Richard Biggs, a television actor known for his featured roles in such series as "Babylon 5" and "Days of Our Lives," died Saturday after collapsing suddenly at his San Fernando Valley home. He was 44.
He was taken to Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, where he died, said Caren Day, a family spokeswoman. The cause was a tear in his aorta.
Biggs, a graduate of the USC School of Theatre, portrayed Dr. Stephen Franklin on the science-fiction series "Babylon 5," which was broadcast in syndication and later on the TNT network from 1991 to 1998. He also played a doctor on the NBC soap "Days of Our Lives" for five years beginning in the 1980s.
More recently, he appeared on the Lifetime channel dramas "Any Day Now" and "Strong Medicine" and earned favorable notices onstage in Los Angeles productions of Shakespeare's "Lear" and John DiFusco's Vietnam War play "Tracers."
Born in Columbus, Ohio, Biggs developed a passion for acting in high school after performing in a community production of "The Wiz." He won a scholarship to USC, where he majored in performing arts. While in college he taught acting at 32nd Street Magnet School near the USC campus and later at the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga. He eventually developed his own curriculum, which he offered to schools across the country.
Hearing-impaired since boyhood, Biggs devoted much of his off-camera time to raising money for a private Orange County school that serves both deaf and hearing children.
In 1997 he was invited to direct a benefit presentation of A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" at the Irvine Barclay Theatre. The proceeds went to the Rancho Viejo School for the deaf and hearing-impaired in Rancho Santa Margarita.
The next year Biggs brought most of the cast of "Babylon 5" to the school for another fundraising event, which attracted fans from around the country. He also sold autographed pictures of himself at the sci-fi conventions he frequently attended and gave the proceeds to the school so it could purchase playground and other equipment.
His own hearing problems were diagnosed when he was 13. Completely deaf in one ear and partly deaf in the other, Biggs wore a hearing aid and learned sign language as an adult after doctors told him that he one day would lose all his hearing.
He is survived by his wife of six years, Lori Kay Biggs; two sons, Hunter, 2, and Richard James III, 4; his parents, retired Col. Richard and Delores Biggs of Spokane, Wash.; and four sisters.
His family has established a college fund for his sons. Donations may be sent to the Benefit of the Children of Richard Biggs II, c/o Washington Mutual Bank, 840 N. San Fernando Blvd., Burbank, CA 91502.