Iowa History Daily: June 29 - Fred Grandy Hops Aboard the "Love Boat"

Iowa History Daily: On June 29, 1948, William and Bonnie Grandy welcomed a third son to their Sioux City family. Fred Grandy grew to national fame through his portrayal of the character “Gopher” on the popular television program “Love Boat” and went on to represent Iowa in the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1995.

Tragedy and adversity struck Grandy as an eleven year old when his father died of a heart attack. The following year, his mother passed away from an aneurysm. Raised by his mother’s best friend Margaret Avery, Grandy attended public school until shipping off to Exeter Academy where he roomed with the grandson of Dwight D. Eisenhower, David.

Graduating magna cum laude from Harvard in 1970, Grandy also developed a love for improvisational comedy with a group called “The Proposition.” Moving from Boston to off-Broadway in 1971, Grandy continued to hone his skills. During the 1970s he continued to develop his career, appearing on programs including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “Maude,” and “Welcome Back, Kotter. Grandy’s best known role arrived with the advent of “The Love Boat” where he played Burl “Gopher” Smith. Over the course of the show’s nine season run, Grandy not only acted but also contributed writing to the show.

Politics also suited the man from Sioux City, who served as a speechwriter for Iowa congressman Wiley Mayne of Iowa’s 6th Congressional District. As “Love Boat” wrapped, Grandy returned to politics and successfully ran for the open House of Representatives for Iowa’s 6th District. Serving on Ways and Means, Agriculture, Education, and several other committees, Grandy decided to run in the Republican primary for Governor against Terry Branstad in 1994.

Going on to serve as the CEO of Goodwill Industries from 1995 to 2000, Grandy also worked as a political commentator for NPR in his post acting and political life. Grandy currently serves as a Senior Fellow for National Security Affairs at a Washington D.C. based think-tank called the Center for Security Policy. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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