes appearing opposite Carol Burnett on CBS. However, in 1977 the ‘Genie of Success’ shown her warm glow on Robert in the form of Sgt. Joe Getraer, that wry, no nonsense, by-the-book cop on the successful, long-running NBC series, “CHiPs.” During this Robert was able to expand his experience by directing some episodes of the show. Since it’s conclusion in 1983, “CHiPs” has continued to play non-stop in syndication and cable.
After “CHiPs,” Robert has continued to remain active. Go to the credit section of this website for a complete list of his work in television and films.
Robert has also remained active doing theatre, mainly in Los Angeles with the Antaeus Theatre Ensemble which focuses on classical works from Shakespeare, Shaw & Ibsen to Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and Caryl Churchill. Antaeus is moving into a brand new home in Glendale in August of 2016 which is very exciting for the company. It will provide two performing spaces and ample rehearsal space and added room for The Academy which teaches a new generation of classical actors. You can look it up on anteus.org.
Robert enjoys playing tennis and is a regular participant in tournaments to raise money for various charities. He admits to being a lousy golfer and takes part in only two tournaments a year. One is the 11-99 Foundation which is charity to benefit the families of slain or wounded officers of the California Highway Patrol, an organization for which he holds a great fondness and admiration for since his CHiPs days. The other is the SAG-AFTRA Foundation which provides help and assistance for actors in need, as well as services for all actors and different outreach programs providing help to the community at large. He is also a National Board member of the SAG-AFTRA actors union.
Through the greater part of his career, Robert has had the good fortune of
being married to Gwynne Gilford, a former actress and writer and now a psychotherapist. Fans of “CHiPs” will remember her as Betty Getraer, Robert’s on-screen wife as well. Although “CHiPs” only lasted six years, their marriage is now nearing the 47 year mark. During those years they have been blessed with two wonderful children, Katie and Chris. Katie has a Masters degree in Clinical Psychology and has a thriving practice. And Chris has followed his dad into acting where he is pursuing a very successful career in his own right. Chris is actually third generation show biz since his grandmother, Gwynne’s mom, is Anne Gwynne, who was under contract to Universal back in the late 30’s and early 40’s where she appeared in over 60 pictures.
Robert thanks you for visiting his website and hopes you will visit again for an update on his current activities.