Actor Richard Burgi is famous among television viewers for his roles of Detective Jim Ellison on the UPN series “The Sentinel” (1996-1999) and Susan's former husband, Karl Mayer, on the ABC mega hit “Desperate Housewives” (2004-2010). He jointly received a Screen Actors Guild nomination for his performance in the latter show. His television credits also include regular roles on soap operas like “Another World” (1986-1988), “One Life to Live” (1988), “As the World Turns” (1988-1989) and “Days of Our Lives” (1992-1993) and the primetime shows “One West Waikiki” (1994) and “Point Pleasant” (2005). He also had recurring roles on “Viper” (1994), “The District” (2000-2003), “24” (2001-2002), “Judging Amy” (2002), “Las Vegas” (2007) and “Harper's Island” (2009). On the big screen, Burgi has acted in such films as “Cellular” (2004), “Fun with Dick” (2005), “In Her Shoes” (2005), “Hostel: Part II” (2007) and “Friday the 13th” (2009).
Burgi has been married to Lori Kahn since 1995. They have two sons together. He was once romantically involved with his “Another World” costar Anne Heche.
Childhood and Family:
Richard William Burgi was born on July 30, 1958, in Montclair, New Jersey. He grew up in an artistic family that was interested in the performing arts and involved in local community theater. His first acting experience came in high school when an old girlfriend gave him a part in a play she directed.
After traveling the United States and Europe, he ended up in New York City where he was a squash pro at the Manhattan Squash Club. He also took on construction jobs to make ends meet. During this period, he began attending acting classes and landing commercials and cameos. It was not until he was 28 that Richard eventually decided to become a professional actor. In addition to acting, Richard also developed a strong interest in music and with his older brother, Chuck (a drummer), played in various bands.
On November 25, 1995, Richard married Lori Kahn. The couple has two sons, Jack Charles Burgi and Samuel Burgi. Son Jack was born in Vancouver, Canada, while Richard was working on “The Sentinel.”
While living in New York City, Richard Burgi made his television debut as a regular on the NBC daytime drama “Another World” where he played Chad Rollo from 1986 to 1988. It was followed by regular stints in the soap operas “As the World Turns” (CBS) and “One Life to Live” (ABC). In 1989, he appeared in a failed TV series pilot titled “Chameleons.” Burgi later relocated to Los Angeles to pursue other opportunities.
In the early 1990s, Burgi landed guest roles in television series like “The Flash,” “Empty Nest,” “Anything But Love,” “Matlock,” “Jake and the Fatman,” “Who's the Boss,” “Nurses,” “Mann & Machine” and “Love & War.” He returned to the soap opera realm when he joined the cast of the long running daytime drama “Days of Our Lives” as Phillip Collier, a role he played between 1992 and 1993. Burgi was then cast in the sequel of the “Flash” series, “Flash III: Deadly Nightshade,” which went straight to video in 1992, and appeared with Jenny Robertson, Nick Mancuso and Ed Flanders in the television film adaptation of Danielle Steel's “Message from Nam” (1993), playing Major Hammer.
In 1994, Burgi landed a recurring role on the NBC series “Viper,” starring James McCaffrey and Dorian Harewood. It was also in 1994 that he had his first starring role in the television series “One West Waikiki,” opposite Cheryl Ladd, Kayla Blake and Paul Gleason. The show ran on CBS between 1994 and 1996 and was nominated for a 1995 Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series. The same year, he also guest starred in an episode of the NBC hit sitcom “Seinfeld.” In 1995, he received a supporting role in “Payback,” a thriller directed by Anthony Hickox, written by Sam Bernard and starring C. Thomas Howell, Joan Severance and Marshall Bell.
Burgi returned to series television starring in the Canadian produced science fiction drama “The Sentinel,” opposite Garett Maggart, Bruce A. Young and Kelly Curtis. Premiering on UPN on March 20, 1996, the series, which was created by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, ran for three seasons before being canceled by UPN. The cancellation led to an intense fan campaign and UPN gave the show another half season. The final episode aired on May 24, 1999. Commenting about the cancellation of “The Sentinel,” he stated, “I don't think it was abrupt. I think they were doing these packages of 65 episodes for shows and it met a certain criteria and once that was fulfilled, I think it was just a business decision. Good or bad, it was just a decision.”
