( b. May 05, 1928 Chicago, Illinois, USA - d. Nov 04, 2014 Woodland Hills, California, USA ) Male
Richard Schaal was an actor, writer and first-generation member of Second City, the Chicago improvisational theater company that sparked a new comedy movement in America.
Mr. Schaal was probably most familiar to the general public for his recurring appearances on hit television shows like "The Dick Van Dyke Show" in the 1960s, "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the 1970s and the Moore show's spinoffs "Phyllis," starring Cloris Leachman, and "Rhoda," starring Valerie Harper, whom he met at Second City and later married. Among his best-known roles was Charlie Burke, an annoying friend of Rhoda's husband, on "Rhoda." He was also the original Chuckles the Clown on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," in an episode in which Chuckles, in full clown regalia, must deliver the results of a mayoral election on the fictional television station where the show was set.
He appeared in several movies, including "The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming" (1966), directed by Norman Jewison, and "Slaughterhouse-Five" (1972), directed by George Roy Hill.
Mr. Schaal (pronounced "shawl") joined Second City shortly after it was formed. It was established in late 1959 by Paul Sills, who had earlier helped begin the careers of Elaine May, Mike Nichols and Shelley Berman, among others, as director of another improvisational company, the Compass Players.
Mr. Schaal, who had studied with Mr. Sills's mother, Viola Spolin, considered the founder of the improvisational theater movement, joined a cast that would eventually include Alan Alda, Alan Arkin, David Steinberg, Joan Rivers and, later, future "Saturday Night Live" cast members like John Belushi, Gilda Radner and Bill Murray.
In comedy-sketch parlance, Mr. Schaal was known as a "space man," a term that usually refers to the player in the troupe best suited for mime and physical comedy, as opposed to the highly verbal wit employed by the majority of the cast. But Mr. Schaal's mime had a down-to-earth, blue-collar style that differentiated it from most mimes, said Jeffrey Sweet, the author of "Something Wonderful Right Away," a history of the early years of Second City.
After he and Ms. Harper were married in 1964 -- his second marriage, her first -- they were part of a touring Second City company that also included Mr. Steinberg and Linda Lavin, which performed in Canada. The couple then moved to New York, where they worked in nightclubs both together and separately, and wrote many comedy sketches, one of which (about a love triangle involving a gorilla) was transformed into a 1970 episode of the ABC series "Love, American Style."
After undergoing spinal surgery in the late 1990s, Mr. Schaal used a motorized wheelchair in his work, spinning left and right by manual switch as he spoke from a stage as a director or when teaching classes. In the 2000s, he lived and worked in Tampa Bay, Fla., where he founded and directed an improvisational cabaret theater.
Source: The New York Times obituary