Born near Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina on Feb. 22, 1936 and raised near Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, North Carolina, MacRae checked off a lot of boxes when a girlfriend was being cast for Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors).
Yet its her run from 1966-'69 alongside Nabors that established MacRae as a television star. She even got to show off her vocal talents in the episode "Lou-Ann Poovie Sings Again."
"When I first came on the set of Gomer Pyle, the very first [episode] I did, Andy came over and was very much a part of the filming," MacRae said in the 2005 book Mayberry Memories: The Andy Griffith Show Photo Album (as quoted by MeTV). "He wasn't in it but he was there helping Jim Nabors coach me to sing... so Andy and Jim were standing behind the camera mouthing the words trying to help me."
While auditioning for the role, MacRae's Southern drawl caught the attention of Lee Phillips, a director with North Carolina ties.
"He hired me on the spot," MacRae told MeTV. "And that was the birth of Lou-Ann Poovie. It was supposed to be a one-shot deal. I did 15 episodes."
MacRae worked with her Mayberry family outside of Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., playing Betty Parker in the 1967 The Andy Griffith Show episode "Big Brother" and voicing the Ladyfish in the Don Knotts film The Incredible Mr. Limpet.
Like many classic TV actors, MacRae appeared on a long list of shows in the '60s and '70s, including Naked City, Hawaiian Eye, Surfside 6, Maverick, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, Route 66, Bonanza, Barnaby Jones, I Dream of Jeannie, Mannix, Rawhide, Death Valley Days, The Virginian, Dr. Kildare, Kojak, Rhoda and The Untouchables.
Her short yet stacked filmography includes appearances alongside Fabian (Love in a Goldfish Bowl), Mickey Rooney (Everything's Ducky), Duane Eddy (The Wild Westerners), Kirk Douglas (For Love or Money) and Gene Hackman (Francis Ford Coppola's Oscar-nominated drama The Conversation).
MacRae was married to actor and screenwriter Nedrick Young (his credits include the screenplay for Jailhouse Rock) from 1965 to his 1968 death from a heart attack. She's been wed to Charles Halsey since 1969.
As of April 2021, MacRae's living back in Fayetteville with Halsey, where she's one of the Southern town's best-known and most-loved residents. She's among the celebrities involved with Andy Griffith Show events like Mount Airy's Mayberry Days.