(CNN) -- Robert Urich, the versatile television actor who starred in at least 15 shows over his 30-year career, died Tuesday of cancer. He was 55.
Urich died in Thousand Oaks, California, surrounded by family and friends, according to publicist Cindy Guagenti. The actor announced in 1996 that he was suffering from synovial cell sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks the body's joints, and underwent several treatments to fight the cancer during the last years of his life.
Urich was an almost constant presence on television during his career. In fact, according to the trivia book "10,000 Answers: The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia" (Random House Reference, 2001), Urich holds the record for starring in the most TV shows, with 15.
Robert Urich's standing as one of TV's most prolific actors is borne out in highlights of his career starting in 1973.
EW.com: All About Robert Urich
His credits include "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice" (1973); "S.W.A.T" (1975-'76); "Soap" (for its first season, 1977-'78); "Vega$" (1978-'81); and "Spenser: For Hire" (1985-'88).
Among his most recent roles: the captain on "Love Boat: The Next Wave" and a talent agent on the short-lived sitcom "Emeril."
The actor also appeared in a handful of theatrical films, including "Magnum Force" (1973) and "Turk 182!" (1985).
First co-star: Burt Reynolds
Urich posed in character for this 1987 photo for the ABC show "Spenser: For Hire."
Robert Urich was born in Toronto, Ohio, on December 19, 1946. A star athlete in high school, he won a football scholarship to Florida State University, where he took a bachelor's degree in communications. He later earned a master's degree from Michigan State in broadcast research and management, and went to work in the broadcasting business as a salesman for Chicago's WGN.
After a short stint as a TV weatherman, he received his break as an actor when Burt Reynolds, another Florida State alum, helped him land a role playing Reynolds' younger brother onstage in a production of Richard Nash's "The Rainmaker."
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