Gavin MacLeod, the actor who rose to prominence as a sardonic TV reporter on Murray Slaughter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show and as the merry Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, has died at the age of 90.
MacLeod died early Saturday at his Palm Desert, Calif., Home, Stephanie Steele Zalin, his stepdaughter, said. She attributed his death to his age, saying he was fine until very recently.
“He had one of the most incredible, funniest explosions of a lifetime of anyone I know. He enjoyed every minute, ”Steele Zalin said. “I don’t even think that in his wildest dreams he dreamed of the life he ended up having and creating. “
She called him the “best, sweetest and purest.”
Ed Asner, who starred alongside MacLeod on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, said on Twitter that “my heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food), and my comedic conspirator.
Known to sitcom fans for his bald head and broad smile, MacLeod worked in near anonymity for over a decade, appearing on dozens of TV shows and several films before landing the role of Murray Slaughter. in 1970.
He had originally tested for Moore’s television boss Lou Grant the role that went to Asner. Realizing he wasn’t cut out to play the angry TV newsroom frontman, MacLeod asked if he could try for the TV news reporter instead, his jokes often to the detriment of stupid presenter Ted Baxter. .
The Mary Tyler Moore Show was a hit from the start and remains a sitcom classic. It was still among the top-rated when Moore, who played short story producer Mary Richards, decided to end it after seven seasons.
MacLeod moved on to The Love Boat, a romantic comedy in which guest stars ranging from Gene Kelly to Janet Jackson took a cruise and fell in love with each other.
Although despised by critics, the series proved hugely popular, spanning 11 seasons and building on several TV movies, including two in which MacLeod remained at the helm of the cruise ship. It also got him hired as a television pitchman for Princess Cruise Lines.
“The critics hated him. They called it mindless television, but we became goodwill ambassadors, ”he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013.
Among his last TV credits were Touched by An Angel, JAG and The King of Queens.
MacLeod’s light screen character contrasted with his private 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 an early age prevented him from finding work. As an actor.
“I went all over town looking for an agent, but no one was interested in portraying a bald-headed young man,” he wrote. “I knew what to do. I needed to buy myself a hairpiece. A toupee changed his luck “quite quickly”. In middle age, he did not need a nerve.
In a 2013 interview with The Associated Press, MacLeod frequently invoked the word “thankful” as he reflected on his reborn Christian faith, surviving two heart attacks and his robust life.
“It’s a big word in my life. I’m so grateful that I had another day, another day, another day, and that my children are doing so well, ”he said.
MacLeod, whose first name was Allan See, took his first name from a French film and his last from a drama professor at Ithaca College in New York City who had encouraged him to pursue an acting career.
After college, the Mount Kisco, New York native became a supporting actor in A Hatful of Rain and other Broadway plays, and in films such as I Want to Live! and Operation Jupon.
He made appearances on television shows throughout the 1960s, including Hogan’s Heroes, Hawaii Five-O, and the Dick Van Dyke Show. He also appeared on McHale’s Navy from 1962 to 1964 as Seaman Joseph Happy Haines.
He auditioned for the role of Archie Bunker in All in the Family, but soon realized that the character, immortalized by Carol O’Conner, was not for him. “Immediately I thought, ‘This is not the script for me. The character is too bigoted. I can’t say these things, ”MacLeod wrote in his memoir.
Other movie credits included Kelly’s Heroes, The Sand Pebbles, and The Sword of Ali Baba.
MacLeod had four children with his first wife, Joan Rootvik, whom he divorced in 1972. He was the son of an alcoholic, and his drinking problems helped lead to a second divorce, with the actor-dancer. Patti Steele. After MacLeod quit drinking, he and Steele remarried in 1985.
Raised a Catholic, he credited Steele for their common reborn faith. The couple hosted a Christian radio show called Back on Course: A Ministry for Marriages.
Along with his wife, MacLeod’s survivors include his children, three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and his first great-grandchild, who arrived in December, Steele Zalin said.