Greg Mullavey Is No Tom Hartman…Just Ask His Real Wife
By Tony Bowen
They’re Hollywood’s “married sweethearts”—one of the most stable couples in Tinseltown. Greg Mullavey is the man who plays “Tom Hartman” in the most talked-about serial on TV, “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman,” and Meredith MacRae, daughter of Gordon and Sheila MacRae, is the perfect wife for him! It’s easy to see why Greg’s in love with her. Meredith’s wise, witty, and beautiful—but, most important of all, she adores Greg Mullavey!
Busy as they are with not one but two careers in the family, they take time out to “renew that nice romantic thing people should have with each other.” Meredith’s eyes glow when she talks about him—and he’s a favorite subject!
“Greg is very understanding, very supportive. He’s an excellent father. His hobbies are cars and wine and he loves to garden and putter around the house. I think Greg is happiest when he’s just puttering, not having to go anywhere, not having to learn any lines, but that would only last for a little while, because without work, he would get very bored. Greg is more of a homebody than I am. I like to go out and socialize a little more.”
Of course, he’s not all sweetness and light: “He’s very volatile—he’s moody. When he’s up, he’s really up—when he’s down, he’s really down.” She sums it up with a very special smile and an admission that ought to make him the envy of every husband in town: “Greg’s a very good husband,” she says softly.
They met after Meredith’s first marriage ended in divorce. “We met in an acting workshop,” Meredith said, and while it was not exactly instant attraction, “I liked him and respected him because I thought he was the best actor in the class. I thought he was kind of cute—a little Ivy League, square-looking—and he thought I was kind of All-American and he didn’t find me that attractive.
“Then we started rehearsing together. We were friends for a long time, and then a year or more later, we were working on a scene together—a very romantic scene. We were supposed to kiss—and the kisses grew longer and longer—and so did the rehearsals, and, the next thing we knew, we were involved and in love.”
Meredith had been dating someone else. Someone who wined and dined her and was financially able to take her to places beyond Greg’s means at the time. “I had just gone through a divorce and I wanted to go out and dance, go out to dinner, and be taken to nice places. Greg, at the time, had very little money, and he didn’t feel comfortable in those places. I was torn between the two. Greg was trying to put his foot down and say it’s either me or him.”
Meredith made a choice, and it’s obvious that she and Greg are both still very happy with that choice. Meredith sums it up when she says, “I need Greg in terms of ‘I love him’—he’s my love!”
Now into their seventh year of marriage, they are both immersed in ballooning careers, the remodeling of their lovely home, their adorable two-year-old daughter, Allison, and a half a hundred separate projects—but, first and foremost, they’re together. Any they still look back lovingly on the ceremony that made all this joy possible.
Meredith recalled: “We wanted to be married outdoors, and we wanted to be married close to nature.” They’d found the perfect spot one day on a drive to the beach—the lovely temple and gardens of the Self-Realization Fellowship, out on Sunset. “Greg said, ‘Let’s go see!’ So we went and talked to the monk. We asked what the ceremony was, and we liked it, but we added a few things.
“Greg carried a red rose and I carried a white rose. During the ceremony, we exchanged roses and pressed them into each other’s hands. That’s part of the Hindu wedding ceremony—the merging of the masculine soul and the feminine soul. We had roses for all the guests. Greg picked the music, kind of baroque music, and we had sitar players and a poem.”
Far more important, of course, was the mood of that moment, solemn, loving, lasting, despite the pressures that prevail upon Hollywood couples—the separations, the competition of separate careers, the inflated egos, the jealousies. “Greg and I are both kind of jealous,” Meredith admitted. “We would rather not be. Ideally, we think people should be less restrictive and more permissive. But that’s just the way we are.”
And it would be useless to deny that showbusiness has caused them times of trial. Meredith confessed: “I think if I ever came close to considering having an affair, it was during those very first weeks of ‘Mary Hartman.’ In the beginning, it was very difficult for me, because Greg’s schedule was horrendous. I never saw him and it was very lonely and very difficult.”
