Gordon MacRae

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For the hockey player, see Gord McRae.
Gordon MacRae
Gordon MacRae 1953.JPG
MacRae in 1953.
Born Albert Gordon MacRae
(1921-03-12)March 12, 1921
East Orange, New Jersey, US
Died January 24, 1986(1986-01-24) (aged 64)
Bryan Memorial Hospital
Lincoln, Nebraska
Cause of death Mouth and jaw cancer and pneumonia[1]
Resting place Wyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska
Alma mater Nottingham High School
Deerfield Academy
Occupation Actor/Singer, TV and radio show host/personality
Years active 1942-1980
Spouse(s) Sheila MacRae
Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft
(m.1967–1986; his death)
Children 5; including Heather MacRae
Meredith MacRae

Gordon MacRae (March 12, 1921 – January 24, 1986)[2] was an American actor and singer, best known for his appearances in the film versions of two Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956), and playing Bill Sherman in On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By The Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).

Early life[edit]

Born Albert Gordon MacRae in East Orange in Essex County in northeastern New Jersey, MacRae graduated in 1940 from Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and he thereafter served as a navigator in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II. Prior to this, he attended Nottingham High School in Syracuse, New York.


Winning a contest enabled MacRae to sing at the 1939 New York World's Fair with Harry James' and Les Brown's orchestras.[3]

He made his Broadway debut in 1942, acquiring his first recording contract soon afterwards. Many of his hit recordings were made with Jo Stafford. It was in 1948 that he appeared in his first film, The Big Punch, a drama about boxing. He soon began an on-screen partnership with Doris Day and appeared with her in several films.

In 1950, he starred with Doris Day in "Tea for Two" (a reworking of "No, No, Nanette"), then in 1951, he starred again with Doris Day in On Moonlight Bay, followed by the 1953 sequel By the Light of the Silvery Moon. That same year, he also starred opposite Kathryn Grayson in the third film version of The Desert Song. This was followed by leading roles in two major films of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956), both films opposite Shirley Jones.

On radio, he was the host and lead actor on The Railroad Hour, a half-hour anthology series made up of condensed versions of hit Broadway musicals.[4] Many of those programs were recorded later in popular studio cast albums: most of these recordings have been reissued on CDs.[5]

MacRae appeared frequently on television, on such programs as The Martha Raye Show and The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford, both on NBC. On Christmas 1958, MacRae and Ford performed the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night".[6] Earlier in 1958, MacRae guest starred on the short-lived NBC variety series, The Polly Bergen Show.

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.[7] 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.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to Sheila MacRae from 1941 until 1967;[8] the couple were the parents of four children: actresses Heather and Meredith MacRae, and sons William Gordon MacRae and Robert Bruce MacRae. Two of the children, Meredith MacRae and Robert Bruce MacRae, predeceased their mother, Sheila.

Gordon MacRae was married, secondly, to Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft on September 25, 1967, and fathered one daughter, Amanda Mercedes MacRae in 1968. They remained married until his death. He was buried at the Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska.[2]


Feature films
Year Title Role
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 Bill Sherman
1951 Starlift Himself
1952 About Face Tony Williams
1953 By the Light of the Silvery Moon Bill 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
Short subjects
Year Title Role
1951 The Screen Director Himself
1952 Screen Snapshots: Fun in the Sun Himself
1953 So You Want a Television Set Himself (Cameo appearance)

Stage work[edit]


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 on NBC.[3]

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 [9]
Lux Radio Theatre On Moonlight Bay May 5, 1952 [10]



Year Single Chart positions
Hot 100
1947 "I Still Get Jealous" 25
"At the Candlelight Cafe" 20
1948 "Thoughtless" 28
"You Were Meant For Me" 22
"That Feathery Feeling" 27
"It's Magic" 9
"Hankerin'" 23
"Hair of Gold Eyes of Blue" 7
"Rambling Rose" 27
"Say Something Sweet To Your Sweetheart"with Jo Stafford 10
"Bluebird of Happiness"with Jo Stafford 16
"My Darling, My Darling"with Jo Stafford 1
1949 "The Pussy Cat Song"with Jo Stafford 26
"So In Love" 20
"A You're Adorable"with Jo Stafford 4
"Need You"with Jo Stafford 7
"Younger Than Springtime" 30
"Whispering Hope"with Jo Stafford 4
"Mule Train" 14
"Dear Hearts and Gentle People" 19
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo"with Jo Stafford 13
"Echoes"with Jo Stafford 18
1950 "Dearie"with Jo Stafford 10
1953 "How Do You Speak To an Angel" 30
"Congratulations To Someone" 28
"C'est Magnifique" 29
"Stranger In Paradise" 29
1954 "Face To Face" 30
1956 "I've Grown Accustomed To Your Face" 96
1958 "The Secret" 18

In popular culture[edit]

  • 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." He is also mentioned in the second episode of The Golden Palace.
  • He is Godfather to Shirley Jones and Jack Cassidy's son, Shaun Cassidy.


  1. ^ Gordon MacRae Dies: Star of Movie Musicals from The New York Times
  2. ^ a b Gordon MacRae at Find a Grave
  3. ^ a b "From Page Boy To Emcee" (PDF). Radio-Vision. November 30, 1946. p. 6. Retrieved 14 April 2016. 
  4. ^ The Railroad Hour Episode Log
  5. ^ Gordon MacRae on CastAlbums.org
  6. ^ ""O Holy Night," Tennessee Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae". clevelandclassicmedia.blogspot.com. Retrieved November 25, 2010. 
  7. ^ at the Grady Gammage Auditorium in Phoenix, Arizona - theater in the round
  8. ^ Milestones: August 4, 1967 from Time magazine
  9. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read
  10. ^ Kirby, Walter (May 4, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved May 8, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.  open access publication - free to read

Further reading[edit]

  • Hollywood Mother of The Year – Sheila MacRae's Own Story, by Sheila MacRae & H. Paul Jeffreys. (Birch Lane Press, 1992) ISBN 978-1559721127
  • Gordon MacRae: A Bio-Bibliography by Bruce B. Leiby. (Greenwood Press, 1991) ISBN 978-0313266331

External links[edit]