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Image: Gavin MacLeod, 'Love Boat' Captain, Pens Memoir About His Life

Gavin MacLeod, 'Love Boat' Captain, Pens Memoir About His Life

By Ken Mandel   |   Wednesday, 23 Oct 2013 04:04 PM

The life of Gavin MacLeod, the actor known for his roles on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and "The Love Boat," wasn't always smooth sailing.

In a new memoir, "This Is Your Captain Speaking," the veteran character actor opens up about living in poverty, dealing with alcoholism, and thoughts of suicide. But mostly, the 82-year-old talks of being grateful for the many experiences that shaped him.

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"That's a big word in my life," MacLeod told The Associated Press. "I'm just so grateful I've had another day, another day, another day, and that my kids are doing so well."

The IMDB database lists MacLeod's first role as "Stone/Willy" in two episodes of "The Walter Winchell File, in 1957-58. From there, he went onto roles as Joseph "Happy" Haines on "McHale's Navy," as well as parts on many television shows and movies of the 1960s and 1970s, where he worked with actors such as Gregory Peck and Robert Redford.

He jumped from supporting player to lead actor for his work as Murray Slaughter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and the lovable Captain Merrill Stubing on "The Love Boat," where he got to work with A-list actors from the 1940s and 1950s, who regularly appeared as guest stars. These included Helen Hayes and Ethel Merman.

"I pinched myself every single day heading to work on 'Love Boat,' and the experiences we would have working together," MacLeod told AP.

"It's been a great, great ride," MacLeod, 82, told CNN by phone.

Born Allan See in Westchester County, N.Y., his father died at age 39, when MacLeod was 13, according to the AP. A bout with alcoholism later destroyed his first marriage, which he discusses in the book.

"I was ugly when I drank," he wrote, according to CNN. "The fighting was miserable, and very much my fault."

There are also humorous anecdotes, such as when MacLeod invited legendary screen star Bette Davis to his home, after the actress told a mutual friend that she wanted to meet him. In her 70s at the time, Davis argued with guests, upset MacLeod's wife, and later said unflattering things about the night in an interview.

"We got a good story and a good laugh out of it," MacLeod writes in the book.

Among other moments, MacLeod shares a story about his audition for the role of Archie Bunker on "All in the Family" and how he survived two heart attacks.

"My life has taken one incredible turn after another," MacLeod wrote, according to USA Today. "I've gotten to do what I wanted to do. I've been a captain! I've been given this incredible gift of life and now I want to use it to give back. That's why I'm sharing my story here, the fun parts and even some not-so-fun parts, in the hopes that maybe someone will take a nice walk down memory lane with me — and maybe I'll even give someone a little bit of hope."

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