Richard Mulligan (November 13, 1932 – September 26, 2000) was an American television and film actor best known for his role as Burt Campbell in the 1970s sitcom Soap and later as Dr. Harry Weston on The Golden Girls and its spin-off Empty Nest.
He was born in New York City, the younger brother of director Robert Mulligan. After attending Columbia University, Mulligan began working in theatre, making his debut as a stage manager and performer on Broadway in All the Way Home in 1960. Additional theatre credits included A Thousand Clowns, Never Too Late, Hogan's Goat, and Thieves.
Mulligan starred with Mariette Hartley in the 1966-67 season comedy series the Hero, in which he played TV star Sam Garret, who in turn starred on a fictional series as Jed Clayton, U.S. Marshal. The Hero lasted only 16 episodes. Another notable TV appearance was on the I Dream of Jeannieepisode "Around the World in 80 Blinks", as a navy commander accompanying Maj. Nelson (Larry Hagman) on a mission.
Mulligan's most notable film role was as General Custer in Little Big Man, whom he portrayed as a borderline psychotic. He also appeared in the disaster movie spoof The Big Bus (1976), where he was reunited with Larry Hagman, with whom he starred in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie (see above). As for his radio work, he starred in the adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Oblong Box" heard on The CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1975). In the comedy-drama Teachers, he partially reprised his Custer role from Little Big Man, portraying a mental patient mistaken for a substitute teacher, who dresses up as various historical figures (including Abe Lincoln, Ben Franklin and Custer in his final scene) to teach his pupils, who learn more from him than from the actual teachers.
In 1983, he was cast as Reggie Potter in the television series Reggie, a loose adaptation of The Fall And Rise Of Reginald Perrin, but the adaptation failed to capture the essence of the original, and ran for only one season.
His best-known roles in television were as Burt Campbell in the sitcom Soap, for which he won a Best Actor Emmy Award, and as Dr. Harry Weston in the NBC series Empty Nest, a spinoff ofThe Golden Girls. Empty Nest ran for seven seasons, and Mulligan won a Best Actor Emmy Award as well as a Golden Globe Award for his performance. He also played Secretary of State William Seward in the 1988 made for TV movie, "Gore Vidal's Lincoln."
Mulligan returned to perform on Broadway and in films, in which he usually played supporting roles. A notable exception was the 1981 black comedy S.O.B., in which he played lead character Felix Farmer, a Hollywood producer-director modeled on the film's actual producer-director, Blake Edwards. The film again featured Larry Hagman.
He also played in "Night of the Meek", an episode of The New Twilight Zone in 1986, where he took on the role of Santa Claus in the remake of the 1959 Christmas episode The Night of the Meek, taking over the same character that actor Art Carney did in the older version.
He appeared in Disney's 1988 film, Oliver & Company, as the voice of the oafish Great Dane, ironically named Einstein. His final performance was a voice over on Hey Arnold in 2000 as the voice of Jimmy Kafka, the long mentioned but never seen former friend of Arnold's Grandpa.
Mulligan married four times. He was first married to Patricia Jones from 1955 to 1960, with whom he had a son, James. That was followed by marriages to Joan Hackett from January 3, 1966, to June 1973 and Lenore Stevens from 1978 to 1990. His last marriage was to adult film actress Rachel Ryan on April 27, 1992, which lasted two years.
After making his last appearance in an episode of Hey Arnold!, on September 26, 2000, Mulligan died of colorectal cancer at his home in Los Angeles, California. At his own request, he was cremated and there was no funeral service. Mulligan was survived by his son James Mulligan from his first marriage, and two brothers, Robert and James.
Mulligan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6777 Hollywood Blvd.