Frank McRae, a former defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1960s who rose to prominence as a character actor in the 1980s, has passed away. Variety brings word of his death, reporting that McRae died last Thursday, April 29 in Santa Monica, California from a heart attack with his daughter-in-law confirming his passing. A Memphis native, McRae only played in that National Football League for a few games but his double-major in drama and history no doubt lead to his successful career in Hollywood where he would appear opposite multiple A-list actors throughout his many roles.
McRae made his big screen debut in the blaxploitation film Shaft in Africa, later appearing in Dillinger and Walking Tall Part II in the 1970s. He would share the screen with Sylvester Stallone on four different occasions appearing in F.I.S.T., Paradise Alley, Lock Up, and Rocky II. Perhaps his most famous role would come in the 1982 film 48 Hrs. where he took on the part of Police Captain Haden, the shouting superior to Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy. He would go on to reprise the part in Another 48 Hrs. and even parody the part in Last Action Hero and National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1.
His acting career wasn’t limited just to those titles either, McRae would go on to also appear in the James Bond film License to Kill, *batteries not included, and The Wizard. He also appeared as the Wally World security guard alongside John Candy in National Lampoon’s Vacation after previously starring opposite him in the WWII comedy 1941.
McRae didn’t just star in the pictures either, making television appearances on shows including Magnum, P.I., Hillstreet Blues, The Twilight Zone reboot, Columbo, and ER.
“You have to keep dreaming that dream,” McRae said in a 2014 video interview for The Actor’s Journey program. “You just can’t say ‘I want to learn all I can from high school and then this is going to catapult me into becoming a big star.’ The majority of people it takes years of hard works, it takes years of dedication, it takes years of rejection, believe me, a lot of rejection. You have to believe in yourself, you have to keep going when the door closes you have to find out how to open the door again. If you cannot open that door then you must find another door to open but constantly keep knocking on the door, keep knokcing on the door. And one day you’re able to hit the door and you’re able to knock it down. You walk in and when you go in you must be prepared because that might be the only break that you will ever get.
Our thoguhts are with Frank McRae’s family and friends during this time.
(Cover Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)