‘Soap’ Star Robert Mandan Dies At 86

The prolific actor was best known for his role as womanizer Chester Tate on the classic ABC soap opera spoof.

Robert Mandan Dead
ABC Television Network / Wikimedia Commons

The prolific actor was best known for his role as womanizer Chester Tate on the classic ABC soap opera spoof.

Robert Mandan, the actor who played Chester Tate on the 1970s ABC sitcom Soap, has died at the age of 86. Mandan passed in Los Angeles after suffering a long, undisclosed illness in late April, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Mandan had a prolific television career dating back to the late 1950s with a role on the early soap opera From These Roots in 1958. Robert went on to appear in a series of soaps, including The Edge of Night (1963), The Doctors (1963) and Search for Tomorrow (1966-1970) before landing his most famous role on ABC’s Soap. Mandan played Chester, a Wall Street broker and the philandering husband of Jessica ( Katherine Helmond), from 1977 to 1981 on the primetime soap opera spoof

TV fans who didn’t watch Soap were still familiar with Robert Mandan. The actor’s IMDB page list over 115 acting credits. The actor’s impressive TV resume included roles as the auctioneer in the Sanford and Don pilot and the lawyer who paid off Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) when he was robbed on All in the Family. In the 1970s, Mandan also appeared in episodes of Maude, Mission: Impossible, CHiPS, and The Streets of San Francisco before landing the role as Col. Lawrence Fielding in the CBS’ television adaptation of Private Benjamin, which aired from 1981 to 1983.

Robert also starred in the short-lived 1984 sitcom Three’s a Crowd, a role he debuted in the final season of the ABC hit Three’s Company. Mandan played wealthy investment banker James Bradford, the meddling father of Vicky Bradford (Mary Cadorette), Jack Tripper’s (John Ritter) girlfriend.

Robert Mandan also appeared on The Facts of Life as Dr. Bruce Gaines, the eventual husband of Mrs. Garrett’s (Charlotte Rae). In 1991, Mandan reunited with Soap wife, Katherine Helmond, for two episodes of her subsequent sitcom, Who’s the Boss.

Mandan’s film roles included 1982 comedy Zapped! as well as the hit movie adaption of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, which also starred Dolly Parton and Burt Reynolds.

After a successful career as a character actor in the ’70s and ’80s, Robert Mandan went back to his soap opera roots in the 1990s with roles on Santa Barbara, Days of Our Lives, and General Hospital. His last onscreen soap opera credit was the role of Judge Bryant in a 2006 episode of General Hospital.

Robert Mandan is survived by his wife, Sherry Dixon.

You can see Robert Mandan in his breakout role as Chester Tate on Soap below.