The Everett Collection

Gavin MacLeod went from playing villains to being considered a comedy hero

Gavin MacLeod was one of Hollywood's biggest bad guys and at one point in time, it seemed like there wasn't a crime he wasn't involved in on TV.

Before his role as Captain Merrill Stubing on The Love Boat, MacLeod played a string of bad guys on TV. One of these roles included Big Chicken on Hawaii Five-O, which many consider one of the most memorable villains on classic TV. 

The Hawaii Five-O fan response to his character was so strong that MacLeod was brought back for another episode. These episodes include: "The Box" and "... And They Painted Daises on His Coffin."

"I made a living doing that," MacLeod said in a 1979 interview with Tampa Bay Times. "Once I lost my hair I couldn't play leading men anymore. I played pushers, perverts and wife beaters. It was good money."

Playing a bad guy meant good money for MacLeod. However, playing the bad guy isn't always a good thing, MacLeod said he found the roles to be challenging.

"I played every villain as though he felt what he was doing wasn't wrong," he said. "Big Chicken was tough. I really had to rationalize his motivation. I don't know if I could play that kind of role again. If I did I'd certainly do it differently." 

MacLeod became bald at the age of 18, and it would be one of the main reasons he got typecasted as a villain.

His roles on My Favorite Martian, The Big Valley, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Love Boat were all important to break the chain of the typecast. Thanks to these and The Love Boat, he would become known for so much more than just a balding bad guy.

"One reason I love The Love Boat is because of the happy endings," he said. "I don't care if it reflects real life or not, I love happy endings. Life's so heavy these days that people want to escape."

In a 1977 interview with The Daily Herald-Tribune, MacLeod talked about his hair loss.

"I lost my hair because I was 18 years old and put something on it when I was doing a play in college that I never should have put on," he said. "I was playing a father role and decided to put some grey in my hair."

MacLeod said that instead of washing it out every night, he would leave it in for the entire run of the play, which was two weeks. After he tried washing it out... that's when the surprise came.

"Clumps of my hair started to go down the drain, but only hair from the middle of my head," he said. "For some strange reason, the hair remained on both the sides. That's how I became bald."

Hair or no hair, MacLeod proved he had talent beyond playing a villain.

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