Putting together the back copy for my newest 1955 All-American style custom football card reminded me that, as useful as the internet can be in gathering data, it is also a minefield of misinformation.
It's only been in about the last year that I became aware that 1970s-80s TV star Robert Urich had played college football at Florida State. That made him a perfect candidate for my ever-expanding checklist of '55 custom football cards.
A quick search on eBay landed me a copy of his 1991 Collecgiate Collection card, with a dynamic school publicity photo of Urich in action. That photo appears to be the only known picture of Urich as an FSU player.
The picture was really all I was able to use from that card, though, in making my own. Virtually everything that was written on the back about his Seminole career was wrong. The CC card lists him as a linebacker and as "a member of Florida State's 'Seven Magnificents.'"
In reality, Urich was a backup center, and he wasn't even on the 1964 FSU team's whose shaved-head defensive line and linebackers, the Seven Magnificents, held their opponents to just 85 points in their 9-1-1 season.
Those errors were repeated in various forms on many different web sites and a cursory Google search would have found me compounding the misinformation on my card's write-up.
Fortunately, I found a site (nolefan.org) that reproduced the Florida State Football Handbooks for that era, and was able to obtain essentially first-hand information about Urich's college gridiron days. While Urich was on the 'Noles roster for 1965 and 1966, he appears to have played only in 1965, when a knee to the helmet in the Alabama game effectively ended his playing career.
Urich had been a multi-sport star athlete at his Tornoto (Ohio, not Ontario) high school. His biology teacher there had been football coach when then-current FSU head coach Bill Peterson attended the school. Urich's teacher sent Peterson game films and Urich received a four-year football scholarship to Florida State. After he was knocked off the active roster, Urich continued to serve the team by filming its games.
Urich graduated in 1968 with a B.A. in radio/television communications, then went on to Michigan State where he received a masters degree in Broadcasting Research and Management in 1971.
Working in ad sales at WGN in Chicago, Urich connected with another former FSU football player, Burt Reynolds, who got him a stage role, then invited him to crash at his place in Los Angeles while he pursued an acting career.
In 1973, Urich became the "Bob" in the TV series Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. That role was followed up with starring roles in the series S.W.A.T., as private eye Dan Tanna in Vega$, in Soap, The Lazarus Man, and, perhaps his best-known episodic television role, as the Boston private detective with no first name in the series Spenser: For Hire, based on the novels by Robert B. Parker. In all, Urich had nearly constant work on 15 different weekly series over nearly 30 years.
He interspersed the series work with many made-for-TV movies, including the lead role as Steelers running back Rocky Bleier in Fighting Back, and as Jake Spoon in the miniseries, Lonesome Dove.
While his television commitments kept him busy, Urich found time for several significant movie roles, including Magnum Force, Ice Pirates and Turk 182!.
Urich died at the age of 55 in 2002, of synovial cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer.