Best remembered for his high-profile acting roles on two 1970s television sitcoms -- that of genial news writer Murray Slaughter on CBS's The Mary Tyler Moore Show (1970-1977) and that of sweet-natured Captain Merrill Stubing on ABC's The Love Boat (1977-1986), stage-trained actor Gavin MacLeod in fact began his career typecast as a villain. He landed parts in Hollywood features including The Sand Pebbles (1966), Deathwatch (1966), and The Comic (1969), and enjoyed a tenure as Joseph "Happy" Haines on the sitcom McHale's Navy from 1962 through 1964.
After The Love Boat permanently laid anchor in the mid-'80s, MacLeod signed on as a spokesperson and pitchman for Princess Cruises and returned to regional theatrical work. He also tackled guest spots on programs including Touched by an Angel and (in a move that surprised everyone) the HBO prison drama Oz. Off-camera, MacLeod is an outspoken born-again Christian. He hosted a popular talk show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, along with his wife, Patti (whom he divorced in 1982 and remarried three years later), called Back on Course, and personally funded many of the Greatest Adventure Stories from the Bible animated videos for children.