`Love Boat' Captain Gavin MacLeod Dies At Age 90

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Actor Gavin MacLeod, known for his television roles on ``The Love Boat'' and ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show.'' has died at his home in Palm Desert. He was 90.  

The sitcom star died early Saturday morning surrounded by loved ones, according to his family.  

The actor, author and Christian activist had a career that spanned six decades.  

MacLeod's success on the small screen included playing Joseph ``Happy'' Haines in ``McHale's Navy'' in the early 1960s, then newswriter Murray Slaughter on the 1970s ``The Mary Tyler Moore Show.''  

In a 2003 interview, MacLeod told the Archive of American Television that he had originally been considered for the part of Mary's boss, Lou Grant, ``but I wouldn't believe myself being [character Mary Richard's] boss , but I liked this guy Murray Slaughter.''  

The part of the boss eventually went to actor Ed Asner, who remembered his co-star on Twitter Saturday.  

``My heart is broken,'' Asner tweeted. ``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 [White]! It's just you and me now.''  

White played Sue Ann Nevins, host of the ``Happy Homemaker'' cooking show on the series.  

From 1977 to 1986, MacLeod starred on ``The Love Boat,'' cast memorably as Captain Merrill Stubing, who steered a crew and weekly guest stars through nine TV seasons.  

Late Saturday, Santa Clarita-based Princess Cruises paid tribute to MacLeod.  

``It is with sadness felt to the depth of the oceans that we mourn the passing of actor Gavin MacLeod our beloved global ambassador, dearest friend and treasured member of the Princess Cruises family for more than 35 years,'' the statement reads.  ``From his 10 seasons staring as Captain Merrill Stubing on the hit TV show `The Love Boat' and for more than three decades following the show's final season, Gavin enthusiastically shared his passion about the joys and adventures of exploring the world while cruising. He always reminded us that -- like the popular TV series, `cruising gives people something to dream about.'''  

MacLeod officially became Princess Cruises' global ambassador in 1986, appearing in advertising campaigns and making countless public and media appearances for the company, a relationship that continued until his death.  

Though best known for his TV roles, MacLeod's career also included stage and film credits. On the big screen, he played opposite Peter Mann in ``The Sword of Ali Baba'' and opposite Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas, and Carroll O'Connor in ``Kelly's Heroes,'' among other roles. His most recent TV credits were appearances on ``Touched by An Angel,'' ``JAG'' and ``That 70s Show.''  

Before taking on his stage name, MacLeod's given name was Allan George See. Born on Feb. 28, 1931, in Mount Kisco, New York, he grew up in Pleasantville and later studied acting at Ithaca College -- graduating in 1952 with a degree in fine arts. He also served in the United States Air Force.  

He wrote a memoir in 2013 called ``This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life,'' in which he recounted stories from his time as a young actor -- without much hair -- trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood, as well as the lifelong friends he made, his struggle with alcoholism, a divorce, and his relationship with faith and Christianity.  

MacLeod is survived by his wife, Patti, a former dancer whom he married in 1974, divorced in 1980 then remarried in 1985. Other survivors include his children, Keith, David, Meaghan and Julie; and 10 grandchildren.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

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