Gordon MacRae

Gordon MacRae

East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey, USA
Death 24 Jan 1986 (aged 64)
Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, USA
Burial Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, USA
Plot Lot: Sec-4 Lot-5405 Sp-6
Memorial ID 3123 · View Source
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Actor, Singer. He is best remembered for his starring roles in the movies "Oklahoma" (1955) and "Carousel" (1956). Born Albert Gordon MacRae in East Orange, New Jersey, he was the son of radio star "Wee Willie" MacRae, and his concert pianist mother. When he was very young, his family moved to Syracuse NY, where he attended Nottingham High School, participating in the Drama Club. It was during this time that he also learned to play the piano, the clarinet and the saxophone. He also attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts, where he actively participated in varsity football, baseball, basketball, track, hockey and swimming. In later years, he became an avid golfer, playing occasionally against his acting friends Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Shortly after his graduation from high school, he won a singing contest sponsored by Picture Magazine; the prize was a two week engagement at the New York World's Fair performing with the Harry James and Les Brown bands. Shortly afterwards, he obtained work as a singer with the Horace Heidt Band in New York City. In May 1941, he wed actress Sheila Margot Stephens; they would have four children: Meredith, Heather, William and Robert. Of the four, Meredith and Heather MacRae would both pursue acting careers. During World War II, he joined the Army Air Force, serving as a navigator for two years. At the end of the war, he returned to New York city, where he made his Broadway debut in the show "Junior Miss." In 1946, he appeared in the Broadway show "Three to Make Ready" in which a Capitol Records talent scout saw him and signed him to a long term recording contract; he would stay with Capitol Records for the next twenty years. In 1948, he signed a seven year contract with Warner Brothers Studio, and made his film acting debut in "The Big Punch" (1948). His next film was a musical, "Look for the Silver Lining" (1949) in which his singing talent made him the lead actor, and a number of musical films were soon to follow which highlighted his singing ability. His best remembered roles were as Curly in "Oklahoma!" (1955), and as Billy Bigelow in "Carousel" (1956). In 1956, he moved to television with his own show, "The Gordon MacRae Show" which lasted only one season. At this stage, he also began drinking heavily, becoming an alcoholic. Eventually, he conquered the disease, but it may have cost him his marriage; Sheila divorced him in 1967, although he remarried just four months later to Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft; she would remain with him until the end of his life. During the 1960s he appeared often on the Ed Sullivan Show. His last film was in 1979, in the supporting role of Joe Barnes in "The Pilot" in which Cliff Robertson held the lead role. Suffering a stroke in 1982, he continued with the support of his second wife, Elizabeth, and his children, touring and singing hits from his earlier years, until his health began to fail. He died in 1986 of pneumonia, from complications due to cancer of the mouth and jaw at his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, at the age of 64.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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"Nothing Is Lost In God's World"

Gordon Will Always Be Remembered
Wherever Beautiful Music Is Heard
-President Ronald Reagan



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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 6 Jul 1998
  • Find a Grave Memorial 3123
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Gordon MacRae (12 Mar 1921–24 Jan 1986), Find a Grave Memorial no. 3123, citing Wyuka Cemetery, Lincoln, Lancaster County, Nebraska, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .