It’s fair to say that long-term relationships can be incredibly rewarding – even when they’re not always plain sailing. And Gerald McRaney and Delta Burke certainly know what it’s like to live your life alongside someone else; in 2019, you see, the couple are set to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. But how has their romance lasted the decades? Well, at the 2017 Emmy Awards, the famous pair ended up revealing the secret behind their seemingly successful marriage.
McRaney first entered the world in August 1947 and grew up in Collins, Mississippi, alongside his siblings Anne and Buddy. He started to develop a fondness for acting during his high school years, too, after an injury prevented him from playing sports. And from there, the teenager signed up to the school’s drama club.
But, of course, acting wasn’t a passion that McRaney left behind after graduation. Instead, he went on to become a drama student at the University of Mississippi. Yet the future star didn’t complete his degree in the end; instead, he subsequently found employment at a theater company in New Orleans, Louisiana.
In addition, McRaney worked in the Louisiana oil fields before he earned a spot as a performer with the theater company. And that experience treading the boards ultimately paid off, it seems. In 1969, you see, the aspiring actor made his movie debut in Night of Bloody Horror, and this in turn kick-started his screen career.
McRaney then starred in his second film, titled Women and Bloody Terror, before turning to the small screen. In 1972, then, viewers could have seen him in an episode of NBC anthology series Night Gallery. What’s more, the actor began to establish himself on television over the years that followed.
McRaney was cast in plenty of well-known shows throughout the 1970s, in fact, such as The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, Gunsmoke and The Six Million Dollar Man. And his impressive run continued into the 1980s, when he earned parts in a number of other high-profile series. Then, in 1981, the star’s career received a even further boost.
Yes, it was in that year that McRaney played one of the leading roles in Simon & Simon – a new TV series about a pair of siblings operating their own detective firm. And the show proved to be a big hit at the time, running for eight seasons. McRaney himself starred in over 150 episodes of the drama before it came to an end in 1989.
In addition to that, McRaney returned to the big screen in the mid-1980s, with roles in The NeverEnding Story and Jackals. And nor was Simon & Simon the actor’s only shot at television; throughout the ’80s, he also made appearances in a variety of other TV movies and shows.
In 1987, for instance, McRaney popped up in CBS comedy Designing Women as Dash Goff. He featured, in fact, in two episodes of the show, which ultimately ran for seven seasons. And although the actor’s time in Designing Women was relatively brief, it nevertheless proved to be life-changing. That’s because, in time, he fell for one of the series’ stars.
That woman, moreover, was Delta Burke. Burke grew up in Orlando, Florida, and had emerged victorious in the 1974 Miss Florida beauty contest. Then, off the back of that particular success, she made her small-screen debut some four years later, taking on an uncredited role in the TV movie Zuma Beach. And from there, Burke’s career really started to flourish.
Indeed, in 1979 Burke appeared in two more TV movies as well as a mini-series called The Seekers. The actress also scored a part in The Chisholms, and she went on to feature in almost ten episodes of the western show. Her rise didn’t end there, though.
From 1982, you see, Burke was seen in one of the leading roles in comedy series Filthy Rich. Taking on the character of Kathleen Beck, she starred in all 15 episodes of the show before it came to an end in 1983. And Burke’s career continued apace even after that, too, with the actress popping up in a number of hit shows over the next few years.
In particular, Burke appeared in The Love Boat, Remington Steele and T.J. Hooker during that period. Then, of course, she landed her breakthrough role in Designing Women, in which she featured alongside Annie Potts, Dixie Carter and Jean Smart. And, ultimately, the actress starred in close to 120 episodes of the comedy.
Then, some 12 months into Designing Women’s run, Burke’s life changed forever when she encountered McRaney at a formal lunch. “There’s something about Southerners,” McRaney told People in 1989. “We’re just more physical. When we were introduced, we started to shake hands, but that just didn’t seem like enough.”
“So we hugged each other,” McRaney continued. “I kept trying to catch glances at [Burke] during lunch, thinking I was being terribly subtle about it. It wound up with me staring at her through a good deal of the festivities.” And prior to his time in Designing Women, the actor also chose to send Burke a bunch of flowers.
There was a chance for romance on the show, too, even though McRaney played Burke’s on-screen former husband. Specifically, the pair were scripted to kiss during one of the episodes; and when the take came, they both seemed to lose themselves in the moment. “[The kiss] went on for a long time,” McRaney later recalled to People. “I didn’t know then [that Burke] hadn’t had a date in a year.”
Before long, then, McRaney and Burke became an item and went out on a couple of dates. And the Simon & Simon star sensed a deep connection between the pair while even in those early stages – a feeling that in turn prompted him to make a massive decision. Yes, while the couple were out on their second date, McRaney summoned up the courage to propose to Burke.
“After a few of those rum drinks, I got up the nerve,” McRaney told People after the fact. “Sure, logic was telling me it was a bit soon [to propose]. But I had a gut feeling that this woman will be my friend for the rest of my life. I still think she’s about the most beautiful creature God ever put on the Earth.” And Burke said yes, of course.
In 1989, then, McRaney and Burke got hitched in 1989 in Los Angeles surrounded by hundreds of well-wishers. And it was the actor’s third marriage; prior to falling for Burke, though, he hadn’t had any intentions of walking down the aisle again. In fact, those previous splits appeared to have taken their toll on the star.
“I was not looking for a wife,” McRaney admitted to People. “I’d decided ‘never again’ for me. I wasn’t angry or bitter about anything. I just thought I wasn’t very good at it.” And Burke had previously been fairly skeptical about her chances of meeting a soulmate, too.
