Gould, who was born, and lived in, upstate New York, was valedictorian of his high school class and wanted nothing more than to become a teacher.
But after recovering from a severe case of trenchfoot caught while serving in the army during World War II, Gould returned to the States and changed direction. He began studying drama at Albany Teachers College and was cast in a few plays in summer stock theatre on Cape Cod. After getting a Ph.D. in theatre from Cornell University he became an acting teacher.
In the mid 50’s, Gould took a job in the drama department at the University of California. Being on the West Coast gave him an itch to try acting professionally, but the auditions were harder than he thought they’d be so he took a gig as a security guard to pay the bills.
Eventually he found work, first with small parts in Two for the Seesaw and The Coach, and then in The Yellow Canary, directed by Rod Serling and featuring Pat Boone, Jack Klugman, and Barbara Eden. Other movies followed including The Satan Bug, Inside Daisy Clover, and Harper, starring Paul Newman. He worked with Newman again in The Sting and got rave reviews for his portrayal as Kid Twist in that movie. Later he worked with Woody Allen in Love and Death and Mel Brooks in Silent Movie.
Gould found work on the small screen a little easier to come by and picked up minor roles in Dennis the Menace, Dr. Kildare, Hazel, The Twilight Zone, Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes, The F.B.I., The Big Valley, Cannon, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-O, Petrocelli, Soap, and The Love Boat.
But he always seemed to get passed over for the big-time.
For instance, Gould originated the role of Marlo Thomas’s father in the 1965 pilot for That Girl, but the series role went to Lew Parker.
He also starred as Richie Cunningham’s dad in a 1972 episode of Love, American Style titled “Love and the Happy Days.” When ABC turned that episode into a series called Happy Days, starring Ron Howard, Gould’s role went to Tom Bosley.
Then in 1972, Gould struck gold. He was cast as Marty Morgenstern, the father of Mary’s best friend Rhoda, in an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show. When Valerie Harper’s character got her own spin-off show, Rhoda, in 1974, Gould hit Hollywood paydirt. The role got him an Emmy nomination.
He later had a recurring role opposite Betty White as Rose Nylund’s boyfriend Miles on “Golden Girls” and continued acting into his 80’s when, in 2005, he starred in a national tour based on the bestselling book “Tuesday’s with Morrie.”
His last TV role was on an episode of “Nip/Tuck.”