Gerald McRaney was 14 when he was possessed with the notion to become an actor. Five years later, McRaney landed a job with a New Orleans rep company, laboring away as an oil-field worker during the off-season. In 1969, he made his film bow in the Southern-fried cheapie The Night of Bloody Horror. Moving to LA in 1971, he took acting lessons with Jeff Corey, struggling to lose his Mississippi accent, and drove a cab between TV jobs. For nearly a decade, McRaney paid the rent by playing murderers, psychos and rapists. The actor was finally "humanized" as down-home, college-educated private eye Rick Simon on the breezy detective series Simon and Simon, which ran from 1981 to 1988. After this, he was briefly considered for the starring role in Coach; instead, he was cast as Marine major J. D. "Mac" McGillis in the long-running (1989-93) family sitcom Major Dad. He made his directorial debut with the 1991 TV movie Love and Curses...And All That Jazz, in which he also starred. In 1995, he was brought in to hypo the flagging CBS drama series Central Park West; when this series tanked, he resurfaced as the star of the "family values" weekly drama Promised Land (1996), a spin-off of his guest appearance on TV's Touched by an Angel. McRaney's second wife was Designing Woman co-star Delta Burke.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Is part Scottish and Choctaw Indian.
- Turned to acting in junior high after a knee injury sidelined him from playing football.
- Worked on offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico after leaving college.
- First TV appearance was on Night Gallery in 1972.
- Was the last gunfighter to face Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke.
- Met future wife Delta Burke at a luncheon in 1987 and soon landed a guest appearance as her ex-husband on Designing Women.