Sheila MacRae Obituary

OBITUARY

Sheila MacRae, actress-singer who was on ’60s ‘Honeymooners,’ dies at 92

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Los Angeles Times
March 7, 2014
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Sheila MacRae, 92, a versatile actress and singer who performed in a popular 1950s nightclub act with her husband, Gordon MacRae, and appeared opposite Jackie Gleason in his late ’60s revival of “The Honeymooners,” died Thursday night at the Lillian Booth Actors Home of the Actors Fund in Englewood, N.J. She had undergone surgery a few weeks ago and had apparently been recovering well until this week, said her daughter, actress Heather MacRae.

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Throughout the ’50s, MacRae and her husband, a baritone who starred in the movie musicals “Oklahoma!” and “Carousel,” entertained audiences in ritzy venues such as Manhattan, Las Vegas and Los Angeles and on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and other television variety programs. They sang solo and in duets, and she impersonated celebrities in sketch comedy scenes.

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MacRae assumed the role of Alice Kramden, wife of Gleason’s bus-driver character Ralph in “The Honeymooners” sketches, on the comic’s hit CBS-TV comedy-variety show in 1966. Audrey Meadows originated the role in 1952.

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She was born Sheila Stephens in Middlesex County, England, on Sept. 24, 1921, said her daughter. In the early days of World War II, she immigrated to the United States with her family and they settled on New York’s Long Island. She got her first taste of acting at the Millpond Playhouse in Roslyn, N.Y.

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She married Gordon MacRae in 1941 and they had four children — Meredith, Heather, Gar and Robert Bruce — before divorcing in 1967. Gordon MacRae died in 1986.

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A second marriage to producer Ronald Wayne ended in divorce. Her daughter Meredith, an actress who played Billie Jo on the ’60s TV sitcom “Petticoat Junction,” died in 2000. Her son Bruce died in 2010.

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MacRae made many TV guest appearances including variety and game shows like “What’s My Line?” and “The Hollywood Squares” in the ’60s and the weekly series “Parenthood” and “Murder, She Wrote” in the ’90s. She also had some film roles and acted in stage productions.

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