Robert Hays

Robert Hays

Hays made his TV debut guesting on ABC's detective series "Harry O" and began appearing on TV-movies soon thereafter. A first series, "The Young Pioneers" (ABC, 1978), with Hays as the eponymous couple's neighbor, fizzled after three episodes, but he had more luck with "Angie" (ABC, 1979-80). As clean-cut Brad Benson, Hays played a wealthy young doctor who dealt with sitcom adventures after marrying a poor waitress (Donna Pescow). The show was never a huge hit, but it got Hays noticed, and he made a successful debut in features with the hilarious disaster spoof, "Airplane!" (1980). As Ted Striker (a role he reprised for the 1982 sequel) he was quite funny as the goofy yet stalwart former pilot who must try to land an endangered plane. Hays' wide-eyed, middle-America good looks suggested promise in films, but the unpopular "Take This Job and Shove It" (1981), based on the hit song, failed to consolidate his fame. Subsequent features were minor farces all cut from the same cloth. In "Trenchcoat" (1982) and "Fifty/Fifty" (1991), he played bumbling spies, while "Honeymoon Academy" (1990) had him married to a spy caught up in work during their honeymoon. "Scandalous" (1984), meanwhile, put Hays in comic suspense once more as a reporter charged with murder. He later did direct-to-video releases like "No Dessert Dad, Till You Mow the Lawn" and "Raw Justice" (both 1994). The likable Hays, a highly recognizable TV face, kept busy in the comic TV-movies "The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything" (syndicated, 1980) and "Murder by the Book" (NBC, 1987). "Running Against Time" (USA, 1990) found a feckless, time-traveling Hays trying to prevent JFK's assassination, and he also had his hands full with "Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare" (Fox, 1995). Often cast in roles calling for him to react as much as act, he proved a good choice for a TV version of "Mr. Roberts" (NBC, 1984) and did his charming professional best by such short-lived TV series as "Starman" (ABC, 1986-87), "FM" (NBC, 1989-90) and "Cutters" (CBS, 1993). Hays had a rare opportunity to display his underused dramatic ability as Victoria Principal's abusive husband in "The Abduction" (Lifetime, 1996).