Childhood & Early Years
Meredith Lynn MacRae was born on May 30, 1944 in Houston, Texas. At the time of her birth, her father Albert Gordon MacRae served in the United States Army Air Corps. Later, he crafted a successful career in acting and singing. Her mother Sheila Margaret MacRae was also an actress.
MacRae was born eldest of her parents’ four children, having one sister named Heather and two brothers named William Gordon and Robert Bruce. From her father’s second marriage, she also had a half-sister named Amanda Mercedes MacRae.
Although her parents could afford a house in Beverly Hills, they chose to bring up their children in a modest home in the San Fernando Valley, making sure to instill proper work ethics in them. She and her siblings were never encouraged to feel superior to their less fortunate friends.
From her childhood, she was taught to work for whatever she wanted. If she wanted a doll, she had to earn it by doing chores at home. To get a car, she had to get straight A’s for two consecutive years, and once she got it, she was warned that it would be taken away if she failed to maintain her grades.
She attended Buckley School and North Hollywood High School, both located in the San Fernando Valley. Later, she joined the University of California, from where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English.
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In 1952, when Meredith MacRae was eight years old, she debuted in films by appearing in ‘By the Light of the Silvery Moon’. However, she actively began her career in 1963 when she got the role of Sally Anne Morrison Douglas in the ABC sitcom, ‘My Three Sons’.
In 1964, simultaneously with playing Sally on ‘My Three Sons’, she was seen in the role of ‘Animal’ in the film ‘Bikini Beach’. In the same year, she also cut her first solo record ‘Image of a Girl’/ ‘Time Stand Still’. Meanwhile, she also found time to attend the university and complete her education.
In 1965, after the completion of the sixth season, MacRae asked to be written out of ‘My three Sons’ in order to further explore her career. From 1966, she started playing Billie Jo Bradley on the CBS sitcom ‘Petticoat Junction’.
In 1967, she cut her second solo record, which featured ‘Who Needs Memories of Him’/’Goodbye Love’. Next in 1968, she cut two more records with her ‘Petticoat Junction’ sisters, calling it ‘The Girls from Petticoat Junction’. During this time, she also made guest appearances on ‘The Donald O'Connor Show’.
Throughout the 1960s, she participated in a number of game shows like ‘Funny You Should Ask’, ‘Match Game’, ‘What’s My Line?’, ‘Personality’, ‘Snap Judgment’, ‘He Said She Said’ etc. Eventually, she became very popular in this genre of entertainment.
MacRae worked in the ‘Petticoat Junction’ until its cancellation in 1970. In the same year, she appeared in the comedy film ‘Norwood’, portraying the role of Kay. In the following year, she appeared as a guest star in the sixth season of ‘The Dean Martin Show’.
All through the 1970s, she continued to work, appearing in films like ‘My Friends Need Killing’ (1976), ‘Grand Jury’ (1976), ‘Sketches of a Strangler’ (1978) and ‘Three on a Date’ (1978). In addition to movies, she was also seen in a number of television productions like ‘The Rockford Files’, ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘The F.B.I.’ etc.
In the 1980s, MacRae featured in several movies: as Lara in ‘Earthbound’ (1981), as Martha in ‘The Census Taker’ (1984) and as herself in ‘Calendar Girl Murders’ (1984). Thereafter in 1984, she began her television talk show career with ‘Mid-Morning L.A’, co-hosting it for eight years with Geoff Edwards.
From 1987, she began to host ‘Born Famous’, which she co-created with Ava Ostern Fries. When she began to focus on talk shows, her acting career began to take a backseat and she stopped doing movies.
Family & Personal Life
Meredith MacRae married Richard Berger in 1964 and divorced him in 1967.
In 1969, she married actor Greg Mullavey, with whom she had a daughter named Alison. The couple divorced in 1987.
In 1995, she married Phillip M. Neal, CEO of Avery-Dennison, with whom she remained married until her death.
On July 14, 2000, she died from complications arising from brain cancer. In accordance to her wishes, her body was cremated and ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.