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Meredith MacRae as Sally and Tim Considine as Mike from the television program My Three Sons, 1965
May 30, 1944|
|Died||July 14, 2000
Manhattan Beach, California
Cause of death
|Occupation||Film and television actress|
|Relatives||Heather MacRae (sister)|
Meredith Lynn MacRae (May 30, 1944 – July 14, 2000) was an American actress and singer known for her roles as Sally Ann on My Three Sons (1963–1965) and as Billie Jo on Petticoat Junction (1966–1970).
MacRae was born in Houston, Texas, to parents Gordon and Sheila MacRae. Her father was stationed in Houston at the time of her birth, but both her parents went on to be actors. She is the sister of William Gordon MacRae, Robert Bruce MacRae, and Heather MacRae.
She credited her parents with instilling a proper work ethic in her and for keeping her feet on the ground. She said, “We lived in a modest home in the San Fernando Valley instead of the fashionable Beverly Hills, which the family could have afforded. Mom and Dad didn’t want us to feel superior to the other kids. I had to earn the things I wanted, all the way from dolls to party gowns, by doing chores around the house and taking care of my younger sister and brothers. Lots of kids in my circle automatically got a car when they were 16. Not me. Dad said he would get me a car when I got straight A's two years in a row in school. I slaved away and finally made it. I got the car with the warning that if I didn’t continue with straight A's, it would be taken away.”
My Three Sons
MacRae made her breakthrough appearance as Sally Ann Morrison Douglas on the ABC (later CBS) Fred MacMurray/William Frawley sitcom, My Three Sons. She played the role for three seasons (1963–1965), before being written out of the show to further explore her career.
In 1966, MacRae signed a contract with CBS to play Billie Jo Bradley on the sitcom Petticoat Junction, starring Bea Benaderet as her television mother and Edgar Buchanan as her television uncle. Her television sisters were Betty Jo, played by Linda Kaye, and Bobbie Jo, played by Lori Saunders.
MacRae was the sitcom's third actress to portray Billie Jo. Jeannine Riley played the part in the show's first two years (1963–1965) and Gunilla Hutton in the third year (1965–1966). Both of these actresses played the role as a typical boy-crazy dumb blonde. By MacRae's debut on the series, however, Billie Jo's persona was that of a strong independent woman who focused more on a singing career, a dream she later accomplishes. She remained with the sitcom until its cancellation in 1970.
She made guest appearances on such shows as The Donald O'Connor Show (1968 version), The Dean Martin Show (1971), The F.B.I., The Rockford Files, Fantasy Island, Webster, CHiPS, Love American Style, and Magnum, P.I.. Her game show appearances included: Funny You Should Ask, Match Game, What's My Line?, I've Got a Secret, Tattletales (with then-husband Greg Mullavey), Hollywood Squares, To Tell the Truth, Password (ABC version), $10,000 Pyramid, $25,000 Pyramid, Break the Bank, Celebrity Whew!, Beat the Clock, Card Sharks, and Family Feud. Prior to this, she had even hosted an unsold game show pilot called $50,000 a Minute alongside Geoff Edwards in 1985.
In the 1980s, she hosted Mid-Morning Los Angeles and was awarded a local Emmy for her interviewing skills. Later, she created and hosted Born Famous, a PBS series on which she interviewed other children of celebrities (she was the daughter of actor/singers Sheila MacRae and Gordon MacRae).
MacRae worked to raise funds for such causes as the Children's Burn Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and United Cerebral Palsy. She was also honorary chairperson for the National Council on Alcoholism and spoke to groups all across the country.
In January 1999, MacRae experienced vertigo and a loss of short-term memory. She was misdiagnosed as being in perimenopause. She went to the doctor complaining of severe headaches and was told it was just muscle spasms and that she needed more spine stretching. She went for a second opinion and was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. She had emergency surgery to remove the brain tumor from the right front side of her head. She stopped breathing and almost died but recovered. She agreed to be part of an experimental cancer drug program but had an allergic reaction causing her brain to swell. Two more surgeries were required. Her imbalance caused her to fall and break her hip.
On July 14, 2000, MacRae died from complications of brain cancer at her Manhattan Beach home. Per her wishes, MacRae's body was cremated and her ashes were scattered in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.
MacRae married Richard Berger, former president of MGM, in 1964 but divorced four years later. In 1969, she married fellow actor Greg Mullavey (famous for Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman) and had one child with him, Alison (b. 1974), before divorcing in 1987. Her third and final marriage was in 1995 to Phillip M. Neal, Chairman and CEO of Avery-Dennison at the time of their marriage.
- "Image of a Boy"/"Time Stands Still" — Canjo 103 (1964)
- "Who Needs Memories of Him"/"Goodbye Love" — Capitol 2000 (1967)
- "I'm So Glad That You Found Me"/"If You Could Only Be Me" — Imperial 66329 (1968)
- "Wheeling, West Virginia"/"Thirty Days Hath September" — Imperial 66346 (1968)