Soap's Robert Mandan dead at 86

Robert Mandan, best known to TV audiences for his role as Chester Tate on the classic ABC sitcom Soap, has died at the age of 86.

Mandan passed away in Los Angeles on April 29 after suffering a long, undisclosed illness, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He is survived by his wife, Sherry Dixon.

The veteran TV actor got his start in soap operas, with stints on From These Roots (1959-1961), The Edge of Night (1963), The Doctors (1963) and Search for Tomorrow (1966-1970). He continued to work regularly throughout the 1970s, appearing on episodes of All in the Family, Maude, Sanford and Son, Mission: Impossible and The Streets of San Francisco, among other high-profile series.

See Robert Mandan through his career:

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Robert Mandan through his career
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Robert Mandan through his career
SOAP - Cast Gallery - Shoot Date: August 4, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: August 3, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN;KATHERINE HELMOND
SOAP - Cast Gallery - Shoot Date: August 4, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) CLOCKWISE (FROM BOTTOM, L): KATHERINE HELMOND;ROBERT MANDAN;ROBERT GUILLAUME;RICHARD MULLIGAN;CATHRYN DAMON
SOAP - Cast Gallery - Shoot Date: August 4, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: RICHARD MULLIGAN;CATHRYN DAMON;ROBERT GUILLAUME;KATHERINE HELMOND;ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Cast Gallery - Shoot Date: August 4, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: August 25, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: August 25, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND;ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Pilot - Airdate: September 13, 1977. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND;ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: March 28, 1978. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: October 29, 1979. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN;KAREN AUSTIN
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: March 14, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) KATHERINE HELMOND;ROBERT MANDAN
UNITED STATES - MARCH 16: SOAP - Season Four - Episode 82 - 3/16/81, Mary (Cathryn Damon) recalled her brief relationship with Chester (Robert Mandan) and the blackmail that forced him to marry Jessica., (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
SOAP - Show Coverage - Shoot Date: December 12, 1980. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) L-R: RICHARD MULLIGAN;NANCY DOLMAN;ROBERT MANDAN
THREE'S COMPANY - 'Friends And Lovers' - Airdate: September 18, 1984. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)MARY CADORETTE;ROBERT MANDAN
THREE'S A CROWD - Cast Gallery - Shoot Date: March 30, 1984. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
THREE'S A CROWD - 'A Foreign Affair' - Airdate: December 11, 1984. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN;JOHN RITTER
THREE'S A CROWD - 'A Foreign Affair' - Airdate: December 11, 1984. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
THREE'S A CROWD - 'September Song' - Airdate: February 12, 1985. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) VANCE COLVIG JR.;ROBERT MANDAN;MARY CADORETTE
HOTEL - 'Past Tense' - Airdate: May 27, 1987. (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images) ROBERT MANDAN
DOLLY - Robert Mandan and Dolly Parton 1987 (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - JANUARY 23: Actor Robert Mandan attends the afterparty following the opening night of the Broadway-bound show 'Jay Johnson: The Two and Only!' January 23, 2006 in Westwood, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 02: Actor Robert Mandan arrives at the WGA's 101 Best Written Series, honoring seven decades of outstanding television writing, at the Writers Guild Theater on June 2, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 02: Actors Robert Mandan (L) and Jay Johnson (R) attend the WGA's 101 Best Written Series at the Writers Guild Theater on June 2, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic)
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Mandan’s star-making role came soon after, when he was cast on the aforementioned Soap as the philandering husband to Katherine Helmond’s Jessica from 1977 to 1981. The series ran for a total of four seasons and spawned the successful spinoff Benson, starring the late Robert Guillaume.

After Soap, Mandan starred as Col. Lawrence Fielding in the TV adaptation of Private Benjamin, which ran on CBS from 1981-1983. In 1984, he starred opposite John Ritter on the short-lived Three’s a Crowd, in a role he originated in the final episodes of Three’s Company. In 1986, he appeared on The Facts of Life as Dr. Bruce Gaines, a member of the Peace Corps who married Mrs. Garrett in Charlotte Rae’s farewell episodes. Then in 1991, he reunited with Soap spouse Helmond in two episodes of Who’s the Boss.

Mandan’s film credits include Hickey & Boggs, MacArthur and The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. Other notable TV gigs included episodes of The Love Boat, CHiPS, Highway to HeavenSanta Barbara, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Married… with Children.

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