Gordon MacRae: American actor, singer (born: 1921 - died: 1986) | Biography
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Gordon MacRae
American actor, singer

Gordon MacRae

Gordon MacRae
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actor, singer
Was Actor Singer Stage actor Film actor Television actor
From United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Music
Gender male
Birth 12 March 1921, East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Death 24 January 1986, William Jennings Bryan House, Nebraska, USA (aged 64 years)
Star sign Pisces
Spouse: Sheila MacRae (1941-1967)
Children: Meredith MacRae
Deerfield Academy
Nottingham High School
star on Hollywood Walk of Fame  
Traditional pop music
The details (from wikipedia)


Albert Gordon MacRae (March 12, 1921 – January 24, 1986) was an American actor, singer and radio/television host who appeared in the film versions of two Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956) and who played the leading man opposite Doris Day in On Moonlight Bay (1951) and sequel By The Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).

Early life

Born in East Orange in Essex County in northeastern New Jersey, United States, to Scottish parents, MacRae graduated in 1940 from Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and he thereafter served as a navigator in IX Troop Carrier Command in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Before this, he attended Nottingham High School in Syracuse, New York. Gordon was descended from the Clan MacRae.



Winning a contest enabled MacRae to sing at the 1939 New York World's Fair with the Harry James and Les Brown orchestras.


He made his Broadway debut in 1942, acquiring his first recording contract soon afterwards. Many of his hit recordings were made with Jo Stafford.

He was a replacement performer on Junior Miss.


On radio in 1945, his talents were showcased on the Gordon MacRae Show on the CBS network in collaboration with the conductor Archie Bleyer. The show featured emerging musical talent, including the accordionist John Serry Sr.. MacRae was also the host and lead actor on The Railroad Hour, a half-hour anthology series made up of condensed versions of hit Broadway musicals. The programs were later released as popular studio cast albums, most of which have been reissued on CD.

In 1946, he was in the revue Three to Make Ready, which ran for 326 performances.


MacRae signed a contract with Warner Bros. in 1947. In 1948, he appeared in his first film, The Big Punch, a drama about boxing. He followed this with a film noir with Virginia Mayo, Backfire (made in 1948, released 1950).

MacRae's first on-screen musical was Look for the Silver Lining (1949), a biopic of Marilyn Miller (June Haver), where MacRae played Frank Carter. David Butler directed. MacRae was reunited with Haver and Butler in The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady (1950). Warners put him in a Western, Return of the Frontiersman (1950). Then he starred with Doris Day in Tea for Two (1950), a reworking of No, No, Nanette, also for Butler. Public response was enthusiastic. MacRae and Day were teamed again in The West Point Story (1951) starring James Cagney and Mayo, On Moonlight Bay (1951), and the all-star Korean War tribute, Starlift (1951).

MacRae was in a military school musical, About Face (1952) with Eddie Bracken, then he and Day did a sequel to On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953). That same year, he starred opposite Kathryn Grayson in the third film version of The Desert Song and teamed with Jane Powell in Three Sailors and a Girl (1953). MacRae's best known film role was Curly in the big screen adaptation of Oklahoma! (1955) alongside Shirley Jones. He and Jones were used on another Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptation, Carousel (1956), at 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios). MacRae played Buddy De Sylva in The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) for 20th Century-Fox.


MacRae appeared frequently on television, on such variety programs as The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.

He also appeared on drama shows such as Lux Video Theatre.

During Christmas 1958, MacRae and Ford performed the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night". Earlier in 1958, MacRae guest-starred on the short-lived NBC variety series The Polly Bergen Show.

He starred in the TV musical The Gift of the Magi (1958). Thereafter, MacRae appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Dinah Shore Chevy Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and The Bell Telephone Hour.


He continued his musical stage career, often performing with his wife, as in a 1964 production of Bells Are Ringing, also performing as Sky Masterson in the popular musical Guys and Dolls, with his wife playing the role of Miss Adeleide, reprising her Broadway role at the Gammage Memorial Auditorium in Tempe, Arizona.

In the late 1960s, he co-hosted for a week on The Mike Douglas Show. He also toured in summer stock and appeared in nightclubs.

In 1967, he replaced Robert Preston in the original Broadway run of the musical I Do! I Do!, starring opposite Carol Lawrence, who had taken over the role from Mary Martin.

Later career

MacRae guest starred on McCloud. He had supporting roles in the films Zero to Sixty (1978) and The Pilot (1980).

Personal life

He was married to Sheila MacRae from 1941 until 1967. They met when he was 19 and she was 16 on the set of a play and it was "love at first sight." The couple were the parents of four children: actresses Heather and Meredith MacRae, and sons William Gordon MacRae and Robert Bruce MacRae. Sheila later married television producer Ronald Wayne.

MacRae's second marriage was to Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft on September 25, 1967, and together they had one daughter, Amanda Mercedes MacRae born in 1968. They remained married until his death. He battled alcohol problems for many years, but overcame them by the late 1970s.


MacRae suffered from cancer of the mouth and jaw. He died in 1986 of pneumonia, at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, aged 64. He was buried at the Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska.


