Gavin MacLeod Biography

Television Actor, Film Actor (1931–)
Gavin MacLeod is a character actor best known for his role as Murray Slaughter in 'The Mary Tyler Moore Show' and Captain Merrill Stubing on 'The Love Boat.'


Gavin MacLeod was born on February 28, 1931 in Mount Kisco, New York. He began his acting career playing darker roles in crime films but turned that reputation around when he got his big break playing the funny and kindhearted TV newswriter Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977)From there he took on his other most memorable role to date, playing Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat for nine seasons (1977-1986). MacLeod continues to do occasional acting work but primarily focuses on activities surrounding his Evangelical Christian faith.

Early Life & Career

Gavin MacLeod was born as Allan George See on February 28, 1931 in Mount Kisco, New York. His father was part Chippewa Indian and owned a gas station, and his mother was a middle school dropout who would later work for Reader's Digest. MacLeod studied acting and graduated from Ithaca College in 1952. After serving in the United States Air Force, he moved to New York City where he eventually took the stage name Gavin MacLeod because he felt his legal name wasn't "strong enough" and his last name See "too confusing." 

After getting a break on Broadway in A Hatful of Rain in 1956, MacLeod eventually moved to Los Angeles and steadily built his resume primarily in television, with shows like Peter Gunn, Operation Petticoat, Perry Mason, Hawaii Five-O, The Untouchables, Hogan's Heroes, and That 70s Show, among many others. MacLeod landed his first regular television role in the early 1960s with McHale's Navy, playing Joseph "Happy" Haines. He left after two seasons to star opposite Steve McQueen in the motion picture The Sand Pebbles.

**Read 'The Love Boat Cast: Where Are They Now?'**

Big Break

But it wasn't until he landed the role of genteel, wisecracking TV newswriter Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show that MacLeod's career would be changed forever. “One of my daughters says of all the parts she has seen me play, Murray is the closest to my real self,” MacLeod said of his 1970s character. 

Once The Mary Tyler Show came to a close in 1977, MacLeod jumped right into another television hit, The Love Boat, as Captain Merrill Stubing, whom he would play for nine seasons and would earn him three Golden Globe nominations.

Looking back, MacLeod has fond memories of his experience. “We went out six weeks a year on a Princess ship. We were [filming] in Mexico for years and then started traveling to [places like] China, England and Japan. We had guest stars every week, people like Carol Channing, Cab Calloway ... I was in actor’s heaven!” he said. 

Gavin MacLeod Photo

Gavin MacLeod and Barbara Rush in 'Not Now, I'm Dying/Eleanor's Return/Too Young to Love' which aired on November 24, 1979. (Photo: ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)

Born-Again Christian

But despite the happy characters he had become famous for, MacLeod went through a dark period. His inability to cope with fame led him to alcohol abuse and a divorce from his second wife Patti. 

"I put my work before her," he told Fox News. "The Love Boat became such a giant job. I was all over the place promoting it. I was traveling all over and I just felt — this sounds very egomaniacal — but I felt that I didn't have time for her anymore."

Shortly after, however, he turned his life around, gave up drinking, and became an Evangelical Christian, which he claims saved his relationship with Patti. They remarried three years later in 1985 and since then appear together on a faith-based show called Back on Course, which focuses on marital issues. In 1987 he wrote a book, Back On Course: The Remarkable Story of a Divorce That Ended in Remarriage, that delves into this period of his life.

Other Projects

Since being on The Love Boat, MacLeod has been a spokesperson for Princess Cruises. In 2013 he wrote a memoir, This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life.

MacLeod has four children with his first wife Joan Rootvik, three stepchildren, and 10 grandchildren.

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