Harold Gould, M.A. ’48, Ph.D ’53, one of Hollywood’s consistent character actors for over four decades, passed away in his home in Woodland Hills, California on Sept. 11. Gould was 86.
After serving a stint in World War II, where Gould fought in France, the upstate New York-bred stage actor graduated from the University at Albany, SUNY with a bachelor of arts degree. Gould entered Cornell to study drama and speech, graduating with a masters in 1948. Gould eventually achieved a Ph.D. in theatre in 1953, serving as a lecturer for drama and literature and meeting his wife Lea Shampanier B.A. ’48, M.A. ‘53 along the way. Gould would act alongside his wife, whose stage name was Lea Vernon, in a Cornell production of Death of a Salesman, where they played the two lead characters of Willy and Linda Vernon, respectively.
Gould, who had graduated from Albany with the interest of being an English or history teacher, went on to Randolph-Macon College to teach, performing stage work on the side. He eventually moved on to a professorship at the University of California — Riverside, where he taught until 1960. It was then that he decided to take the full leap into professional acting.
After facing the common problem of not finding work in his initial months as a professional actor, he had his first credited role in a film was 1962’s Two for the Seesaw, according to IMDB.com. Throughout the 1960’s, he found steady work in TV and film, including popular shows such as The Untouchables, The Twilight Zone, Hogan’s Heroes and Dennis the Menace.
Some of his most memorable work include his portrayal of conman Kid Twist in the 1973 Robert Redford classic The Sting. Around the same period, he became known for his role of Rhoda on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Gould continued to enjoy big and small screen success throughout the 1980’s, portraying the boyfriend of Betty White’s character on The Golden Girls.
Into the 1990’s and 2000’s, he continued to act in high-profile films, including Freak Friday and Stuart Little. Throughout the course of his long career, he was generally known to play silver-haired ‘gentlemen’ characters, and collected five Emmy nominations.