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Gavin MacLeod (1931–2021), starred as Captain Stubing on “The Love Boat”

by Linnea Crowther

Gavin MacLeod was an actor known for his roles on TV shows including “The Love Boat,” “McHale’s Navy,” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

Acting career

Best known as Captain Merrill Stubing on “The Love Boat,” a role he played from 1977 to 1986, MacLeod was nominated for three Golden Globes for the role and parlayed his fame portraying the cruise ship’s captain into a gig as global ambassador for Princess Cruises. Prior to his tenure on “The Love Boat,” MacLeod had his first taste of fame playing Joseph “Happy” Haines on “McHale’s Navy” from 1962 to 1964, when he left the show in pursuit of larger roles. His breakout performance came in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” where he played news writer Murray Slaughter from 1970 to 1977. He was also in movies including “The Sand Pebbles” and “Kelly’s Heroes.” In later years, MacLeod made appearances on TV shows including “The King of Queens,” “That ‘70s Show,” and “The Suite Life on Deck.”

The iconic role MacLeod turned down

When MacLeod got a call from his agent about an audition for Mary Tyler Moore’s (1936–2017) new show, he was thrilled, he said in a 2017 interview with Maritime Matters. He loved the scripts the show’s producers sent him, but he wasn’t sure about the role they wanted him to audition for – Lou Grant. Having worked with Moore when he guest starred on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” MacLeod didn’t feel he was the right choice to play her boss. He auditioned for the Lou Grant role, then asked if he could try reading for the role of Murray Slaughter. He ultimately got the role he really wanted, and Ed Asner was unforgettable as Lou Grant in a role that spun off to its own show during the years when MacLeod was creating his own iconic role on “The Love Boat.”


Notable quote

“Sometimes you don’t get a second chance. You need to take a chance when you have the opportunity. Always.” —from MacLeod’s memoir, “This Is Your Captain Speaking”

Tributes to Gavin MacLeod

Full obituary: The New York Times

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