Gerald McRaney’s Life before Delta Burke: ‘Responsibly Discouraging’ Parents & 2 Marriages


Gerald McRaney is a television and movie actor who has enjoyed a long career in the film industry spanning over five decades. From “Simon & Simon” to “Major Dad” and “House of Cards,” he has brought joy to his fans worldwide.

Even though he started his career in the late 1960s, it wasn’t until the early 1980s that he gained recognition for his works. One thing fans love about him is that he can absorb any role and deliver his best act.

Despite his success, his parents were not initially thrilled by his wanting to become an actor. They had felt it was a “responsibly discouraging” idea.

Portrait of Gerald McRaney on January 1, 1985 (left), Delta Burke and Gerald McRaney on the set of “Designing Women” (right) | Photo: Getty Images


Gerald Lee McRaney, known as “Mac” to his family and friends, was born in Mississippi on August 19, 1947. McRaney, who was also raised in Mississippi, is very proud of his southern roots.

Growing up, he never knew what career path he wanted to follow. Being an actor was not something he had considered, even though every kid in his era had fantasies of being John Wayne.

After sustaining a knee injury while playing football in junior high, he thought that would be the end of his world. However, with time, he realized that was the best thing that ever happened to him.

The knee injury created a butterfly effect, and he started considering being an actor. After the injury, a teacher put him on stage in a one-act play where he played the role of a dwarf.

His role in the play piqued his interest in acting, and he started studying it. He believed that if he could do that play, he could be an actor. In high school, he moved back to his homeland on the gulf coast of Mississippi.

The little town he moved to had a girls’ college with a theatre department. Also, there were little theatre companies all up and down the gulf coast.

The girls’ college desperately wanted young men to take part in their plays. At that point, he knew he could do it even though his parents felt the idea of being an actor was a “responsibly discouraging” thing.

When he was in college and was a theatre major, his parents sent his brother, nine years older than him, to talk sense into him. After the play that he was performing in was over, he talked with his brother.

However, McRaney’s brother told him that he was good at what he was doing, and if McRaney ever needed help, he knew where to find him. Afterward, his brother went back home and talked with their parents.

Consequently, McRaney never heard any discouraging statements about his being an actor again. Once he got encouragement from his brother, he knew anything was possible.

It wasn’t easy for him, and he had to do all kinds of jobs to support himself. He worked in an oil field in the Gulf of Mexico at some point.

He also drove a cab at night with the Beverly Hills cab company to have time for auditions during the day. Also, being a cab driver allowed him to make money to pay for his rent, acting classes, and more.

As a driver, he picked up different types of people, which helped him with character studies. One night, a robber tried to rob him, but he didn’t have any money on him. Fortunately, the thief had a sense of humor about the scenario.

He started his acting career as a guest star in the 1955 Western drama series “Gunsmoke.” In 1969, he made his first movie appearance in a low-budget film titled “Night of Bloody Horror.”

After his first series, the actor who likes putting on different characters from time to time appeared in several shows where he played the villain.

Between 1981 and 1989, McRaney experienced great popularity in “Simon & Simon.” In the series, McRaney played the role of Rick Simon, starring alongside Jameson Parker, who was his TV brother.

His next successful hit series was “Major Dad” between 1989 and 1993, where he played the role of Major John D. MacGillis. He starred in other series like “Promised Land,” “House of Cards,” “This Is Us,” and “Filthy Rich.”

His role as Dr. Nathan Katowski in “This Is Us” earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series in 2017.

Gerald McRaney visits Hallmark Channel’s “Home & Family” at Universal Studios Hollywood on September 17, 2020, in Universal City | Photo: Getty Images


Besides acting, McRaney loves the outdoors and likes to go hunting and fishing with his TV brother Parker. He is also a founding board member for The Entertainment Industries Council for a Drug-Free Society.

McRaney has been married three times in his life. In 1966, before he started acting, he got married to Beverly Root and divorced in 1971. Their marriage produced two children.

After years of being single, he married Pat Moran on November 14, 1981, but they divorced in 1989 after one child. Moran is a mid-Atlantic-based Casting Director.

Moran has been nominated for an Emmy in Outstanding Casting ten times and has won three Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Casting.

Moran is an experienced casting director and producer with a strong theater background. She was the first to win Emmy Awards for casting across all three genres: Comedy, Drama & Limited Series/TV Movies.

Moran is also involved in pre and post productions and has worked on every John Waters film. Shortly after she and McRaney were divorced, he married Actress, Producer, and Author Delta Burke.

Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke during Delta Burke Makes Broadway Debut in “Thoroughly Modern Millie” at The Marquis Theater in New York, on September 30, 2003 | Photo: Getty Images

McRaney and Burke had met when she made a guest appearance on “Simon & Simon.” Even though this was McRaney’s third marriage, it was Burke’s first.

Currently, McRaney is starring as retired Admiral Hollace Kilbride on “NCIS: Los Angeles.” McRaney made his first appearance in the series in 2014 but has become a regular on the show.

In his role, he counsels and advises the Los Angeles division of the NCIS Special Projects unit during their undercover operations.

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