May 29, 2021: Gavin MacLeod, ‘Love Boat’ and ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ Star, Dies

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The Love Boat’s longtime principal cast (Photo: Princess Cruises; used with permission)

Gavin MacLeod, who starred as Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show for seven seasons and then as Captain Merrill Stubing on the hit TV series, The Love Boat, for another ten, died May 29, 2021, at his home in Palm Desert, Calif. The veteran actor was 90. The cause of death was not revealed. Upon hearing the news of his passing, actor Ed Asner, who portrayed the gruff but fair news director of fictional TV station WJM on Moore’s beloved series, wrote, “My heart is broken. 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.” The “Betty” that Asner was referring to was, of course, Betty White. Asner himself was 91; White was 99. Both died later that same year.

MacLeod deftly transitioned from the one iconic series to the other. And when The Love Boat docked in 1986, he officially became Princess Cruises’ global ambassador, appearing in a vast array of advertising campaigns and countless public and media appearances for the company. His role for Princess continued until his passing.

In a statement, the cruise line noted, “All of us at Princess Cruises and our loyal guests around the world whom, to this day, remain avid fans of Gavin’s, send our heartfelt condolences to his wife Patricia (Patti) and his entire family who have lost a loving husband, father and grandfather. We offer our sincerest gratitude to them for sharing Gavin with all of us for so many years.”

In his six decades on television, MacLeod will always be readily identified for his roles in the groundbreaking The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Love Boat, but like so many in Hollywood, MacLeod wasn’t an overnight success and he worked his way up following his dream to become and actor starting at the young age of four.

MacLeod, born on Feb. 28, 1931, in Mount Kisco, NY, made his television debut in 1957 on The Walter Winchell File at the age of 26. In 1961, he landed a guest role on The Dick Van Dyke Show as Mel’s cousin Maxwell Cooley, a wholesale jeweler. That marked his first time working with Mary Tyler Moore.

In 1962, MacLeod made his debut as a series regular on McHale’s Navy as Joseph Haines and appeared more than 70 times between 1962 and 1964. When The Mary Tyler Moore Show debuted on CBS in September 1970, he starred alongside Moore, White, Asner, Ted Knight and Valerie Harper. MacLeod appeared on all 168 episodes of the series and received two Golden Globe nominations for his role.

Watch a legendary scene featuring the full cast

Watch MacLeod talk about how segued from the newsroom to the sea

In 1977, The Love Boat premiered on the ABC Television Network’s popular Saturday night lineup. MacLeod starred as Captain Merrill Stubing, his most popular leading television role. His shipmate co-stars were portrayed by Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, and Jill Whelan. The series ran for 10 seasons from 1977 to 1986.

During its run, featured some of the biggest guest stars of the day including Florence Henderson, Marion Ross, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, and Loni Anderson. The list includes 32 Academy Award-winning actors. MacLeod’s role earned him three Golden Globe nominations and the lifelong recognition of being everyone’s favorite cruise ship captain.

MacLeod was featured on Saturday nights in primetime for 16 straight years.

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  1. bewolf5
    #1 bewolf5 30 May, 2021, 16:08

    Always enjoyed his small role as crew chief/mechanic Moriarty on Donald “Oddball” Sutherland’s tank in the movie “Kelly’s Heroes”. He was easily overlooked in the all-star cast that included Clint “Kelly” Eastwood, Telly Savalas, Carroll O’Connor, Don Rickles, amongst other familiar faces.

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