Actor David Groh, who played Joe Gerard on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" spin-off "Rhoda" has died after battling kidney cancer. He was 68. For my friends who are not yet growing long of tooth as I am, "Rhoda" was a really popular show back in the day. I remember watching the episode where Rhoda and Joe got married - it got amazing ratings. Shockingly, for American audiences of the 70s, the characters eventually divorced. That was an era of all sorts of firsts on TV. Hell, now I can't think of a single show that doesn't have divorce in it somewhere. A whole lot has changed in 30 years. A whole heck of a lot.
After the TV divorce of Rhoda and Joe happened, Groh was divorced from the show. The guy had talent, and he became one of those actors who pops up everywhere on TV. One of his performances I remember well was as a foul, vile abusive doctor in an early episode of "Law & Order." (Back in the dark ages, when there was only ONE "Law & Order"...) That particular episode featured one of their first "ripped from the headlines" plots, inspired by the horrible real-life case of the vicious murder of six-year-old Lisa Steinberg by her pseudo-guardian, attorney Joel Steinberg, while Joel's massively abused partner, Hedda Nussbaum was too messed up to do anything about it. I'll never forget the police photos of Hedda Nussbaum's permanently altered face after one episode of battery by crazy Joel. Terrifying images for a kid to see.
Well, at least for a kid in the 1980s, that is.
I imagine most American kids are immune to images like that now. Exposed to so much pixelated death and mayhem, a real-life pounding doesn't mean squat to many of them, I fear. They'd shrug it off. And that saddens me.
Another thing that saddens me? That a talented character actor's last role, while he was battling the cancer that killed him, it would appear, would be in one of the most grotesque TV commercials I've ever seen.
You see, Groh was the old dude in the creepy Skittles commercial, hooked up to a milking machine. Yep, Groh was the man flashing the man-boobies, giving up milk, apparently tainted by him eating Sour Skittles. (Are you shuddering yet?)
If you haven't tasted this particularly freakish rainbow, here it is:
And, again... yeesh.
I hope that ad paid really, really well.
And I hope Heaven isn't full of Sour Skittles.