David Birney, St. Elsewhere and Bridget Loves Bernie actor, dies at 83
David Birney, the television, film, and stage star best known for his role as Bernie Steinberg in the short-lived sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie, died Friday in Santa Monica after a five-year battle with Alzheimer's. He was 83.
Birney's life partner Michele Roberge confirmed the news to the New York Times.
Born in Washington D.C. and raised in Cleveland, Birney attended Dartmouth College and UCLA where he majored in English literature and theater, respectively. After touring with the U.S. Army (where he was part of a troupe that entertained military bases), Birney began his theater career, spending a season at the acclaimed Barter Theater in Virginia before graduating to the Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut. He made his New York stage debut in New York Shakespeare Festival production of A Comedy of Errors.
Birney's Broadway debut came in 1969 when he performed in Molière's The Miser. He went on to star in numerous stage productions, including The Playboy of the Western World and Amadeus on Broadway, as well as Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, and A Moon for the Misbegotten in regional theater.
In 1972, he found fame in television as the husband of Meredith Baxter (who would go on to be his future real-life wife) in the CBS sitcom Bridget Loves Bernie. While the show itself was short-lived due to controversial protests about the couple's interfaith marriage, Birney went on to have a successful career on the small screen, earning acclaim for his role in the first season of the medical dramedy St. Elsewhere. His last known television role was in 2007, when he guested on the police procedural Without A Trace.
Birney also spent time adapting Mark Twain's stories into a play called The Diaries of Adam and Eve, which he wrote, directed, and starred for PBS alongside Baxter, who he married in 1974 and later divorced in 1989.
In addition to Baxter, Birney is survived by daughters Kate and Mollie Birney; son Peter Baxter; stepdaughter, Eva Bush; stepson, Ted Bush; two grandchildren, and brothers Glenn and Gregory.