American actor Mitch Ryan has died at the age of 88. He was best known for the TV series Dharma & Greg, where he played a wealthy father who didn’t understand his free-spirited daughter-in-law. He also had many supporting roles in films and TV productions.
Ryan became interested in acting when he was introduced to the entertainment department of the military as a Marine during the Korean War. With his iron jawline and robust crest, he often qualified for roles as stereotypical male man: police commissioner, general, cowboy.
After his debut in Thunder Road with Robert Mitchum and some small TV roles, his first big success was the supernatural soap opera Dark Shadows. He starred in 107 episodes, but was eventually fired for a drinking problem.
This was followed by a large number of mainly individual episodes in well-known series such as Matlock, The A-Team, The Golden Girls and Who’s the Boss. For crime series Murder, She Wrote he appeared no less than four times, each time in a different supporting role.
He boasted of having been in the running for the role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but ended up playing only William Riker’s father in Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also returned to the soap opera genre as a ruthless businessman on 36 episodes of Santa Barbara.
Lawyer and flower child
The Dutch will mainly recognize him from the five seasons of the comedy series Dharma & Greg. The point of departure for this was the hasty marriage between a somewhat shrewd lawyer and a flower child from the alternative milieu. Ryan played the patrician who didn’t understand the loose morals of his daughter-in-law and her hippie parents, but also secretly yearned to break out of his straitjacket.
Ryan also played small roles in several Hollywood films such as The Devil’s Own with Brad Pitt, Jim Carreys Liar, Liar and part of the Halloween series. He had a more supporting role as the villain in the first part of Lethal Weapon, as a former general turned drug lord.
Actress Jenna Elfman (Dharma) calls Ryan “dear, dear Mitch” on Instagram. “What a kind person. He was brilliant as Greg’s father. I loved this man. A true gentleman.”