David Birney Dead at 83
David Birney, a classically trained theater actor who found success on the stage, including on Broadway, but who was best known for his role in “Bridget Loves Bernie” — a short-lived sitcom about an interfaith marriage in which he starred opposite his future wife, Meredith Baxter — died on Friday at his home in Santa Monica, Calif.
He was 83.
The cause was Alzheimer’s disease, said Michele Roberge, who said she was his life partner.
Mr. Birney had been in a handful of television series and movies when he was cast in 1972 as Bernie Steinberg, a Jewish taxicab driver and struggling writer. Ms. Baxter played Bridget Fitzgerald, a schoolteacher from a wealthy Roman Catholic family.
“This is not a message show,” Mr. Birney, who was Irish American, said during an interview with The Kansas City Star before the series’s debut. “It’s not even an idea show.”
CBS gave it a plum time slot between “All in the Family” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” on Saturday night; it consistently finished among the top 10 programs in prime time and was the highest rated new series of the 1972-73 season.
Mr. Birney is survived by his children with Ms. Baxter, his daughters Kate and Mollie Birney and a son, Peter Baxter; a stepdaughter, Eva Bush, and a stepson, Ted Bush, Ms. Baxter’s children from a previous marriage; two grandchildren; and his brothers, Glenn and Gregory. Another marriage, to Mary Concannon, also ended in divorce.