Meanwhile, Burgi also appeared in episodes of “It's True” (1998) and “Touched by an Angel” (1999) and starred with Susan Walters in the TV film “I Married a Monster” (1998). In 1999, he portrayed Cole Riccardi in two episodes (included the pilot) of the Fox short lives series “Action.”
In the new millennium, Burgi guest starred in television series like “Veronica's Closet,” “Providence,” “Just Shoot Me” (all 2000), “Twice in a Lifetime,” “The Wild Thornberrys” (as the voice of poacher #1, both 2001) and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” (2002). He also costarred with Linda Hamilton in the Emmy Award nominated television movie “Bailey's Mistake” (2001) and as Bud Blue in the TV film “Trash” (2003), opposite Mike Erwin and Lisa Blount. In addition, Burgi was cast in the recurring role of Captain Vincent Hunter on the CBS series “The District,” which he held between 2000 and 2003, and played Alan York and Kevin Carroll in 11 episodes of the popular Fox show “24” from 2001 and 2002. In 2002, he joined the cast of the hit CBS drama “Judging Amy” in the recurring role of Michael Cassidy.
One memorable moment came in 2004 when Burgi was cast as Susan’s (played by Teri Hatcher) offensive ex-husband, Karl Mayer, on the ABC popular series “Desperate Housewives,” starring Teri Hatcher, Felicity Huffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria. He began as a guest role in the first season and progressed to a regular cast member the next season, which premiered on September 25, 2005. He would remain with the series until early 2010. Burgi shared a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for his work on the show.
2004 also saw Burgi appear in the TV films “Darklight” and “Torn Apart” and the straight-to-video “Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation.” He then played Detective Francis Kirk in the horror movie “Decoys,” which starred Corey Sevier, Stefanie von Pfetten and Kim Poirier, and costarred with Chris Evans, Kim Basinger, Jason Statham, Eric Christian Olsen, Eric Etebari, Noah Emmerich and William H. Macy in the David R. Ellis directed thriller “Cellular.”
In 2005, Burgi was cast in the television series “Point Pleasant,” which premiered on Fox on January 19, 2005. The show, however, was soon canceled. Meanwhile on the big screen, Burgi portrayed Joe Cleeman in the remake “Fun with Dick” (2005), starring Jim Carrey and Tea Leoni, Nick in “Wheelmen” (2005), a comedy starring Lisa Arturo, James Avery and Elya Baskin, and Jim Danvers in the Curtis Hanson directed film adaptation of Jennifer Weiner's novel “In Her Shoes” (2005), starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine. The next year, he portrayed Michael Johnson in “Shanghai Red,” opposite Vivian Wu and Kenny Bee.
In 2007, Burgi appeared in four episodes of the NBC series “Las Vegas” in the role of Vince Peterson. He also guest starred in TV shows like “Eyes,” “Shark” and “Big Shots” and in the TV films “The Call” and “In God's Country.” In addition, he played Todd in Eli Roth's “Hostel: Part II” (2007), the sequel to the 2006 film about a torture ring in Europe.
Between 2008 and 2010, Burgi made guest appearances in many television series, including “Reaper,” “Knight Rider,” “Nip/Tuck” (as Dr. Logan Taper), “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” and “Lie to Me.” In 2009, he appeared as Thomas Wellington in five episodes of the CBS series “Harper's Island.” Burgi also did a few film projects during this period. He costarred with Peter O'Toole, Jared Padalecki and Marcia Gay Harden in the Michael Campus directed movie “Christmas Cottage” (2008), was cast as Sheriff Bracke in the commercially successful slasher movie “Friday the 13th” (2009) and reprised his role of Michael Johnson in “Shanghai Blue” (2010), a reunion with Vivian Wu.
Recently, in 2011, Burgi costarred with Andrea Roth and Peter MacNeill in the TV thriller “Committed.” He also guest starred in “Breakout Kings” and “Chuck.” Burgi has completed filming the upcoming science fiction television movie “Super Eruption.”