LOS ANGELES (AP) – Gavin MacLeod, the veteran supporting actor who went on to fame as Murray Slaughter, the sardonic television news writer on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” before going on as the cheerful Capt. Stubing in “The Love Boat” has died. He was 90 years old.
MacLeod died early Saturday, his nephew Mark See told Variety. MacLeod’s health has been poor lately, but no cause of death has been given, the journal reported.
Known to sitcom fans for his bald head and big smile, MacLeod has worked and kicked near anonymously for more than a decade in dozens of TV shows and in several films before receiving his role as “Mary Tyler Moore” in 1970.
He originally tested for Moore’s TV boss Lou Grant, a part that went to Ed Asner. When MacLeod realized he wasn’t right to play the boisterous, quick-tempered TV news editor, he asked if he could try the clever TV news writer instead. His jokes were often at the expense of the moronic host Ted Baxter.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was a blast from the start and remains a classic of situation comedies. It created two spin-offs, “Rhoda” and “Phyllis” with Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, who had portrayed Mary’s neighbors.
It was still top rated when Moore, who played news producer Mary Richards, decided to do it end after seven seasons.
MacLeod switched to “The Love Boat,” a romantic comedy in which guest stars from Gene Kelly to Janet Jackson came on board for a cruise and fell in love.
Though the series Despised by critics, it proved hugely popular, lasting eleven seasons and making several television films, including two in which MacLeod remained at the helm of the cruise ship. It also led to his being hired as a TV pitchman for Princess Cruise Lines.
“The critics hated it. They called it pointless television, but we became ambassadors of goodwill, ”he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013.
His recent TV credits have included” Touched by An Angel “,” JAG “and” The King of. ” Queens “.
MacLeod’s carefree screen personality contrasted with his personal life. In his 2013 memoir “This Is Your Captain Speaking,” MacLeod admitted that he struggled with alcoholism in the 1960s and 1970s. He also wrote that losing his hair at a young age made it difficult for him to find work as an actor.
“I was all over town looking for an agent, but no one was interested in a young man to represent with a bald head, “he wrote. “I knew what to do. I had to buy a hairpiece. “A toupee changed happiness” pretty quickly “. He didn’t need the toupee until middle age.
MacLeod, whose first name was Allan See, got his first name from a French film and his last from an acting teacher at New York’s Ithaca College, who had encouraged him to pursue an acting career After college, the Mount Kisco, New York-born player became a minor player in “A Hatful of Rain” and other Broadway plays, as well as in films such as “I Want to Live!” and “Operation Petticoat”.
In the 1960s, he appeared on television shows including “Hogan’s Heroes”, “Hawaii Five-O” and “The Dick Van Dyke Show”. From 1962 to 1964 he also appeared in “McHale’s Navy” as seaman Joseph “Happy” Haines.
An important role he auditioned for: Archie Bunker in “All in the Family”. But he quickly realized that the character that Carol O’Conner had immortalized was wrong for him. Immediately I thought, ‘This is not the script for me. The character is too much of a fanatic. “I can’t say these things,” MacLeod wrote in his memoir.
MacLeod had four children with his first wife, Joan Rootvik, who he divorced in 1972. He was the son of an alcoholic and his drinking problems led to a second divorce, Patti Steele. After MacLeod stopped drinking, he and Steele remarried in 1985.
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The couple later hosted a Christian radio show entitled “Back On Track: A Ministry Of Marriages.”