Character actor Richard Schaal specialized in playing everymen with off-center, over-the-top or farcical personas. Born in 1925, Schaal first took his television bow in the early '60s, as a guest star on programs such as The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, and The Doris Day Show. He also landed small roles in features including Carl Reiner's Cold War farce The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966) and George Roy Hill's nihilistic sci-fi saga Slaughterhouse-Five (1972). Fans of The Mary Tyler Moore Show may remember Schaal as Howard Arnell, the slightly goofy ex-boyfriend of Mary Richards (who irritates Mary from time to time by cropping up and engaging in eccentric behavior, such as proposing marriage to her over the loudspeakers at a gymnasium).
Schaal also turned up on the two spin-offs of Mary Tyler Moore -- Rhoda and Phyllis; on the former, he played klutzy alcoholic Charlie Burke, while on the latter, he played the (comparatively more together) commercial photographer Leo Heatherton. Subsequent assignments for Schaal included small roles in the features Americathon (1979), The Hollywood Knights (1980), and Once Bitten (1985). He was married for a lengthy period to actress Valerie Harper (Rhoda) and is the father of actress Wendy Schaal. ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi