Fred Grandy Biography

Radio Talk Show Host, Television Actor, Actor, U.S. Representative (1948–)
Fred Grandy played Gopher on the 1970s television show The Love Boat. He was also an Iowa congressman and the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries.


Fred Grandy was born June 29, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa. In 1977 he took on the defining role of his acting career, playing Gopher on The Love Boat. In January 1987, he was elected congressman for Iowa’s Sixth District and served four terms. In 1997 he became president and CEO of Goodwill Industries. From 2003 to 2010, he co-hosted a show on WMAL Radio in Washington, D.C.

Early Life

Fred Grandy was born Frederick Lawrence Grandy on June 29, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa. When his parents passed away, Grandy attended boarding school at Phillips Exeter Academy. There he met and befriended his classmate David Eisenhower, the grandson of former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. In 1966 Grandy graduated from Phillips Exeter and went on to pursue his undergraduate degree at Harvard University. After he graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1970, Grandy considered going to law school. Ultimately he decided he’d rather go into acting.

Acting Career

After taking an unsuccessful stab at a Broadway stage career, Grandy landed a recurring part on the popular 1970s television sitcom Maude, starring Bea Arthur.

In 1977 he took on the defining role of his acting career in the television series The Love Boat. On The Love Boat, Grandy played the friendly yeoman purser Gopher Smith. Despite his success as an actor, and the fact that he had forgone law school to act, Grandy longed to break free of Hollywood and pursue a different career. As cited in the Almanac of American Politics, later in life, he described his career path by saying, "What I really wanted to do was act. Eventually, I split the difference and went into politics." In 1985 Grandy left The Love Boat to do just that.

Political Career

Fresh off The Love Boat, in 1986 Grandy went home to Sioux City and ran for congressman. Victory would not come easily. He was running as a Republican representative at a time when many Iowans blamed Republican President Ronald Reagan for devastating the state’s farming economy. Grandy overcame the obstacle by studying in detail farm programs like the Payment-in-Kind credit. His strategy won him the trust of voters, and 68 percent of votes in the 1986 Republican primary election. In January 1987, he was elected Republican congressman for Iowa’s Sixth District.

Grandy went on to serve an additional three congressional terms, with his final term concluding in January 1995. In 1992 he had sought candidacy as a nominee for governor of Iowa, but his attempt proved unsuccessful.


Following his political career, Grandy kept up his commitment to public service. In 1997 he became president and CEO of Goodwill Industries, one of the country’s biggest charitable organizations, dedicated to the job training and placement of people with disabilities and financial disadvantages. During his five-plus years there, Grandy expanded the organization in order to serve a larger population.

Radio Career

In 2003, Grandy made another career change when he became a political commentator for WMAL Radio in Washington, D.C. From 2003 to 2010, Grandy co-hosted The Grandy & Andy Morning Show (later renamed The Grandy Group) with Andy Parks.

Personal Life

Although Grandy's TV career lasted less than a decade and a half, it granted him the unexpected benefit of meeting his future wife. While giving an interview for Entertainment Tonight during his stint as Gopher, Grandy met reporter and future novelist Catherine Mann. The two married in March 1987 in a small ceremony that took place at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, back in Grandy’s home town of Sioux City, Iowa. It was a second marriage for them both and the couple would go on to have a daughter together, Monica, born in 1989. Grandy was previously married to Jan Gough for more than a decade, but the couple called it quits in 1982. They have two children, Marya and Charlie.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!