Gavin MacLeod, 'Love Boat' captain, dies at 90

Beloved actor got his big break on'The Mary Tyler Moore Show'

Gavin MacLeod, 'Love Boat' captain, dies at 90

Gavin MacLeod, the veteran supporting actor who attained stardom as Murray Slaughter, the sardonic TV news writer on"The Mary Tyler Moore Show," before going on to bigger fame as the merry Capt. Stubing on"The Love Boat," has expired. He was 90.

MacLeod died early Saturday, his nephew, Mark See, told Variety. MacLeod's health was bad recently but no cause of death was given, the trade publication reported.

Known to sitcom fans because of his bare head and broad grin, MacLeod toiled in near anonymity for at least a decade, appearing on dozens of TV shows and in several movies before landing his"Mary Tyler Moore" role in 1970.

He'd originally tested for Moore's TV boss, Lou Grant, a part that went to Ed Asner. Realizing he wasn't appropriate for enjoying the blustery, short-tempered TV newsroom leader, MacLeod asked if he could try instead for its wisecracking TV news writer, his jokes often at the expense of this dimwitted anchorman Ted Baxter.

"The Mary Tyler Moore Show" was a smash from the start and remains a classic of situation comedies. It produced two spinoffs,"Rhoda" and"Phyllis," starring Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, who had portrayed Mary's neighbors.

It was top-rated when Moore, who played with news producer Mary Richards, decided to finish it after seven seasons.

MacLeod moved on to"The Love Boat," a romantic comedy where guest stars, ranging from Gene Kelly into Janet Jackson, could come aboard for a cruise and fall in love with one another.

Although scorned by critics, the show proved immensely popular, lasting 11 seasons and turning off many TV films, including two in which MacLeod remained in the cruise ship's helm. Additionally, it led to his being hired as a TV pitchman for Princess Cruise Lines.

They predicted it dumb TV, but we became goodwill ambassadors," he told the Los Angeles Times at 2013.

Among his final TV credits were"Touched by An Angel,""JAG" and"The King of Queens."

MacLeod's lighthearted screen persona was compared to his private life. Inside his 2013 memoir,"This Is Your Captain Speaking," MacLeod acknowledged that he had struggled with alcoholism in the 1960s and'70s. He also wrote that losing his hair at a young age made it difficult for him to find work as an actor.

"I went around town looking for an agent, however, no one has been interested in representing a young guy with a bald head," he wrote. "I understood what I needed to perform. I had to buy myself a hairpiece." A toupee changed his luck"pretty fast." By middle age, he didn't need the toupee.

MacLeod, whose given name was Allan View, took his first name from a French film and his last from a drama teacher at New York's Ithaca College who had encouraged him to pursue an acting career.

After college, the Mount Kisco, New York-native became a supporting player in"A Hatful of Rain" and other Broadway plays, and in such films as"I Want to Live!" and "Operation Petticoat."

He made guest appearances on TV shows during the 1960s, such as"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.

1 key part he auditioned for: Archie Bunker in"All in the Family." But he immediately realized that the character, immortalized by Carol O'Conner, was incorrect for him. "Immediately I thought,'This is not the script for me personally. The personality is too much of a bigot.' I can't state those 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 kids 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, to Patti Steele. But after MacLeod quit drinking, he and Steele remarried in 1985.

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