Gavin MacLeod, a prolific actor who’s arguably best known for his role as Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat, passed away early Saturday morning at the age of 90, TMZ reported.
According to a family member, MacLeod was surrounded by loved ones at his home in Palm Desert, California at the time of his death. He reportedly had been in and out of hospitals with poor health for several months, and though the exact cause of death remains unknown, the family member asserted that it was not related to COVID-19.
Ed Asner: “My heart is broken”
Variety reported that the death of MacLeod, whose real name was Allen George See, was confirmed by his nephew, Mark See.
Born in New York, See had studied acting at Ithaca College and graduated in 1952, and following a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he entered the entertainment industry in the late 1950s, at which point he changed his name to Gavin MacLeod.
He played a variety of small supporting roles in a number of films and TV shows and remained relatively unknown throughout the 1960s before he finally gained a measure of stardom on the series McHale’s Navy, though he made his big breakthrough in 1970 as the role of newswriter Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, appearing in all 168 episodes of the popular comedy until its conclusion in 1977.
Interestingly, See initially tried out for the role of the newsroom’s boss, Lou Grant, but lost out to actor Ed Asner. The pair developed a close friendship on that program, and Asner mourned the loss of MacLeod in a post on Saturday to his social media followers.
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
The iconic Captain Stubing
According to Fox News, around the time that The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended, MacLeod landed what was probably his most-remembered role of all as Captain Stubing on The Love Boat, where he piloted a cruise ship on which guest stars would fall in love.
The series lasted for 11 seasons and spawned several TV movie spinoffs, in which he reprised his role, and even led to MacLeod becoming an advertising pitchman for Princess Cruise Lines in the company’s television commercials.
Following the end of The Love Boat, MacLeod didn’t work for some time, according to Variety, though he began making guest appearances in various TV shows and movies in the 2000s, such as Touched by an Angel, The King of Queens, JAG, and That 70s Show, among others.
Christian faith a central theme later in life
Variety noted that MacLeod was first married from 1955-1972 to Joan Rootvik, and the pair had four children. He later married actress Patti Kendig in 1974, but they were divorced in 1982 — due to a problem with alcoholism according to Fox — though they were remarried in 1985 when both became devout Evangelical Christians.
MacLeod’s faith would later play an influential role in two books that he authored as well as a number of Christian-themed films and programs in which he starred.