David Birney, St. Elsewhere and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Actor, Dead at 83
05/03/2022 03:05 pm EDT
David Birney, the character actor best known his roles on Bridget Loves Bernie and St. Elsewhere, has passed away. He was 83 years old. Birney also had roles in Without a Trace, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Sliders. He spent much of his career on the stage, where he won numerous awards, and carried his theatrical presence along with him when he voiced Anakin Skywalker in BBC's radio drama based on Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. His likable, clean-cut presence got a little edge in the 1970s, where he played the role of Frank Serpico in a TV adaptation of the acclaimed Al Pacino movie.
Birney was born in Washington, D.C. on April 23, 1939, and eventually graduated from West High School in Cleveland, where he lettered in basketball, football and track. studied English literature at Dartmouth College, and started getting serious about acting at UCLA, where he earned an M.A. in Theatre Arts. He was later awarded an honorary PhD. in Humanities from Southern Utah University. Birney died of Alzheimer's, according to The New York Times, who was informed of his passing by Birney's life partner, Michele Roberge.
Birney served in the Army, and while there, won an All Army Entertainment contest and received the 'Barter Theatre Award' in 1965, which led to him spending the next season with the Barter Theatre, which is the State Theatre of Virginia, starring in fifteen shows, and directing two others, before becoming a journeyman stage actor starring in productions off Broadway and in regional theatres around the country.
Later, he would make his way to Broadway, where he had a storied career including roles in Amadeus and Man and Superman. He also performed Shakespeare in the Park in New York, and would continue to tour the country performing in Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and other regional theatres.
All along the way, he continued to work on stage and screen, including bringing some of his stage work to the screen on American Playhouse. TV roles that brought him into the homes of Americans included Bridget Loves Bernie, a show about an interfaith romance, in which he starred alongside Meredith Baxter. The pair were married in real life after the series' cancellation. The pair were married for more tan 15 years before divorcing in 1989, with Baxter later alleging that Birney was physically and emotionally abusive during their relationship. Together, they had three children: Kate, Mollie, and Peter. Birney's Alzheimer's diagnosis was made public in 2017 in the Dartmouth alumni newsletter, Wide Wide World.
Our condolences to Birney's family, friends, collaborators, and fans.
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