10 times Gavin MacLeod stole the show as a guest star on 1960s TV
He was in sitcoms, Westerns and cop shows — more often than not as the villain!
Before he was The Love Boat’s lovable Captain Stubing, even before he was Murray Slaughter on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Gavin MacLeod was making his mark in television. After first landing small roles in the late 1950s, he hit his stride a few years later guest starring in everything from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Hawaii Five-O.
The first decade of his career saw him playing roles very different from the ones he is most famous for. He played all sorts of bad guys, villains and con men — even in comedies! Here are ten times Gavin MacLeod stole the show as a guest star in the 1960s.
1. Peter Gunn (1960)
In the episode “Take Five for Murder,” MacLeod plays an old World War II buddy of Gunn’s who hires the stylish private detective to find the man blackmailing him. MacLeod’s character is the manager of a teen idol rock 'n' roll singer with a shady past – which the blackmailer wants to exploit. It’s an interesting role for MacLeod and shows off his ability to play both friendly and malicious characters.
2. The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961)
After appearing in shows like Peter Gunn and The Untouchables, Gavin MacLeod gave one of his first comedic performances in the Dick Van Dyke Show episode “Empress Carlotta’s Necklace.” MacLeod plays Mel Cooley’s cousin, Maxwell, who sells jewelry wholesale. Each piece, whether it’s cuff links, earrings or the titular gaudy necklace, somehow works out to be $35 dollars “after the discount.” Rob buys the replica necklace – much to Laura’s dismay! Though he’s only in the beginning of the episode, MacLeod’s gum-chewing jewelry salesman perfectly sets up the story.
3. Rawhide (1965)
In the episode “The Meeting,” MacLeod plays mastermind Rian Powers who gathers the West’s most notorious outlaws together with Gil Favor and another trail boss. Powers is a sharply dressed villain who knows he can control the entire beef industry if he takes control of just a few of America’s largest cattle herds. It’s a role that proves why MacLeod was a go-to bad guy in the 1960s.
4. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1965)
MacLeod played another bad guy, though one with a considerably less nefarious plan, in the Gomer Pyle episode “Dance, Marine, Dance.” It actually originally aired one week after his Rawhide episode in January 1965. MacLeod plays Fred Fay who, along with his partner Ginger, trick Gomer into signing a contract for dancing lessons. It comes to only eight cents a lesson but there’s a catch – it’s a lifetime contract!
5. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1965)
Also in 1965 was MacLeod’s turn as a villainous but charismatic T.H.R.U.S.H. operative who faces off against U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin in “The Hong Kong Schilling Affair.” This episode also features Glenn Corbett, who was in everything from Star Trek to Dallas, and a young Richard Keil as a towering henchman.
6. Perry Mason (1965)
Though MacLeod appeared in three Perry Mason episodes, “The Case of the Grinning Gorilla” stands out not only for MacLeod’s role but for everything else in this strange story as well. It follows a wealthy scientist who keeps all kinds of animals, including a gorilla, in his mansion. MacLeod plays the scientist’s money manager, Mortimer Hershey, a stuffy, business-minded man who seems to be hiding something.
7. The Andy Griffith Show (1965)
MacLeod appeared in two 1965 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, one toward the end of season five and the other early in season six. Coincidentally, both involve Andy as a “Sheriff Without a Gun.” In “TV or Not TV,” MacLeod plays a criminal posing as a TV producer who is intrigued by Mayberry’s seemingly defenseless sheriff after seeing an article titled “The Sheriff Without a Gun.” In “The Taylors in Hollywood,” Andy, Opie and Aunt Bee visit the set of a movie based on Andy which uses the same title as the article. MacLeod, in a toupee, plays the actor playing the fictional Andy, seen here.
8. Hogan’s Heroes (1966)
MacLeod’s gestapo character in “Hello, Zolle,” the first of four Hogan’s Heroes episodes he appeared in, was straight out of an Indiana Jones movie – two decades before there was such a thing. MacLeod’s Major Zolle is a comically suspicious person. He doesn’t trust his own mother! He visits Stalag 13 to investigate why there haven’t been any escapes, something he sees as highly suspect. MacLeod’s exaggerated accent and mannerisms steal every scene he’s in.
9. Hawaii Five-O (1968)
MacLeod played the drug boss known as Big Chicken in two early episodes of this classic police drama. He was first introduced in “…And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin” (seen here) where his soft-spoken performance, and stylish turtlenecks, were perfectly juxtaposed against the character’s sinister nature. Big Chicken turned up again, this time in prison, in the episode “The Box.”
10. The Big Valley (1968)
MacLeod played a brutal prison guard, a con man working with a bogus faith healer and a cattle rustler in three different episodes of this classic Western. He is great in each but the rustler in “Presumed Dead” actually has the most redeeming qualities of the three – though he’s not exactly a good guy. MacLeod even gives the character, named O’Leary and seen here, an Irish accent.