She remembers “eating dinner with a maid, who doesn’t speak English, and a child, who’s throwing food at you. It was very frustrating! Greg came home exhausted, tired, and having to learn lines for the next day. Our sex life wasn’t exactly the best during those days!
“I think it was more of an adjustment for me, because the person who stays at home misses the one who goes away a lot more. When I’m away, Greg misses me far more than I miss him, because I’m busy, involved, running every minute, catching planes and all. It’s the same thing in terms of work. He’s working, he’s committed and involved in a creative endeavor which he loves—that’s his energy and focus.”
Today things are better. “Greg’s schedule was adjusted—which is not to say I don’t sometimes wish Greg didn’t have to come home and learn lines! Lots of times, I think, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to go to the movies or down to the beach?’ But we can’t”
Meredith found her own creative outlets during those hours “after Allison has gone to bed and while Greg is learning his lines.” She began putting her ideas on paper. “I’ve written two special documentaries on women and I have several ideas for screenplays.”
But the biggest thrill is her special real-life role. “I’ve been very happy being a mother—I’ve felt very needed.”
Allison is an adorable toddler with Mommy’s bright smile and Daddy’s darker hair. She’s a healthy, happy youngster.
The little girl is growing up in the midst of the entertainment world—and has, in fact, already become part of it. “Allison has done a commercial with me, did you know that?” her mother asked. “I got this letter the other day, saying that Allison Mullavey had earned such-and-such amount in her Pension and Welfare Fund!” Meredith chuckled. Actually, Meredith had been under contract, and the little girl was under age to legally draw a salary. “I paid her out of my salary—I opened up a savings account for her,” Meredith explained.
Born under the sign of Leo, the child is “very strong-willed, very stubborn, but terrific!” And, at the tender age of two, “she loves to sing,” her parents proudly say.
They’re also proud about something else. Greg’s career is streaking ahead these days, though it lagged behind Meredith’s earlier. “I never let him feel that I was making more money than he was,” she points out. “First of all, we always pooled our money, which I think is wise. One thing Greg loves now is that he is making more money than I am—but it hasn’t been a problem.” Happiest of all, now that the tables have turned a bit, is Meredith’s pleasure in Greg’s success: “It’s so nice to see him enjoy it! It’s good for his ego.”
As a couple, they’ve been much in demand for appearances on game shows and talk shows. They were in a Houston stock-company version of the musical The Fantasticks and auditioned for a Broadway production of Elmer Gantry. And we produced our own movie!” Meredith told me, though it has not yet been released. Through it all, they’ve maintained their wonderfully close relationship.
“We love being together,” Meredith told me. Unlike so many of their contemporaries, who are straining at their marriage bonds and making resentful sounds about “too much togetherness,” these lovers seek more and more time together. “We always take vacations together. We know one couple who says, ‘If we were together as much as you are, we’d be killing each other!’ We never ever have too much togetherness!”
As perfect as all this is, every marriage has rough spots, too. What about fights? “We never argue over big things—we argue over little, piddly things!” Meredith grinned. “I’m not really frugal but I’m less extravagant than Greg is.
“Greg is into buying cars right now—antique cars. We’ve ordered a Rolls Royce that’s coming from England, and old one we intend to sell. We bought it as an investment. And he has an old ’49 Jaguar, an old Volkswagen convertible, I have a Jaguar and he has a BMW.
“I feel that he is overextending himself a little bit, because we have a major remodeling job to do on the house, which is going to cost a lot of money. Probably it worries me because my parents had a lot of tax problems and ended up very much in debt, and I don’t want that to happen.
“But Greg’s coming out of it. He recently told me, ‘Okay, that’s all. I’m selling the two cars and I’m putting my charge card in the drawer and I’m not going to buy any more wine because we do have to save for the house.’”
Meredith paused, thought, then added brightly, “Our marriage gets better all the time! And that sums up best the offscreen life of “Mary Hartman’s” husband.