Actress and TV host Meredith MacRae, who gained fame as a star of TV’s “Petticoat Junction,” died Friday of brain cancer at her home in Manhattan Beach. She was 56.Born into a show business family, she was the daughter of singer and film star Gordon MacRae and actress-comedienne Sheila MacRae. She began her career at age 7 when she appeared with her father and Doris Day in the 1953 feature “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” She became a TV star with the debut of “Petticoat Junction” and parlayed her popularity into numerous TV and film appearances. During the 1980s she co-hosted “Mid-Morning L.A.” on KHJ-TV and garnered a local Emmy in 1986. She later created another interview series, “Born Famous,” which ran on three different cable channels over the years. She also co-produced, hosted and wrote “A Second Chance: Surviving Alcoholism,” which aired on KHJ-TV. During the past few years, MacRae recorded 24 books for Dove Audio. She was cited by former ‘Mayor Tom Bradley as one of L.A.’s outstanding women for her contributions to the community and charitable endeavors. She most recently served as president of the Southern California chapter of the Intl. Women’s Forum. She served on the board of Women in Film, the Women in Film Foundation and numerous other foundations. She is survived by her husband, Phil Neal; a daughter; her mother; a sister, Heather, who is an actress; and two brothers, Bruce, a composer, and Gar, head of the film music department at Paramount.
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