He didn't include himself when he said this, but he has certainly had a positive effect on many people's lives, including mine. He's made us laugh, he's made us cry, and he's touched
folks through his volunteer work. In many senses, he has become the hero he so often plays on television.
Gerald McRaney, now 6'2", was born in Collins, Mississippi, on August 19, 1947, to Edna and Clyde McRaney (see pic). He has a brother, Buddy, but I don't know whether he's older or
younger. He also has a sister, Anne. Little has been reported on his early childhood, which I assume is the way he wants it. He has several nicknames reported in various articles - Mac, Macky, and Mackie. (I use 'Mac' throughout the site simply because it's easiest on the fingers.) :)
The earliest story I found was from junior high school. At 14, a knee injury kept him from playing football, so he turned his interest to the school's
drama club. He went on to major in drama at University of Mississippi, though he dropped out before earning a degree.
This enterprising nineteen year old (1967) got a job as assistant stage manager with a New Orleans Repertory Company, earning extra money as
a mud-logger during six-months stints in the oil fields of Louisiana. Mac worked his way from backstage to on-stage for some of the company's
productions. He also mimicked Shakespearean recordings by Gielgud and Olivier to lose a regional dialect. It was during this time that he was
married for the first time and had his first child - Jessica (1967).
Shortly after, he
made his first movies - Women and Bloody Terror and Night of Bloody Horror. Both were
released in 1969, so I am not sure which he actually filmed first.
In 1971, three momentous things happened, not necessarily in this order: His second child, Angus, was born. Mac was divorced from his wife - I was unable to find out when
they were actually married or her name. Third, he moved to Los Angeles.
His first television appearance was in the TV movie Shattered Silence. His first guest shot was the Night Gallery episode "Deliveries in the Rear",
which aired February 9, 1972. Once of his most notable guest appearances was as the last man to meet Matt Dillon in a gunfight on a Gunsmoke
episode, which aired February 24, 1975. Though it was the final episode of the series, Mac's character didn't win the fight.
In early 1980, Mac's fortunes changed while filming the Incredible Hulk episode "Deathmask". He was playing the psychopathic cop, Chief Frank
Rhodes, and squeezed in an audition for a new PI show on his lunch break.
When he met the blond actor who had already been
hired for the other lead on the show, it was mutual hate at first sight. He was sure this was "another pretty boy I'd have to carry." (TVguide 83)
However, once the two started the reading, everything clicked into place and Simon & Simon was born. From all printed accounts, the two become good friends, even
taking family vacations together.
About a year later (1981), Mac married his second wife, Pat Moran. In 1984, his daughter, Kate, was born. The marriage ended in divorce, but I'm not certain of the date.
The show started airing in 1981 and ran for eight seasons, during which Mac kept pretty busy. He was in nine movies, including one with JP and Jeannie Wilson called American Justice. He also made two appearances on Designing Women
("Dash Goff, the Writer" in 1987 and "Reservations for Eight" in 1988), as Dash Goff, Suzanne Sugarbaker's ex-husband.
During the course of the guest appearances, Mac and Delta Burke began seeing each other. In 1989, the two were married and remain together to this day.
Also in 1989, Mac went right on to his next series, Major Dad, playing Major John D. "Mac" MacGillis. He spent time with the marines at Camp Pendleton to perfect his military
officer portrayal. Marisa Ryan, who played his daughter, said about him: "Yeah, he's a fascinating guy! (The set) was a lot more laid-back. He's brilliant, humorous, a
lengthy and inventive story-teller - he'd be telling stories whether or not anyone was listening! ;-) He's very comfortable in TV, and he likes to participate in it; it is his
career. He had a lot of similar ideals to his character's, and almost became that character during the show."
As difficult as it is to believe, Mac hasn't ever actually been in the military. His respect for the men and women who have served is legendary, however. For example, in 1993, he spent the
Thanksgiving holiday with hundreds of marines and sailors in Toulon, France, and was received with traditional Navy honors. The Navy Public
Affairs Library quotes him as saying on that trip:
"The reason I'm here is to represent the millions of people back home that would have given their eye teeth to make the
trip with me, especially on Thanksgiving, to thank you for what you do for the whole country...Everyday it seems like you are being asked to do more and more with less and less. It's a neat
trick if you can do it, and you guys do it better than anyone else does."
He also shook hands and signed autographs while onboard. In one case he signed a highly appropriate item - a sailor's cowboy hat.
He had another eventful year in 1992, when he was Bacchus
for the annual Bacchus parade in New Orleans. When he pronounced the Mardi Gras slogan 'Laissez les bon temps rouler!' (Let the good times roll!), one reveler was quoted as
saying "First time we had a King of Bacchus who said it right!" (People, 1992). And ya just haven't lived until you've heard that phrase 'said right'. (Note - the background image
on this page is one of the coins minted for that parade.) During the year, Delta and he also bought a two storey home in the French Quarter.
Also, in 1992, he traveled with President Bush on the reelection campaign trail. From the transcript of Bush's speech in Clearwater, Florida on October 3, 1992:
"And a special welcome to Gerald McRaney. He's a great campaigner, a man of principle, and I'm very proud to have him
at my side. Mac will be traveling with us all across Florida today, and we love having him along. Except every time I get
going on a little too long, he makes me drop in the aisle of Air Force One and do 50 pushups. [Laughter]" - President George Bush
Probably pretty safe to say Mac's a registered Republican. ;)
In 1996, Mac went on to yet another successful
television series, as Russell Greene in Promised Land. It was a spin-off of Touched By An Angel, and aired from 1996-1999. A quote from Austin O'Brien, who
played his son in the series, in response to a question asking what it was like to work on the show:
"I would almost say we're pretty much family - cast and crew included. We spend so much time together, and everyone gets along so well. Celeste Holm, who plays my grandmother, is
always correcting my English. The kids are always messing around having fun, and Gerald McRaney will step in and be the Dad, and tell us to behave. Then our Mom on the show will tell
him to be quiet. ;-) We're always teasing somebody."
Most recently, in 2001, he appeared in an episode of "JAG".
In 1999, Gerald McRaney was honored with a PRISM
award, which recognizes the outstanding efforts of the entertainment industry to accurately depict drug, alcohol, and tobacco use and addiction in movies,
television, comic books, and and interactive software/games. The PRISM awards are sponsored by the Entertainment Industries Council and supported by
the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. (Library, RWJF.org)
He has also been honored with the Audie Murphy Patriotism Award at the Spirit of America Festival. The award is giving annually to an "outstanding American patriot or an outstanding
group of individuals who most exemplify the true spirit of America."
What I admire most about the man is his overwhelming respect for the armed forces and his willingness to give his time to them, as well as his
integrity and charity work. What I find most heartwarming about him is that he seems to see with his heart in friendship, love, and life.
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