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Gordon MacRae

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Gordon MacRae
MacRae in 1953
Albert Gordon MacRae

(1921-03-12)March 12, 1921
DiedJanuary 24, 1986(1986-01-24) (aged 64)
Resting placeWyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Actor
  • singer
  • TV and radio show host
Years active1939–1980
(m. 1941; div. 1967)
Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft
(m. 1967)
Children5, including Heather and Meredith

Albert Gordon MacRae (March 12, 1921 – January 24, 1986) was an American actor, singer, and television and radio host. He appeared in the film versions of two Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956), and played the leading man opposite Doris Day in On Moonlight Bay (1951) and sequel By The Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).[2]

Early life


Born in East Orange in Essex County in northeastern New Jersey, United States,[2] to parents William LaMont MacRae, a toolmaker and radio singer, and Helen Violet Sonn, a concert pianist.[3] His father was descended from Clan MacRae. MacRae attended Nottingham High School in Syracuse, New York where he was active in the Drama Club.[4] He later attended and graduated in 1940 from Deerfield Academy in Deerfield, Massachusetts and thereafter served as a navigator in IX Troop Carrier Command in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.





MacRae was a baritone. Winning a contest enabled him to sing at the 1939 New York World's Fair with the Harry James and Les Brown orchestras.[5]



He made his Broadway debut in 1942, acquiring his first recording contract soon afterwards. Many of his hit recordings were made with Jo Stafford.[2]

He was a replacement performer on Junior Miss.



On the radio in 1945, his talents were showcased on the Gordon MacRae Show on the CBS network in collaboration with the conductor Archie Bleyer.[6] In 1946, his fifteen minute variety show Skyline Roof also featured emerging musical talent, including the accordionist John Serry Sr.[7][8][9] 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.[10] The programs were later released as popular studio cast albums, most of which have been reissued on CD.[11]

In 1946, he was in the revue Three to Make Ready,[2] 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.[2] 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),[2] 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).[2] 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 (1950) starring James Cagney and Mayo, On Moonlight Bay (1951), and the all-star Korean War tribute, Starlift (1951).[2]

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).[2] 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).[2] MacRae's best known film role was Curly in the big screen adaptation of Oklahoma! (1955) alongside Shirley Jones.[2] He and Jones were used on another Rodgers and Hammerstein adaptation, Carousel (1956), at 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios).[2] MacRae played Buddy De Sylva in The Best Things in Life Are Free (1956) for 20th Century-Fox.[2]



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".[12] 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. [citation needed]

Later career


MacRae guest starred on McCloud. He had supporting roles in the films Zero to Sixty (1978) and The Pilot (1980).[2]

Personal life


He was married to Sheila MacRae from 1941 until 1967.[13] They met on the set of a play and it was "love at first sight."[14] 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.[14]

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.[2]



MacRae had cancer of the mouth and jaw.[2] He died in 1986 of pneumonia, at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, aged 64.[15] He was buried at the Wyuka Cemetery in Lincoln, Nebraska.


MacRae with Doris Day in Tea for Two (1950)
MacRae with Day in Starlift (1951)
Feature films
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 (final film role)
Short subjects
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




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.[5] From 1945 to 1948 he also hosted and performed on The Gordon MacRae Show for the CBS radio network.[6]

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 [16]
Lux Radio Theatre On Moonlight Bay May 5, 1952 [17]




