Gordon MacRae Biography

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12 March 1921, East Orange, New Jersey, USA, d. 24 January 1986, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. A popular singer on record, radio and in films during the 50s, MacRae was the son of local radio celebrity Wee Willie MacRae, and often worked on radio as a child actor before joining the Millpond Playhouse in New York. There he met actress Sheila Stephens who became his first wife in 1941. After winning an amateur singing contest at the 1939/40 New York World’s Fair, he sang for two weeks with the Harry James and Les Brown bands. While working as a pageboy at NBC Radio, he was heard by band leader Horace Heidt who signed him for two years, during which time he appeared with Heidt, James Stewart and Paulette Goddard in a movie about Heidt’s radio giveaway show, Pot O’ Gold. After serving in the US Army Air Force Corps in World War II, MacRae returned to New York to take a singing role in the 1946 Broadway revue Three To Make Ready, starring Ray Bolger. In 1947, he signed to Capitol Records and had a string of hits up to 1954, including ‘I Still Get Jealous’, ‘At The Candlelight Cafe’, ‘It’s Magic’, ‘Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue’, ‘So In Love’, ‘Mule Train’/‘Dear Hearts And Gentle People’ and ‘Rambling Rose’. After a four-year gap, he entered the US charts again in 1958 with ‘The Secret’. MacRae also made a series of successful singles with ex-Tommy Dorsey singer Jo Stafford. These included ‘Say Something Sweet To Your Sweetheart’, ‘Bluebird Of Happiness’, ‘My Darling, My Darling’ (a US number 1), ‘A-You’re Adorable’, ‘Need You’, ‘Whispering Hope’, ‘Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo’ and ‘Dearie’.

MacRae’s film career, mostly for Warner Brothers, started in 1948 with a non-singing role in The Big Punch. This was followed by a series of musicals that included Look For The Silver Lining (1949) and The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950), both co-starring June Haver, and four films in which he was partnered by Doris Day: Tea For Two (1950), The West Point Story (1950), On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By The Light Of The Silvery Moon (1953). Among his other screen appearances were roles in The Desert Song (1953), co-starring Kathryn Grayson, and Three Sailors And A Girl (1953), with Jane Powell. In 1955 and 1956 he had the two most satisfying film parts of his career, when he played opposite Shirley Jones in highly successful adaptations of the Broadway shows Oklahoma! and Carousel. Also in 1956, MacRae appeared in his last film musical as Buddy De Sylva in The Best Things In Life Are Free, a biopic of the 20s/30s songwriting team of De Sylva, Brown And Henderson. In 1979, he made one final film appearance, in a dramatic role in The Pilot. In the mid-50s, MacRae was also popular on US television as the singing host of The Railroad Hour, The Colgate Comedy Hour, and his own Gordon MacRae Show. After divorcing his first wife, he was remarried in 1967 to Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft. In the same year, he made his first Broadway musical appearance since 1946, replacing Robert Preston in I Do! I Do! In the 70s he struggled with alcoholism and, in the early 80s, claimed that he had won the battle. He died from cancer of the mouth and jaw in January 1986.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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