‘The best, sweetest, purest guy’: Love Boat star dies aged 90

Gavin MacLeod, known for his roles on classic US sitcoms The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Love Boat, has died aged 90.

He died early on Saturday at his home in Palm Desert, California, his stepdaughter Stephanie Steele Zalin said.

She attributed his death to his age and said he had been well until very recently.

The case of The Love Boat in 1983. (From left) Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Jill Whalen, Gavin MacLeod, Lauren Tewes and Bernie Kopell. Pic AP
Image:MacLeod (fourth from left) in The Love Boat in 1983

“He had one of the most amazing, fun blasts of a life of anybody I know. He enjoyed every minute of it,” she said.

“I don’t even think in his wildest dreams he dreamt of the life that he ended up having and creating.”

She called him the “best, sweetest, purest guy”.

Ed Asner, who worked alongside MacLeod on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, tweeted “my heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator”.

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McLeod had originally auditioned for the show’s TV boss, Lou Grant, the role that went to Asner.

My heart is broken. Gavin was my brother, my partner in crime (and food) and my comic conspirator. I will see you in a bit Gavin. Tell the gang I will see them in a bit. Betty! It’s just you and me now. pic.twitter.com/se4fwh7G1G

— Ed Asner (@TheOnlyEdAsner) May 29, 2021

But when he realised he wasn’t right for playing the short-tempered newsroom leader, MacLeod asked if he could audition instead for the wisecracking TV news writer.

The show was a hit from the start and remains a sitcom classic, ending after seven seasons, and winning 29 Emmy Awards.

MacLeod moved on to play the captain in The Love Boat, a romantic comedy in which guest stars ranging from Gene Kelly to Janet Jackson would come aboard for a cruise in the hope of finding love.

Former cast members of the Mary Tyler More Show reunited in 1992. (From left) Gavin MacLeod, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, Betty White and Ed Asner. Pic AP
Image:Former cast of The Mary Tyler More Show in 1992, with MacLeod on the left. Pic AP

“The critics hated it. They called it mindless TV, but we became goodwill ambassadors,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 2013.

The show ran from 1977 to 1987.

Among his final TV credits were Touched by An Angel, JAG and The King of Queens.

MacLeod had four children with his first wife, Joan Rootvik, whom he divorced in the early 1970s.

He was the son of an alcoholic and his own drinking problems led to a second divorce – from actor-dancer Patti Steele.

After MacLeod quit drinking, he and Steele remarried in 1985.

Raised Catholic, he credited Steele for their shared born-again faith. The couple hosted a Christian radio show called Back on Course: A Ministry for Marriages.

MacLeod also had three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, who was born in December.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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