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Schenectady’s Harold Gould: From Humble Beginnings to Hollywood Star

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Harold Gould: Schenectady Native and Beloved Character Actor

A Half Century of Memorable Roles

Harold Gould. Photo Courtesy mptvimages.comFew actors can boast of a flourishing career that spans half a century. Harold Gould, however, found long-lasting success as an actor in Hollywood and beyond from the 1960s until the early 2000s. Appearing in hundreds of movies, TV shows, and plays over the course of his life, Gould became a familiar presence in movie theaters, on television, and on Broadway and Off-Broadway stages. And, interestingly, despite his eventual fame and move to L.A., Gould spent a significant part of his life in Upstate New York.

Gould, whose birth name was Harold V. Goldstein, was born on December 10th, 1923 in Schenectady to Louis and Lillian Goldstein. He was raised in Colonie and developed a love for theater at an early age. His parents, however, encouraged him to pursue a more stable career and after graduating from high school he enrolled at Albany Teachers College (now SUNY Albany) to pursue a career as an English or Social Studies teacher.

Gould left college after two years to join the Army during World War II. He was assigned to a mortar platoon, a division of the US infantry, and saw combat in France. After the war, Gould returned to college and completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1947. He went on to study drama and speech at Cornell University, where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1948 and a PhD in theater in 1953.

After graduating from Cornell, Gould accepted a teaching position at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia. Three years later, he was offered a position as a professor in the drama department at the University of California at Riverside. After teaching for about 6 years, Gould decided to pursue a professional acting career himself.

Though he struggled to find acting jobs at first, Gould eventually found success in television. He appeared on “Dennis the Menace,” “Route 66,” “The Donna Reed Show,” “Hazel,” “Mister Ed,” “Dr. Kildare,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Fugitive,” and “Hogan’s Heroes” in the 1960s and went on to play roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Rhoda” (Martin Morgenstern), “Hawaii Five-O” (as gangster Honore Vashon), and “The Love Boat” (Vernon Crowler) in the 1970s.

During the 1980s, Gould played various TV roles, including Ben Sprague on “Spencer,” Dr. Victor Kosciusko on “Trapper John, M.D.,” and Jonah Foot on “Foot in the Door.” He also appeared on “St. Elsewhere,” “Webster,” and “L.A. Law.” In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Gould played what is likely one of his best-known parts: Miles Webber on the sitcom “The Golden Girls.” He also appeared on “Dallas,” Lois and Clark,” “Touched by an Angel,” and “Felicity” during the 1990s, and on “The King of Queens,” “Judging Amy,” and “Cold Case” in the early 2000s.

While appearing on numerous TV shows over the course of his career, Gould also acted in plays and secured many movie roles. He appeared in King Lear at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in 1992, and in Jules Feiffer’s Grown Ups, Neil Simon’s Fools, Richard Baer’s Mixed Emotions, and Tom Stoppard’s Artist Descending a Staircase on Broadway. Off-Broadway, he acted in John Guare’s The House of Blue Leaves and in Vaclav Havel’s The Increased Difficulty of Concentration. More recently, he starred in productions of Viagara Falls and Tuesdays with Morrie. His filmography includes The Sting, Woody Allen’s Love and Death, Silent Movie, and more recently Patch Adams, Stuart Little, Freaky Friday and Brother Bear.

Though he chose to pursue a career as an actor somewhat later than most―leaving academia to pursue acting at age 37―Gould found much success and certainly left a lasting impression on film, theater, and television. His peers recognized him as “a fine actor,” and “one of the loveliest gentlemen” who was “so good at what he did.” Sadly, in 2010, at the age of 86, Gould died of prostate cancer. Though his career has come to an end, the legacy he created over the last half a century will surely live on for many years to come.

Jessica Venezia is a Contributor to The Free George.

The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.

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