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About 300 attend MacRae's Funeral. January 27, 1986. Lincoln, Neb. Lincoln, Neb. (AP) Actor Gordon MacRae, whose rich baritone voice earned him acclaim in the movie musicals "Oklahoma 3/8" and "Carousel," was buried Monday as friends remembered him not as a star but as a warm, caring man. "He was a very good friend to everyone," said MacRae's brother-in-law, Charlie Curtin of Sterling. MacRae, 64, died Friday at Bryan Memorial Hospital in Lincoln after waging a lengthy bout with cancer of the mouth and jaw.

About 300 people attended a memorial service at Sheridan Lutheran Church, where MacRae sometimes sang. None of MacRae's Hollywood friends was on hand. The Rev. Donn Rosenauer described the service as a gathering of those who knew MacRae as "husband, father, relative and very good friend."

President Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan sent a telegram that said MacRae "will always be remembered wherever beautiful music is heard." MacRae's daughter, actress Meredith MacRae Mullavey, said she had asked her father in his hospital room three weeks before his death whether he feared the end. She said her father responded, "No. But I'll always be with you."

Virginia Parker, who performed with MacRae on many occasions in Lincoln, sang, "If I Loved You" from "Carousel," at the request of MacRae's wife, Elizabeth.

Residents who knew MacRae as "Gordo" remembered him more for his strength of character than for the rich, booming voice that won him international fame.

"He had a significant impact on a lot of people personally, not just professionally," said Larry Rose, who worked with MacRae at a Lincoln Hospital dependency treatment center.

The memorial service was preceded by MacRae's burial in Wyuka Cemetery. At the gaveside service, his younger sister, Mary Curtin, read a family tribute that she composed.

An extract from it remembered MacRae as a "a humble man who oozed with a sincere friendly warmth."

She shared with family members gathered at the private burial the contests of a small framed motto MacRae had in his home. It read, "It is easy to sing when someone cares."

MacRae's four sisters, two brothers and five children attended both services.

MacRae married the fomer Elizabeth Lambert Schrafft of Sterling in 1967. Their daughter, Amand 17, was born in 1968. The MacRaes had made Lincoln their summer home since 1971.

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Albert Gordon MacRae was born on March 12, 1921, in East Orange, NJ. Gordon grew up with music and show business being the son of the radio star “Wee Willie” MacRae and having a mother who performed piano. During his early years, he resided in Syracuse, NY, and, while in high school, spent much of his time singing and acting in the Drama Club. It was also during this time that he learned to play the piano, clarinet and the saxophone. At 19, he entered a singing contest and won a two-week engagement at The World’s Fair in New York, performing with the Harry James and Les Brown bands.

In 1940, while working in New York City as a page, he was “discovered” and hired to sing for the Horace Heidt Band. In May 1941, he wed his first wife, actress Sheila Margot Stephens. During their marriage they had four children: Meredith, Heather, William and Robert. Of the four, Meredith and Heather MacRae followed in their father’s footsteps both pursuing acting careers.

During World War II, he joined the Army Air Force, in 1941, serving as a navigator for two years. At the end of the war, he returned to New York City, where he made his Broadway debut in the show “Junior Miss.”

During his career, he fought with alcoholism and eventually overcame it but at the price of his marriage with Sheila. They divorced in 1967. Four months later he remarried to Elizabeth Lambert Schraff. She remained with him until the end of his life.

Next, he appeared, again on Broadway, in Ray Bolger’s 1946 revue, “Three To Make Ready”. It was here that he was spotted by Capitol Records and signed to a long-term recording contract in 1947.He stayed with the label for more than 20 years. In October 1948, on ABC, he starred on the radio show “The Railroad Hour”. The show moved to NBC in October 1949 and continued until June of 1954.

It presented operettas and musical dramatizations, all starring Gordon and many different leading ladies. Also in 1948, he was signed to a seven-year contract with Warner Brothers Pictures and, soon after, made his film debut in the non-musical, The Big Punch (1948), opposite Lois Maxwell (well-known later as “Miss Moneypenny” in the James Bond films).

What followed was a string of hit musicals, starting with Look for the Silver Lining (1949), in which MacRae had a featured role opposite June Haver and Ray Bolger, and five fondly remembered films with Doris Day, beginning with Tea for Two (1950). Perhaps his two best and well-known films were two of his last: Oklahoma! (1955) and Carousel (1956), both written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II and both opposite screen newcomer Shirley Jones.

MacRae began to suffer, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, from bouts of heavy drinking and, by his own admission, developed into an alcoholic. He revealed that he had been “picked up for drunk driving” during the filming of “Carousel”. He conquered the disease in the 1970s and went on to counsel other alcoholics.

He continued recording and performing on dozens of television shows. He and his wife, Sheila MacRae, appeared together frequently and even released an album together. His daughters, Meredith MacRae and Heather MacRae, acted in films and on TV. On September 22, 1974, he appeared as a sheriff on an episode of “McCloud” (1970), starring Dennis Weaver, entitled “The Barefoot Girls of Bleeker Street”.

His final film came in 1979, a fine dramatic role in The Pilot (1980), which starred Cliff Robertson. He suffered a stroke in 1982. He continued on with the support of his second wife, Elizabeth, and his five children. This brilliant performer continued to tour, when his health would permit, allowing audiences to relive some of his biggest film hits.

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On January 24, 1986, Gordon MacRae died at the age of 64, at his home in Lincoln, NE, of pneumonia, the result of complications from cancer of the mouth and jaw.

Elizabeth Lambert (Schraff) MacRae (December 7, 1925-September 7, 2010) was the second wife of actor Gordon MacRae. She was born in Davenport, Nebraska to Effie and Eugene Lambert on December 7, 1925. Growing up, she was oldest of six children. She graduated from Pawnee City High School in 1943. Liz possessed a spirit of adventure and left Nebraska at an early age to see the world. She was an actress on various television shows from the 1960s-1980s. She is best known for her role as Lou Ann Poovie, Gomer Pyle’s girlfriend, on the series Gomer Pyle, USMC. Though her career took her many places, it was in New York City where she met and married the love of her life, Gordon in 1967. Their daughter, Amanda Mercedes, was born soon after in 1968. Her strong family ties ultimately drew her back to Nebraska in 1980 where she and Gordon made Lincoln their home. She loved art, music, and poetry, but love of family was what set her heart aflame. She passed away in 2010 at the age of 84 from a lengthy illness.

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