He could have probably made a career playing professional football had Fate not intervened when he injured his knee in junior high school while playing the game. And so, he decided to make the most of his God-given talent by joining his high school drama club. Ask Gerald McRaney and he would tell you that hitting the big time as an actor truly does not come in a silver platter because in the ensuing years, he would work in the oil fields of Louisiana to support his family while in between jobs playing small acting roles and guest appearances.
Known as “Mac” to his friends and family, Gerald McRaney was born on 19 August 1947 in Collins, Mississippi where he obtained his education at the University of Mississippi. After appearing in small TV roles and starring in small budget films in the 60s and 70s, he was able to get one foot into the big time in 1981 when he portrayed Rick Simon, a Marine Corps officer on “Simon and Simon,” which aired for 8 seasons on CBS. Then, in 1989 he played Major John D. MacGillis, a Marine Corps officer in “Major Dad,” which he produced and starred in and which ran for 4 seasons also on CBS. With the door to stardom now wide open for him, Mac went on to play prominent roles in popular TV series such as “Designing Women,” “The West Wing,” “Deadwood,” “Jericho,” and “CSI: Crime Scene Investigators,” to name a few.
A hunting aficionado and a member of the National Rifle Association, Gerald McRaney co-hosted “The World of Beretta,” a cable outdoor hunting series that highlighted hunting rifles and shotguns manufactured by program sponsors often featuring celebrities to hunt with him in locations all over the world.
As he played the roles of a Marine in his break through TV series, “Simon and Simon,” and “Major Dad,” Gerald McRaney, who has never been a soldier in real life, has a soft spot in his heart for veterans and U.S. servicemen. A USO veteran, he has traveled to many of the world’s hot spots to sign autographs and shake the hands of U.S. troops deployed in these areas. He has visited American soldiers stationed in Somalia during “Operation Restore Hope” in 1993 and personally delivered a message of support that wished victory for the troops deployed in the Persian Gulf during “Operation Desert Storm. He spent one Thanksgiving Day away from his family visiting and signing autographs for American sailors ported in Toulon, France. For his work, he was presented with the Audie Murphy Patriotism Award during the Spirit of America Festival.
A conservative Republican, Gerald McRaney says that the only way he can have a positive effect on people’s lives through his work is by filling their loneliness and letting them know that they are not alone in whatever challenges that they face in their daily lives.