×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Little House on the Prairie’ Producer Kent McCray Dies at 89

Little House on the Prairie” producer Kent McCray died of natural causes in Los Angeles on Sunday. He was 89.

McCray was born on June 7, 1928, the second son of Thomas Chapman McCray — an executive with the NBC Radio Network — and singer Dorothy Baldwin McCray. A Hartford, Conn., native, McCray found his passion for entertainment early on during his time at the Kimball Union Academy prep school in New Hampshire. While at Kimball, McCray built sets, directed, acted, and sang in several school theatrical productions.

Three years after graduating from the University of Hartford, McCray began his television career at NBC in L.A. as a production coordinator on the “All Star Revue” and “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” Other assignments followed quickly, including “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Ralph Edwards Show,” “This Is Your Life,” and “You Bet Your Life” starring Groucho Marx.

When NBC announced its shift away from live television into filmed entertainment, McCray took a crash course in film production and became an associate producer on “Philip Marlowe,” later becoming a production manager on the NBC dramas “The High Chaparral” and “Bonanza.”

While working on “Bonanza,” McCray met Michael Landon, whom he would collaborate with several times during his career. In his 2017 memoir, “Kent McCray: The Man Behind The Most Beloved Television Shows,” McCray wrote, “Because of my personal and working relationship with Michael, I had the freedom to run a production as I saw fit. I have always believed that to get the best show, you must have the very best crew and then allow them to do their job without intruding on their expertise. There’s nothing more wonderful than looking forward to going to work every day. Because of the mutual respect and love Michael and I felt for each other and our crew family, that dream came true for me.”

In 1974, McCray was associate producer of the two-hour “Little House on the Prairie” pilot based Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book series. Landon was the executive producer, director, and co-star along with Karen Grassle and 9-year-old Melissa Gilbert. When the pilot became a series, McCray served as producer for the show’s entire nine-season run. From 1981 to 1983, he expanded his collaboration with Landon to produce “Father Murphy” starring Merlin Olsen.

Dean Butler, who played Almanzo James Wilder in “Little House on the Prairie,” said McCray always managed to make him smile while they worked together.

“He was a friend, he was a gentleman, a mentor, and a gifted producer who was always two steps ahead of the curve. His desk was always clean, his boards were perfect, and everyone had fun,” Butler said in a statement. “While Kent’s career spanned more than 60 years, he told me that he never worked a day in his life. I believed him, and I will always be inspired by his memory.”

Kent is survived by Susan Sukman McCray, whom he married in 1984, as well as four children from his first marriage — Deborah Kressin, Scott McCray, Kristen McCray Trent, and Carolyn McCray Montgomery — eight grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the University of Hartford’s Hartt Theatre Division.

More TV

  • How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes

    How the 'Rich Eisen Show' Mixes Sports and Showbiz in an Entertaining Mix

    Walking through the El Segundo studio where veteran sportscaster Rich Eisen tapes his daily “Rich Eisen Show,” the sheer density of sports memorabilia is overwhelming — everything from game balls to jerseys, gear, autographs and uncountable photos are crammed onto every inch of wall and desk space. But step into Eisen’s dressing room, and the [...]

  • Whiskey Tango Cavalier

    TV Review: 'Whiskey Cavalier'

    The crux of “Whiskey Cavalier” can be found right in its protagonist’s name. “Will Chase” is a purposefully ridiculous wink of a name that tries to be both debonair and very silly all at once, just like the FBI agent (played by Scott Foley) to which it belongs. This isn’t a regular spy drama, “Whiskey [...]

  • Brody Stevens Dead

    Comedian Brody Stevens Dies at 48

    Prominent Los Angeles comedian Brody Stevens died Friday in Los Angeles, Variety has confirmed. He was 48. “Brody was an inspiring voice who was a friend to many in the comedy community,” Stevens’ reps said in a statement. “He pushed creative boundaries and his passion for his work and his love of baseball were contagious. [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Malik Yoba to Reprise Role in 'New York Undercover' Reboot at ABC

    Malik Yoba, who starred as Detective J.C. Williams in the 90s show “New York Undercover,” is set to reprise the role in the ABC reboot, sources tell Variety. Picking up 20 years after the end of the original series, “New York Undercover” will follow detectives Nat Gilmore and Melissa Ortiz as they investigate the city’s [...]

  • Chris Burrous dead KTLA anchor

    KTLA Anchor Chris Burrous' Cause of Death Released

    An investigative report on KTLA anchor Chris Burrous has determined that his cause of death was attributed to methamphetamine toxicity, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office. Burrous, 43, was found unconscious at a motel in Glendale, Calif on December 27, and later died at the hospital. The death has been ruled as accidental. [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Late Show With Stephen Colbert' Win Publicity Campaign Awards

    Hollywood publicists have selected “Crazy Rich Asians” as the top movie publicity campaign for 2018 and “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” as the best television campaign. Warner Bros.’ “Crazy Rich Asians” topped the campaigns for Disney’s “Black Panther,” Fox’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Paramount’s “A Quiet Place,” Sony’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse,” and Universal’s “Halloween” for [...]

  • THE MASKED SINGER: Rabbit in the

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of Feb. 11: 'Masked Singer' Easily Tops Competition

    Fox’s “The Masked Singer” was the highest-rated broadcast show of the week in both Live+Same Day and Live+3. For the week of Feb. 11, the unscripted singing competition series went from a 2.4 rating in adults 18-49 to a 3.4, a rise of 42%. In total viewers, the show went from 7.8 million viewers to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content