Friday, December 29, 2017
I Remember Heather Menzies
I first met the wonderful movie and TV actress Heather Menzies on an American Air flight from Toronto to Los Angeles.
I was proceeding to the annual TV Critics convention and she was accompanying her husband actor Bob Urich as he flew down to speak to the TCA on behalf of his latest series Gavilan.
That would be in the summer of 1982 and Urich was his usual suave self before the TV critics.
But Gavilan folded quickly --a mere 10 episodes as I remember.
It became a standing joke with Heather that she'd bump into me as we boarded flights to L.A.
On one return trip around that time she was with Urich and seating was scarce so their little boy sat beside me.
It was in August but he was all excited about going to Toronto and their cottage in Muskoka because the last time he'd been there it was snowing.
So Heather had to patiently exclaim this was not possible in August.
I met the Urichs again in Toronto in 1987 when Bob was co-starring in the miniseries Amerika.
Then he really scored in the series Spenser: For Hire which ran for three seasons
Spenser was revived as a series of TV flicks beginning in 1994--it was shot in Toronto..
I was on the set one day to chat with my friend Wendy Crewson and Urich invited me to stay over and chew the fat at lunch.
Urich was always working while Heather had put her acting career on hold to look after the children.
I think the last time I met her was at 20th Century Fox and she was with Robert Wagner and Lew Ayres in a quickly cancelled series titled Lime Street (1985) --but that series was quickly cancelled and her episode never aired.
The thing is Heather put her career on hold for long periods.
I remember kidding her that she was born in Toronto (in 1949) and Bob was also born in Toronto --Toronto, Ohio.
Her family moved to the U.S. in 1960 when she was 11 and she attended Hollywood High School.
She auditioned for and got the role of Louisa von Trapp in the 1965 classic The Sound Of Music and she dutifully attended all the subsequent reunions.
Then came a change of pace when she romped in the nude in a 1973 Playboy pictorial.
Also in 1973 she was in the trash classic SSssssssss as Strother Martin's daughter.
I was on the set of the 1977 MGM TV series Logan's Run but I have no recollection of meeting her although she was the co-star.
She met Urich when both were making a TV commercial and she appeared in most of his series including Vegas and Spenser For Hire.
When Urich announced in 1996 he had been diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare cancer attacking soft tissue, Menzies stood by him and he was declared cancer free in 1998.
But he succumbed in 2002 and his ashes were buried on the family farm in Prince Edward County, Ontario.
By this time Heather was battling ovarian cancer and she died on Christmas Eve 2017 surrounded by the three Urich children.
I should have kept in better touch in recent years. But I didn't.