Gavin MacLeod, the actor who starred on the classic sitcom The Mary Tyler Moore Show and captained The Love Boat, has died at the age of 90.
MacLeod’s nephew Mark See confirmed the actor’s May 29th death to Variety. While no cause of death was provided, See noted that MacLeod’s health had declined in recent months.
Ed Asner, MacLeod’s castmate on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, tweeted following news of the actor’s death, “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 [White]! It’s just you and me now.” The cast of the legendary sitcom also included Moore, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman, who have all died within the past five years; Leachman died in January 2021.
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. pic.twitter.com/se4fwh7G1G
— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) May 29, 2021
Born Allen See in Mount Kisco, New York on February 28th, 1931 — he changed his “confusing” name at the behest of an acting coach, he wrote in his memoir This Is Your Captain Speaking — MacLeod studied acting at Ithaca College, graduating in 1952.
After making his TV debut with a small role on a 1957 episode of The Walter Winchell Files, MacLeod accrued bit parts in movies and on television shows throughout the late Fifties before landing a guest spot on The Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961 — his first time working with Moore — and his first significant TV role on the sitcom McHale’s Navy. After playing Seaman Joseph Haines on over 70 episodes, MacLeod would eventually that sitcom in order to appear alongside Steve McQueen in the 1966 war film The Sand Pebbles.
In 1970, MacLeod was cast as news writer Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show; he first auditioned for the role of producer Lou Grant, which went to Asner. MacLeod appeared on all 168 episodes of the acclaimed sitcom’s seven-season run and, almost immediately following the show’s conclusion in 1977, landed a role that would keep him on television consistently for another decade: Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat.
Following that series’ nine-season (plus television movies) run, MacLeod continued to be a fixture on television, appearing on multiple episodes of The King of Queens and That 70’s Show, as well as guest spots on Oz, JAG and Murder, She Wrote.
Asner paid tribute to MacLeod Saturday in an interview with Variety. “He made everything easy,” he said of his former co-star. “He was a lovely soul who will make heaven brighter.”