He starred in the 1979 hit film The Champ, and went on to become a child star on the NBC sitcom Silver Spoons. He has continued acting as an adult, notably on the western Lonesome Dove and the television crime drama NYPD Blue.
Ricky was born in Staten Island, New York, the son of Diane, a telephone company employee, and Richard Bartlett Schroder, Sr., a telephone company district manager. He has a sister, Dawn. His great, great, grandmother came from Oslo, Norway and his paternal grandparents from Hamburg, Germany, which makes him both of Norwegian and of German descent. Schroder debuted in the 1979 remake of the movie The Champ and won the Golden Globe Award for Best New Male Star of the Year in a Motion Picture at the age of nine for his role as T.J. Flynn in the movie.
In the following year, Ricky made a Walt Disney feature film called The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark with Elliott Gould but the film bombed at the box office. He also starred as the title character in the film Little Lord Fauntleroy alongside Alec Guinness in 1980.
Ricky became well known as the star of the television series Silver Spoons, when he played the lead character Ricky Stratton. After Silver Spoons ended, he attended Calabasas High School for his senior year.As he grew older, he struggled to become known as a serious actor. He changed his name credit from Ricky to Rick and preferred to take roles which helped him to stretch as an actor. He made an appearance as the guest timekeeper in Wrestlemania 2 for The Main Event steel cage match between Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy.
Schroder was ranked #18 in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Kid Stars and #33 in VH1’s list of the 100 Greatest Teen Stars.
Schroder’s co-starring role in the Western mini-series Lonesome Dove and its sequel, Return to Lonesome Dove, helped in his attempt to be recognized in more mature roles. His roles as Danny Sorenson on three seasons of NYPD Blue, nurse Paul Flowers in Scrubs, Dr. Dylan West on Strong Medicine, and Mike Doyle on the 2007 season of 24 worked to cement that perception with the viewing audience.
In 2004, Rick Schroder wrote and directed the feature film Black Cloud, a drama about a Navajo boxer. The same year he directed and starred in the music video for “Whiskey Lullaby”, a song by Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss. Schroeder’s son and daughter also appeared in the video. In 2005 CMT Music Awards, the video won the “Collaborative Video of the Year” award, while Schroder won “Director of the Year” award.
In 2007, Schroder announced that he was changing his credit back to “Ricky” beginning with his role on 24.In an interview, he admitted that changing his name from “Ricky” to “Rick” at 18, upon prompting by his agent, was a mistake. “‘Rick’ never really fit,” he said. “I tried for 18 years to make it work, and no one wanted to call me ‘Rick’. It should always have been ‘Ricky’. That’s what it always should have been, so I’m going back to it.”
In 2009, he directed the adventure horror film Hellhounds.
Schroder guest-starred in a January 2011 episode of ABC’s No Ordinary Family.
He currently has a reality show project for the US Army.
Schroder married Andrea Bernard on September 26, 1992. Together, they have four children: Holden Richard Schroder (born January 8, 1992), Luke William Schroder (born August 1, 1993), Cambrie Schroder (born September 14, 1997), and Faith Anne Schroder (born August 8, 2001). Andrea Bernard Schroder is an interior designer and was a contestant on Season Two of Top Design on Bravo.
Politically, Schroder is a Life Member of the National Rifle Association and a Republican who supported George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and John McCain in 2008. He also spoke at the 2000 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.
He is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In April 2000, he was baptized into the Church by his father-in-law.
Schroder is an active celebrity ambassador for the child abuse prevention and treatment non-profit organization Childhelp.