Marion Hutton, Mel Tormé and MacRae on The Teentimers Club radio show (1947)
Year Single Chart positions
Hot 100
1945 "You Go to My Head"
b/w "'A' You're Adorable"
"It's Anybody's Spring"
b/w "Love Is the Sweetest Thing"
1947 "I Still Get Jealous"
b/w "I Understand"
"At the Candlelight Cafe"
b/w "I Surrender Dear"
1948 "Thoughtless" 28
"You Were Meant for Me" 22
"That Feathery Feeling"
b/w "Matinee"
"It's Magic"
b/w "Spring in December"
"Steppin' Out with My Baby"
b/w "Evelyn"
b/w "I Went Down to Virginia"
"Win or Lose"
b/w "At Your Command"
"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"
b/w "Girls Were Made to Take Care of Boys"
Both sides with Jo Stafford and The Starlighters
1949 "Down the Lane"
b/w "You Are My Love"
Both sides with Jo Stafford and The Jud Conlon Singers
"The Pussy Cat Song"
b/w "I'll String Along with You"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"So in Love"
b/w "A Rosewood Spinet"
"You're Still the Belle of the Ball"
b/w "The Melancholy Minstrel"
"'A' You're Adorable" (with Jo Stafford) 4
"Need You" (with Jo Stafford) 7
"Some Enchanted Evening"
b/w (B-side by Margaret Whiting: "A Wonderful Guy")
"Younger Than Springtime"
b/w(B-side by Margaret Whiting: "A Cock-Eyed Optimist)
"Whispering Hope"
b/w "A Thought in My Heart"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Thank You"
b/w "My One and Only Highland Fling"
Both sides with The Starlighters
"The Wedding of Lilli Marlene"
b/w "Twenty-Four Hours of Sunshine"
Both sides with The Starlighters
"I Want You to Want Me (to Want You)"
b/w "Wonderful One"
b/w "I'll String Along with You"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Mule Train" 14
"Dear Hearts and Gentle People" 19
"Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo" (with Jo Stafford) 13
"Echoes" (with Jo Stafford) 18
"The Sunshine of Your Smile"
b/w "Body and Soul"
1950 "Adeste Fidelis"
b/w "Merry Christmas Waltz"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Songs of Christmas" (Part 1) b/w "Songs of Christmas" (Part 2)
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Love's Old Sweet Song"
b/w "Juanita"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
b/w "Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday (I Love You)"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Beyond the Sunset"
b/w "Near Me"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Where Are You Gonna Be When the Moon Shines"
b/w "Driftin' Down the Dreamy Ol' Ohio"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"A Perfect Day"
b/w "The Rosary"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"I'm in the Middle of a Riddle"
b/w "Tea for Two"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
1951 "Love Means Love" (with The Ewing Sisters)
b/w "Wait For Me"
"Whispering Hope" (Reissue)
b/w "I'll String Along with You"
b/w "Beyond the Sunset"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"Ol' Man River"
b/w "On a Sunday at Coney Island"
"Down the Old Ox Road"
b/w "Cuddle Up a Little Closer"
"Cuban Love Song"
b/w "Last Night When We Were Young" (with Jo Stafford)
"On Rosary Hill"
b/w "Lover's Waltz"
Both sides with Gisele MacKenzie
"Be My Girl"
b/w "Laughing at Love"
1952 "When It's Springtime in the Rockies"
b/w "Nights of Splendor"
Both sides with Jo Stafford
"My Love"
b/w "How Close"
"Green Acres and Purple Mountains"
b/w "Baby Doll"
"These Things Shall Pass"
b/w "Gentle Hands"
"Brotherly Love"
b/w "Straight and Narrow"
1953 "How Do You Speak to an Angel" 30
"Congratulations to Someone" 28
"C'est Magnifique"
b/w "Homin' Time"
"Stranger in Paradise"
b/w "Never in a Million Years"
"I Don't Want to Walk Without You"
b/w "I Still Dream of You"
1954 "Ramona"
b/w "So in Love"
"Face to Face"
b/w "Backward, Turn Backward"
"Cara Mia"
b/w "Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep"
"Here's What I'm Here For"
b/w "Love Can Change the Stars"
1955 "You Forgot (to Tell Me That You Love Me)"
b/w "Tik-A-Tee Tik-A-Tay"
"Follow Your Heart"
b/w "Belle Notte"
"Why Break the Heart That Loves You"
b/w "Jim Bowie"
"The Surrey with the Fringe on Top"
b/w "People Will Say We're in Love"
Both sides with Ray Anthony
"Woman in Love"
b/w "Wonderful Christmas"
"Never Before and Never Again"
b/w "Fate"
1956 "I've Grown Accustomed to Your Face"
b/w "Who Are We"
"I Asked the Lord"
b/w "One Misty Morning"
b/w "Without Love"
"Endless Love"
b/w "When You Kiss Me"
1957 "Till We Meet Again"
b/w "Lonely"
b/w "Never Till Now"
1958 "If I Forget You"
b/w "Now"
"The Secret"
b/w "A Man Once Said"
"Fly Little Bluebird"
b/w "Little Do You Know"
1959 "The Stranger"
b/w "Palace of Love"
"Sound of Music"
b/w "When Did I Fall in Love"
1960 "You Were There"
b/w "Our Love Story" (with Sheila MacRae)
"If Ever I Would Leave You"
b/w "Dolce Far Niente"
1961 "Face to Face"
b/w "Sail Away"
"Ordinary People"
b/w "Impossible"
1962 "The Sweetest Sounds"
b/w "Nobody Told Me"
b/w "Warmer Than a Whisper"
1966 "If She Walked into My Life"
b/w "I Want to Be with You"
b/w "I Don't Think I'm in Love"
1968 "Only Love"
b/w "Knowing When to Leave"
  • 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.