Indeed, the actress has suggested that she’d envisaged a rather different future for herself prior to McRaney coming into her life. “I figured I’d turn into the crazy woman down the street with all the dogs and a stack of newspapers so deep you can’t find the body for days,” Burke told People. “And then I met [McRaney], and it’s so weird, but right off the bat… [I] knew [he was the one].”
What’s more, one of Burke’s Designing Women co-stars also chose to lift the lid on the couple’s relationship in an interview with People. And according to Potts, McRaney lavished Burke with plenty of attention, too. “Delta told me how good he was to her,” Potts explained to the magazine.
“Crates of white roses started coming to the set every day,” Potts continued. “After work, [McRaney] met [Burke] at the door with a hug, then he ran a tub for her, gave her a back massage, cooked her dinner and served her a drink on a silver tray. She told me this, and I said, ‘Delta, what do you do for him?’ She said, ‘I enjoy it.’”
Furthermore, after McRaney and Burke tied the knot, some of their friends reflected on the changes they’d observed in the pair since they had gotten together. And in their minds, the lovebirds had been transformed. “Delta was not quite trusting of our brethren before she met Mac,” fellow Designing Women star Smart recalled.
“[Burke] went, ‘Who needs it?’” Smart continued. “But it was amazing to see someone who was so defensive around men so instantly fall in love.” And as for McRaney, Jared Snyder shared a heartwarming assessment of his friend’s transformation – in which he suggested that a few people had been willing the actor on to find love again.
“[McRaney’s] always been like the big lovable basset hound that’s asleep on the couch,” Snyder told People. “You just love and adore him, but you wish he’d get up and do something once in a while. He has life now. Thunder struck him when Delta came along.”
And following the wedding, McRaney and Burke of course continued with their respective acting careers. With Simon & Simon behind him, McRaney subsequently took on the lead role in Major Dad. He went on to star in nearly 100 episodes of the comedy, in fact, before it came to an end in 1993.
After that, McRaney appeared in a number of other TV movies and shows throughout the 1990s, firmly establishing himself on the small screen. And in the early 2000s, the star then showed up in the lauded HBO series The West Wing and Deadwood. But, of course, his work didn’t end there.
Indeed, as the years progressed, McRaney eventually made his way back to the big screen through movies such as Red Tails, The A-Team and Focus. Burke, meanwhile, left Designing Women in 1991 – some two years before the show finished. After that, she went on to star in her own series, titled Delta.
Unfortunately for Burke, though, that show only lasted for one season, coming to a close after just 17 episodes. Still, her career took an interesting turn in 1996 – the year that she made her big-screen debut. And it saw Burke star in the thriller Maternal Instincts, taking on the character of Tracy Horton.
Burke continued to work after that, too, with her next film role being in 2000’s Sordid Lives. Later the same year, she also featured in the Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt romantic comedy What Women Want. Since then, though, the actress has only appeared in two more movies – the last of which was released back in 2003.
Fast-forward to the present day, then, and McRaney and Burke are still going strong. The two had rather a big evening at the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2017, too, as McRaney scooped a win for his work in This Is Us on that occasion. And while working the red carpet, the couple reflected on their nearly 30-year marriage – with the actor touching upon the night he proposed in particular.
“I wasn’t going to let [Burke] get away,” McRaney told People on that September 2017 evening. “I already had competition. There were people asking her out on dates, and I was going to move in right away.” And from there, Burke spoke about the importance of her husband’s achievement in finally receiving an Emmy nomination for his TV work.
“This has been huge for me,” Burke said. “I have wanted [McRaney] to be nominated for so many years, I cannot tell you. I think that he’s richly deserved it, and that they’ve noticed him and acknowledged him this year makes me want to cry.” What’s more, after winning the award, McRaney shared some loving words about his wife.
More specifically, McRaney spoke about how he values Burke’s feedback – in turn shining a light on their successful relationship. “As a man, I’ve had the love of the finest woman I can possibly imagine,” he said. “As an actor, when she tells me something is good, I accept that I’ve done okay, because she knows what she’s talking about.”
“When other people say it, it’s nice, I appreciate the compliment,” McRaney added. “When [Burke] says it, it’s real, because she’ll tell me when I suck, too. She has no hesitation about that. So it’s a good partnership for me. It keeps me toeing the line.”
As for the secret behind McRaney and Burke’s long-lasting relationship? Well, Burke had dropped a fairly big hint back in 2008. The actress had suffered from depression in the past; she was also required to keep her diabetes under control. And due to those health issues, her weight became a cause for concern.
Nevertheless, McRaney was on hand to help his spouse through that period. “It didn’t matter to him how fat I got,” Burke told Diabetic Living magazine in 2008. “He reminds me what I should be doing or shouldn’t be eating. He likes to give me my [insulin] shots and says it makes him feel like he’s taking care of me.”
McRaney, on the other hand, offered his own assessment of his relationship while at the Emmys, suggesting in turn that he and his wife’s bond is as strong as ever. “At the end of a day’s work, I get to come home to [Burke],” he told People. “That’s the fun.” Burke, chiming in, agreed, “And we get each other. As nutty as we both are, we get each other.”
Then McRaney shared one more heartwarming story that further underlined the strength of his marriage. “We did a renewal of our vows once, and one of the things that Delta wrote into the vows was that we embrace each other’s insanity,” he said. “Not just accept it – embrace it.”