Gerald Lee McRaney, the star of television series Simon & Simon (1981–85) and Major Dad (1989–93), was born on 19 August 1947 in Collins, Mississippi. He grew up in Picayune and Natchez, and after injuring his knee during junior high school, McRaney turned to acting in school plays. He studied theater for a year at the University of Mississippi before moving to New Orleans to pursue his acting career. During this time, he supported himself by working in the Louisiana oil fields and on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
After four years in New Orleans and acting in several plays, McRaney moved to Hollywood. While taking acting lessons and auditioning for television series, he made his living by driving a cab. In 1969 he received his first TV role, a small part in an episode of Night Gallery, and in 1975 he appeared on four episodes of Gunsmoke, playing the last challenger to meet US marshal Matt Dillon in a gunfight. In 1981 McRaney was cast in the CBS series Simon & Simon as private investigator Rick Simon, a role he played for eight years. McRaney then moved on to star in Major Dad, another successful CBS television series. McRaney’s numerous subsequent television appearances have included Touched by an Angel (1996–98), Promised Land (1996–99), Deadwood (2005–6), Jericho (2006–7), Undercover (2010–12), Fairly Legal (2011–12), Mike & Molly (2012–13), Longmire (2012–15), Agent X (2015), and House of Cards (2013–16). An avid hunter, he has also hosted an outdoor adventure show on the OLN Network.
McRaney has remained loyal to his native state. He narrated Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s production of The Singing River: Rhythms of Nature, an educational video about the Pascagoula River Basin, wrote a 2001 article about Natchez for National Geographic Traveler Magazine, and played a part in Mississippi Rising (2005), a telethon benefiting Louisiana and Mississippi hurricane recovery efforts. Since 1989 he has been married to actress Delta Burke, best known for her work on the TV series Designing Women.
- Lynn Elber, Entertainment News (June 2006)
- Ken Hall, Southeastern Antiquing and Collecting Magazine (2005)
- Internet Movie Database website, www.imdb.com