Gavin MacLeod, of ‘Mary Tyler Moore’ and ‘The Love Boat,’ dies at 90
Gavin MacLeod, who cracked wise on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and guided “The Love Boat” with a steady hand, has died at 90.
The actor died early Saturday morning, his nephew, Mark See, told Variety. No cause of death was given, but Variety reported that he had been in poor health in recent months.
MacLeod shot to fame with his portrayal of Murray Slaughter on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” where he played the head news writer for a TV station where Moore worked.
Co-star Ed Asner paid tribute to his colleague and noted that now he and Betty White are the only cast members remaining.
“My heart is broken,” Asner tweeted, with a picture of himself and MacLeod. “Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator. I will see you in a bit Gavin. Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now.”
After “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ended its run. MacLeod played the beloved Captain Merrill Stubing on the hit show “The Love Boat” for 10 years, appearing in 250 episodes. He also starred in the made-for-TV movies based on the show.
He was born Alan George See in Mount Kisco, Westchester County, in southeastern New York and grew up in Pleasantville. After graduating from Ithaca College and serving in the Air Force, he moved to New York City, working at Radio City Music Hall while looking for acting gigs.
After minor roles in TV and film, he landed a part in the 1959 “Operation Petticoat,” which gave him wider exposure and led to two subsequent roles for the film’s director, Blake Edwards.
MacLeod worked steadily throughout the 1960s, including doing 73 episodes of “McHale’s Navy,” and had just finished the film “Kelly’s Heroes” when Moore and her producer/husband Grant Tinker contacted him about her upcoming show.
MacLeod, who had appeared with Moore on an episode of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and was friends with her and Tinker, loved the scripts he got but not the part they envisioned him playing.
“They wanted to see me for Lou Grant,” MacLeod said in an interview for the Archive of American Television. “And what a great part, but I wouldn’t believe myself being her boss.”
He read for the role, but told the creative team he preferred the part of Murray, the sardonic scribe who traded barbs with Ted Knight’s anchor, Ted Baxter. Asner wound up playing Lou Grant on the show that ran for 168 episodes.
“It was one of the classic television shows of all time,” MacLeod said.
After the show ended its seven-year run, MacLeod looked for a new gig.
“My agent called and said, ‘Aaron Spelling wants you to do this thing called ‘The Love Boat.’” MacLeod said. “He said, ‘I think it sucks, but do you want to read it?’ I said, ‘Sure.’”
After checking with family and friends to see if they saw potential in the show, MacLeod decided to play the captain, whose crew welcomed a series of guest stars who found love on the high seas.
The series ran from 1977 to 1986, and in a series of TV movies through 1990. The show was revived as “The Love Boat: The Next Wave” in 1998 with Robert Urich playing the captain, and MacLeod made one appearance on the show.
Her served as a spokesman for Princess Cruises after the show ended.
MacLeod, who spoke candidly of his alcoholism in the 1960s and ‘70s in his 2013 memoir, “This Is Your Captain Speaking,” is survived by his second wife, Patti Kendig, and his four children with his first wife, Joan DeVore.
“Brady Bunch” actress Maureen McCormick, who guested five times on “The Love Boat,” saluted its captain.
‘Rest In Peace my dear friend Gavin Macleod,” she tweeted. “Thank you for all the special and beautiful heart filled conversations about life. I will always treasure the time I was lucky enough to spend with you. Love you.”