Monday, September 13, 2010
Harold Gould (1923-2010)
By Edward Copeland
Though he had a long career, Harold Gould always seemed to look the same: The thick head of white hair with the similarly colored mustache. Through his appearances on film and television, most often in comedies, he was one of our most dependable character actors. Gould died Saturday at the age of 86.
Gould actually began his public acting career rather late in life. He had a doctorate in theater and spent most of his years teaching until he turned to cameras in the 1960s. His early work consisted mostly of episodic television spanning a wide range of series such as Route 66, The Untouchables and Dennis the Menace. He also appeared twice on The Twilight Zone and once on Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Later, comedies seemed to draw him more often such as Get Smart, That Girl and Hogan's Heroes.
His first credited feature film came in 1963's The Yellow Canary starring Pat Boone and Barbara Eden.
The 1970s seemed to be his breakout decade. In the Love, American Style segment "Love and Happy Days" which would later spawn Happy Days, he was the original Howard Cunningham. His big break, in terms of notable television roles, came as Martin Morgenstern, Rhoda's father, which he played on both The Mary Tyler Moore Show and the spin-off Rhoda.
In 1973, he landed one of his biggest film roles as one of the team of con men helping to carry out The Sting with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. A year later, he played the mayor in Billy Wilder's remake of The Front Page with Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau. Two years later, he appeared in the Disney comedy The Strongest Man in the World with Kurt Russell and Woody Allen's Love and Death.
Other films from this decade include Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, Gus, The Big Bus and The One and Only. Of his many TV appearances, a particularly notable one was as Barney Gerber, Jodie's hospital roommate on Soap. Jodie (Billy Crystal) goes in to have a sex change but instead tries to commit suicide. As he's slipping out of consciousness, Gould delivers a tremendously moving and poignant monologue about the losses in Barney's life.
His work continued to be prolific in the 1980s, but he perhaps was recognized most as Rose's boyfriend Miles on The Golden Girls.
He continued to work in the 1990s in films such as My Giant, Patch Adams and the remake of Freaky Friday with Jaime Lee Curtis. His last role was on an episode of Nip/Tuck which aired Feb. 24.
RIP Mr. Gould.