Prior to his first TV appearance on a 1961 episode of Dobie Gillis, Bill Bixby had been a college student (he dropped out of UC Berkeley in his senior year), a lifeguard, a male model, and a regional stock-company actor. Bixby went on to play small roles in films like Lonely Are the Brave and Irma La Douce, and was featured in the Broadway comedy Under the Yum Yum Tree. In 1963, he graduated to TV stardom with the role of Tim O'Hara on the popular sci-fi sitcom My Favorite Martian. Anxious to change his "wholesome" image after Martian ended its three-year run in 1966, Bixby accepted a small but flashy role as a cowardly villain in the big-screen Western Ride Beyond Vengeance (1966). Like it or not, however, Bixby's future lay in sympathetic parts on episodic television. In each of his subsequent starring series -- The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1969-1972), The Magician (1973), The Incredible Hulk (1978-1982), True Confessions (1984), and Goodnight Beantown (1983) -- Bixby frequently did double-duty as actor and director. He also directed such made-for-TV movies as Barbary Coast (1974), Another Pair of Aces: Three of a Kind (1991), and the Roseanne/Tom Arnold vehicle The Woman Who Loved Elvis (1993). Long one of Hollywood's most eligible bachelors, Bixby finally took the marital plunge with actress Brenda Benet; the union ended tragically when Benet, distraught over the death of her son, Christopher, committed suicide. Bixby's second wife was Judith Kliban, daughter of magazine cartoonist B. Kliban. At the time of his death from prostate cancer, Bill Bixby was principal director of the TV series Blossom.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Graduated from San Francisco's Lowell High School, which also produced such luminaries as scientist Dian Fossey and John F. Kennedy's press secretary Pierre Salinger.
- Dropped out of college only a few credits shy of graduating.
- Made his TV debut on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis in 1961.
- Turned down the role of Marlo Thomas' boyfriend in the series That Girl.
- Was an accomplished magician.
- Landed the role of Dr. David Banner on The Incredible Hulk only after Larry Hagman turned it down.
- Publicly battled prostate cancer, which ultimately took his life in November of 1993.