With Doris Day in Tea for Two (1950)
With Doris Day in Starlift (1951)
Year Title Role Notes
1948 The Big Punch Johnny Grant
1949 Look for the Silver Lining Frank Carter
1950 Backfire Bob Corey
1950 The Daughter of Rosie O'Grady Tony Pastor
1950 Return of the Frontiersman Logan Barrett
1950 Tea for Two Jimmy Smith
1950 The West Point Story Tom Fletcher
1951 On Moonlight Bay William Sherman
1951 Starlift Himself
1952 About Face Tony Williams
1953 By the Light of the Silvery Moon William Sherman
1953 The Desert Song El Khobar / Paul Bonnard
1953 Three Sailors and a Girl "Choirboy" Jones
1955 Oklahoma! Curly McLain
1956 Carousel Billy Bigelow
1956 The Best Things in Life Are Free Buddy DeSylva
1978 Zero to Sixty Officer Joe
1980 The Pilot Joe Barnes
Year Title Role Notes
1951 The Screen Director Himself
1952 Screen Snapshots: Fun in the Sun Himself
1953 So You Want a Television Set Himself

Stage work

  • Junior Miss (1942, Broadway, replacement for Walter Collins)
  • Three to Make Ready (1946, Broadway)
  • Carousel (1955, Music Hall at Fair Park)
  • Annie Get Your Gun (1960, Starlight Theatre)
  • Bells Are Ringing (1961, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Guys and Dolls (1963, summer stock tour)
  • Bells Are Ringing (1964, summer stock tour)
  • Jerome Kern's Theatre (1966, Avery Fisher Hall)
  • Kismet (1966, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Oklahoma! (1967, summer stock tour)
  • I Do! I Do! (1967, Broadway, replacement for Robert Preston)
  • Golden Rainbow (1969, summer stock tour)
  • Milk and Honey (1972, Columbus, Ohio)
  • Paint Your Wagon (1978, Columbus, Ohio)


MacRae replaced Frank Sinatra on a radio program in 1943, but he soon had to leave for military service. In 1946, he was the "singing emcee" of The Teentimers Club, a Saturday morning program. From 1945 to 1948 he also hosted and performed on The Gordon MacRae Show for the CBS radio network.

He also appeared in programs as shown in the table below.

Program Episode Date Notes
Stars in the Air Christmas in Connecticut March 20, 1952
Lux Radio Theatre On Moonlight Bay May 5, 1952



Marion Hutton, Mel Tormé and MacRae on The Teentimers Club radio show (1947)
Year Single Chart positions
1945 "You Go to My Head"
"It's Anybody's Spring"
1947 "I Still Get Jealous"
"At the Candlelight Cafe"
1948 "Thoughtless" 28
"You Were Meant for Me" 22
"That Feathery Feeling"
"It's Magic"
"Steppin' Out with My Baby"
"Win or Lose"
"Hair of Gold Eyes of Blue" 7
"Rambling Rose" 27
"Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart" 10
"Bluebird of Happiness" 16
"My Darling, My Darling"
1949 "Down the Lane"
"The Pussy Cat Song" 26
"So in Love"
"You're Still the Belle of the Ball"
"'A' You're Adorable" 4
"Need You" 7
"Some Enchanted Evening"
"Younger Than Springtime"
"Whispering Hope"
"Thank You"
"The Wedding of Lilli Marlene"
"I Want You to Want Me (to Want You)"
"Mule Train" 14
"Dear Hearts and Gentle People" 19
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" 13
"Echoes" 18
"The Sunshine of Your Smile"
1950 "Adeste Fidelis"
"Songs of Christmas" (Part 1) -
"Love's Old Sweet Song"
"Beyond the Sunset"
"Where Are You Gonna Be When the Moon Shines"
"A Perfect Day"
"I'm in the Middle of a Riddle"
1951 "Love Means Love" -
"Whispering Hope" -
"Ol' Man River"
"Down the Old Ox Road"
"Cuban Love Song"
"On Rosary Hill"
"Be My Girl"
1952 "When It's Springtime in the Rockies"
"My Love"
"Green Acres and Purple Montains"
"These Things Shall Pass"
"Brotherly Love"
1953 "How Do You Speak to an Angel" 30
"Congratulations to Someone" 28
"C'est Magnifique"
"Stranger in Paradise"
"I Don't Want to Walk Without You"
1954 "Ramona"
"Face to Face"
"Cara Mia"
"Here's What I'm Here For"
1955 "You Forgot (to Tell Me That You Love Me)"
"Follow Your Heart"
"Why Break the Heart That Loves You"
"The Surrey with the Fringe on Top"
"Woman in Love"
"Never Before and Never Again"
1956 "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face"
"I Asked the Lord"
"Endless Love"
1957 "Till We Meet Again"
1958 "If I Forget You"
"The Secret"
"Fly Little Bluebird"
1959 "The Stranger"
"Sound of Music"
1960 "You Were There"
"If Ever I Would Leave You"
1961 "Face to Face"
"Ordinary People"
1962 "The Sweetest Sounds"
1966 "If She Walked into My Life"
1968 "Only Love"

In popular culture

  • MacRae is mentioned in the song "Oklahoma U.S.A." by The Kinks, as the song's subject daydreams of "riding in the surrey with the fringe on top" with "Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae".
  • In a 1980 episode of Alice called "Dog Day Evening", Vera uses Gordon MacRae's name in a rhyming game.
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 26 Nov 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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