  1. ^ Folkart, Burt A. (January 24, 1986). "Gordon MacRae, Star of 'Oklahoma,' Dies at 64". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, CA. Retrieved November 25, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 268/9. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  3. ^ Flint, Peter B. (January 25, 1986). "Gordon MacRae Dies: Star of Movie Musicals". The New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  4. ^ "The Hollywood Salon". The Nebraska Coast Connection. December 29, 2013. Retrieved February 2, 2024.
  5. ^ a b "From Page Boy To Emcee" (PDF). Radio-Vision. November 30, 1946. p. 6. Retrieved April 14, 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Gordon MacRae Show, the". Archived from the original on March 9, 2017. Retrieved March 8, 2017.
  7. ^ Eastman School of Music - University of Rochester - Sibley Music Library: John J. Serry Sr. Collection Series 4 Recordings: Item 8 audio disc "John Serry guest on the Gordon Macrea Show as "outstanding accordionist of the year" p. 18 in The John J. Serry Sr. Collection archived at the University of Rochester Eastman School of Music
  8. ^ Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalogue of Over 1800 Shows. Terrace, Vincent. McFarland 1999 p. 306 ISBN 9780786403519 Gordon MacRae Skyline Roof on Google Books
  9. ^ Eastman School of Music: Sibley Music Library: Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections Dept.- "The John Serry Sr. Collection" - Items donated to the library include an audio recording of John Serry who is named in the recording of the August 22, 1946 show as the featured accordionist by Gordon MacRae on his live broadcast and performs with Archie Bleyer's Orchestra on the show, www.esm.rochester.edu
  10. ^ "Railroad Hour .. episodic log". Otrsite.com. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  11. ^ "Gordon MacRae Discography". Castalbums.org. Retrieved October 25, 2019.
  12. ^ ""O Holy Night," Tennessee Ernie Ford and Gordon MacRae". Clevelandclassicmedia.blogspot.com. December 22, 2007. Retrieved November 25, 2010.
  13. ^ Milestones: August 4, 1967 from Time magazine
  14. ^ a b "Sheila projects aura of strength". The Salina Journal. July 14, 1974. p. 15. Retrieved April 29, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  15. ^ Flint, Peter B. (January 25, 1986). "Gordon Macrae Dies: Star of Movie Musicals". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  16. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  17. ^ Kirby, Walter (May 4, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. The Decatur Daily Review. p. 50. Retrieved May 8, 2015 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon

Further reading

  • 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