David Birney, who was most known for his role as the star of “St. Elsewhere,” passed away in April 2022 at the age of 83. Both the actor and his wife, Meredith Baxter, starred in “Bridget Loves Bernie,” and the couple was married during filming. When they began a relationship outside of the show, they ended their on-screen relationship.

The two fell in love, tied the knot, and went on to have three children together. After 15 years of marriage, however, they decided to separate and file for divorce in Los Angeles. Their union did not last long.

Years later, the pair still did not have a friendly relationship, and Meredith Baxter accused David Birney of being violent in her book in 2011, but he disputed the allegations. David Birney also denied the allegations. A peek at their marriage as well as the passing of David Birney is shown here.

Birney received his bachelor of arts degree in English from Dartmouth College in 1961. He was born on April 23, 1939, and attended that institution. Instead of attending Stanford Law School to study law, he decided to attend the University of California, Berkeley, to study theatrical arts.

He enlisted in the army and participated in the Showmobile program, which provided entertainment to troops stationed at various stations. After winning the Barter Theater Award in 1965 and spending a season performing in shows, Birney’s career in the theater took off at that point.

After waiting another year, Birney finally made his debut on Broadway. His reputation on television skyrocketed when he was cast in the TV show “Bridget Loves Bernie,” in which he had a scene with Meredith Baxter, and the show became a hit.

Baxter was born on June 21, 1947, to a radio announcer whose actress wife, Whitney Blake, was the mother of his child. As Baxter became older, she dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps and becoming an actor.

Even though she had appeared as a guest star on “The Doris Day Show” and “The Partridge Family,” the actress remained relatively unknown until the early 1970s. In 1972, she had her big break as the female lead in the film “Bridget Loves Bernie,” which was released that year.

Before landing her part alongside Birney, Baxter was only a small-time actor. Her most notable performance prior to that was playing the sister in the rodent horror film “Ben.”

After being cast in the same production of “Bridget Loves Bernie,” Baxter and Birney became friends. On their first day of work, they got to know each other better over lunch and around the first reading table.

Within a week, Baxter and Birney were enjoying intimate meals by the light of candlelight. She divulged that he was charismatic, beautiful, elegant, and lithe in addition to being intense. Baxter said:

“I was most drawn to how knowledgeable he seemed to be; he exuded such an air of self-assurance, he had ideas, he had traveled, and he was well-versed in a variety of subjects.”

She couldn’t help but be enamored with him, despite the fact that she felt he was a little pretentious. Baxter could not recall Birney proposing to her, but after she found out that she was pregnant, the topic of their marriage came up in discussion.

The actress was certain that she would not have an abortion, but she did not want to bring up a kid by herself either. However, despite being advised by her maid of honor that she did not have to be married, she went ahead and did so.

Birney requested that his jeweler craft distinctive wedding bands for him and his wife, but the jeweler informed him that the rings would not be finished in time for their wedding on April 10, 1974. However, when they found the ring that Birney was looking for being worn by a server, he made an offer to purchase it from the woman.

Because her boyfriend, Seamus, had just recently given her the Claddagh ring, the waitress was concerned that he would be angry with her for wearing it. But she also wanted to preserve the memory of their wedding day, so Baxter wore the ring that belonged to Seamus throughout the first 15 years of their marriage.

Baxter disclosed in her biography that they went through several changes as a result of their marriage. They debated about whether or not Baxter should change her surname after purchasing a home jointly that had four bedrooms.

At first, she was opposed to having his name, but later on, she decided to change her mind if it would bring him joy. On the other hand, when she showed him the formal paperwork, he didn’t seem too pleased by them.

The couple became parents for the first time on December 5, 1974, to a daughter named Kathleen “Kate” Jeanne. According to Baxter, who was delivering her third child at the time, Birney reportedly coerced her into having a natural delivery in which she did not use any medications, which Baxter regarded to be absurd.

Due to the fact that both infants were positioned in the breech position, the delivery of their twins, Mollie Elizabeth and Peter David Edwin, took place through Caesarean section on October 2, 1984.

In her book, Baxter disclosed further that during their 15-year marriage, Birney was violent in a variety of ways, including verbally, emotionally, and physically. She was also of the opinion that he was having affairs, despite the fact that she had no evidence of this.

She remembered that he had hit her on more than one occasion and that there were occasions when she did not think to rise up in order to protect herself from being beaten once again. After that, Baxter turned to drinking as a means of self-medicating and coping with the abuse. However, she got sober in 1990.

In her book, Baxter disclosed further that during their 15-year marriage, Birney was violent in a variety of ways, including verbally, emotionally, and physically. She was also of the opinion that he was having affairs, despite the fact that she had no evidence of this.

On September 13, 1990, they went their own ways formally. After the publication of her book, Birney disclosed the fact that Baxter was dishonest about their life together in court on many occasions, bringing along a rotating cast of attorneys and therapists each time.

He said that the tales she recounted in court had been retold in her biography and that these tales should not be believed since they are not believable. Birney, who thought it was preposterous that she could not recapture even a single episode of ecstasy or pleasure stemming from their connection, stated:

“Nothing from the time we first met until the divorce was finalized. Nothing, after an interval of sixteen years. Really?.”

For many years, Baxter concealed her sexuality, revealing it to no one outside of her immediate family and a few close acquaintances. Despite having portrayed a lesbian mother in the 1993 episode of “Other Mothers,” she did not reveal her sexual orientation to the public until 2009.

“The news of David Birney’s loss has left me in a state of deep mourning.”
She had been in a relationship with her partner, Nancy Locke, for a total of four years prior to her coming out to the general public, and the two of them had been living together for a total of two years.

After going through treatment to cope with marital issues, her mother’s loss, and breast cancer, the actress said that her awakening occurred as a result of being sober and living a more open life. In her words:

“Even though I’ve been married several times and had a large brood of children, I can honestly say that I’ve never experienced that level of connection or that level of waking before. It had a very significant impact on me.”

In 2013, she tied the knot with her longtime boyfriend, Locke, in a private ceremony attended by close friends and family members. During the wedding, the pair wrote handwritten vows to one another.

After their divorce, Baxter went on to have two more marriages, while Birney remained alone her whole life. Baxter was his second and last wife throughout his lifetime. But he had Michele Roberge, who was his “life partner,” and she was the one who disclosed that the actor had Alzheimer’s disease.

At the age of 83, the theatrical performer with classical training passed away at his home in Santa Monica on April 29, 2022. Upon learning the tragic news, Baxter conveyed her love and support to Roberge, Birney’s life partner, whom she claimed had tenderly taken care of him for years. She added that she did this out of pure compassion.

She also reflected on the fact that the children she shared with Birney were now fatherless after the loss of their biological parents. In her words:

“The news of David Birney’s passing left me in a state of deep mourning. My deepest sympathies go out to Kate, Peter, and Mollie, who are our children. David was a significant force in their lives, and the absence of his presence will be keenly felt by all of them.”

In addition to Roberge, his three children from his marriage to Baxter as well as Baxter’s children from a former marriage are still alive. Additionally, Birney was predeceased by his sons Glenn and Gregory, who are now his grandkids.

By Anna

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