With his handsome boy-next-door looks, deep baritone, and glorious smile, Gordon MacRae found success as a recording artist, film actor, and television and radio personality. He recorded for Capitol Records for more than two decades, and starred in two of the most popular musicals of the 1950s, the movie versions of Richard Rodgers' and Oscar Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and Carousel, both of which had appeared previously on Broadway.
Beginning in 1947, MacRae's releases for Capitol were quite successful. Through 1954 he scored numerous hits, among them "Rambling Rose," "So in Love," "It's Magic," "I Still Get Jealous," "Hair of Gold, Eyes of Blue," and "At the Candlelight Café." Following an absence of four years from the charts, "The Secret" brought about his return.
MacRae's chart success was not limited to solo efforts. He also collaborated with Jo Stafford, who previously sang for Tommy Dorsey's outfit. MacRae and Stafford hit the top of U.S. charts with "My Darling, My Darling." The duo also released the singles "A -- You're Adorable," "Say Something Sweet to Your Sweetheart," "Whispering Hope," "Bluebird of Happiness," "Dearie," and "Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo." MacRae also put out an album in collaboration with his first wife, Sheila MacRae, an actress and singer.
The performer's full name at birth was Albert Gordon MacRae. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in Syracuse, NY. During his high school years he was a member of the drama club. In addition to singing, he also could hold his own on the saxophone, clarinet, and piano. During his late teens, a contest win took him to New York, where he performed for several weeks during the World's Fair. The engagement gave him the opportunity to sing with professionals such as Les Brown and Harry James. The following year, Horace Heidt hired MacRae as a vocalist for his band. The singer stayed with Heidt's outfit for a couple of years before enlisting in the armed forces, where he received training in navigation.
After his war service, MacRae debuted on Broadway, taking over for Tommy Arbuckle in Junior Miss. In 1946 he moved on to Three to Make Ready, Ray Bolger's Broadway revue. The production brought him to the attention of Capitol and led to his contract with the company. During the late '40s MacRae landed a starring role in the music-based program The Railroad Hour, where he remained through 1954 despite a change of networks. During this period Warner Brothers snapped him up for its motion pictures, giving MacRae a seven-year deal and launching him in The Big Punch. A number of movie roles followed, casting him opposite such actresses as Doris Day, June Haver, Shirley Jones, Jane Powell, and Kathryn Grayson.
MacRae bowed out of the movies in the mid-'50s and concentrated on television work and live concerts. He hosted his own program, The Gordon MacRae Show, and frequently turned up on such popular television shows as The Colgate Comedy Hour. He began struggling with alcoholism by the end of the 1950s, but by the 1970s he claimed to have wrested control over the addiction. In 1982 MacRae was struck down by a stroke, but he endured until 1986, when he died of pneumonia. He also suffered from cancer. MacRae and his first wife divorced in 1967. The marriage produced four children, among them actresses Meredith MacRae and Heather MacRae. He wed Liz Schrafft in 1967, and the couple raised one child. ~ Linda Seida