Gordon MacRae

Active - 1927 - 2008  |   Born - Mar 12, 1921   |   Died - Jan 24, 1986   |   Genres - Musical, Drama, Romance, Music

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Biography by Hal Erickson

American actor/singer Gordon MacRae went from winning a hometown talent contest to singing at the 1939 New York World's Fair at the age of 18. Following stage and cabaret work, MacRae was introduced to film audiences via The Big Punch (1948). His robust baritone obscuring his acting defiencies, MacRae became Warner Bros.' resident male songbird in the early 1950s: he was teamed several times with Doris Day and headlined such Technicolor musicfests as About Face (1952) and The Desert Song (1953). In 1955, MacRae was selected to play Curley in the splashy, Todd-AO film version of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! (1955), where he set female hearts aflutter with such standards as "Surrey with the Fringe on Top," "Oh What a Beautiful Mornin'," "People Will Say We're in Love," and the title song. Though he registered well in Oklahoma, MacRae was not the first choice for Billy Bigelow in the 1956 filmization of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel. Frank Sinatra was to have played the irresponsible carnival barker Billy Bigelow, but a combination of throat problems and pressing prior commitments forced Sinatra to bow out, allowing MacRae to play what would be his best film role, and to sing Carousel's immortal "Soliloquy." MacRae left films in 1956 in favor of concert work and TV assignments, in which the singer appeared regularly on The Colgate Comedy Hour, Lux Video Theatre, and (surprise, surprise) The Gordon MacRae Show. At the time of his death, MacRae had been divorced for many years from Sheila MacRae, a multitalented performer in her own right; Gordon and Sheila were the parents of actresses Heather and Meredith MacRae.

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