Robert Milli played the stern but fair father to legendary villain Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light. Later, he played the evil Lars Bogard on All My Children, going up against Susan Lucci’s Erica Kane of all people. Now comes word the soap vet has passed away.
Milli died July 18, 2019, at the age of 86. His beloved wife, Mary Jane, preceded him in death back in 2015 but he leaves behind a son, a daughter, and four grandsons. He was born on March 15, 1933, in Brooklyn, New York City and was raised there and in Baltimore, Maryland.
By age 17, he had enlisted in the U.S. Navy. After his service was over, he returned to Maryland, which was where he met his wife. It wasn’t long before Broadway came calling, where he worked with actors like Richard Burton, Helen Hayes, and Jessica Tandy.
For soap fans, it was his role as Adam Thorpe on Guiding Light, which he played from 1974-1981, that won him a place in their hearts. As Adam, Milli worked with Michael Zaslow, who played his troubled son Roger. Adam wanted to believe in his son, but it was obvious he was troubled.
He returned briefly a few times over the years. Maureen Garrett, who played Holly, the woman Roger loved and yet terrorized, shared many scenes with Milli, as Adam was also her stepfather. “Bob was such a lovely gentleman. Old school, kind, warm, charming. I can feel the warmth from him just thinking about him,” she told Soap Hub.
But GL wasn’t his first soap. In 1967, he played Dr. Jim Abbott on Love Is a Many Splendored Thing and he originated the role of Dr. Jim Craig on One Life to Live the following year.
He also played Wayne Addison on both Somerset and Another World in 1970. After GL, he created the role of Lars Bogard, the nefarious father of Erica’s love, Kent Bogard. Rumor had it that Milli left that role because they revealed Lars’ past as a Nazi. Jack Betts (ex-Ivan Kipling, OLTL) ended up taking over the part.
Milli also appeared in films. In 1964, he was in The Curse of the Living Corpse with Roy Scheider, Hamlet with Richard Burton (filmed from their stage version), and in 1971, he was in the Jane Fonda film, Klute. In 1986, he was in writer/director Harvey Weinstein’s Playing for Keeps.
A funeral Mass was held on July 24. In lieu of flowers, the family asked that donations be made to Villa Marie Claire hospice, 12 West Saddle River Road, Saddle River, NJ 07458.