Gerald McRaney was born in Collins, Mississippi. He is known as "Mac" to his family and friends. He began his acting career in junior high school when he injured his knee playing football and he joined the drama club. He spent several years acting in small roles and guest appearances while working in the Louisiana oil fields to support himself and his family. He got his first big break when he got the part of "Rick Simon" on Simon and Simon (1981) which aired on CBS for eight seasons. He then went on to star in and produce Major Dad (1989), in which he played "Major John D. MacGillis" which ran for four seasons on CBS. He has starred in many made for TV movies.