Delta Burke is a renowned American actress, producer, and author famously known for her role as Suzanne Sugarbaker in the CBS sitcom, Designing Women. The show ran from 1986 to 1993.
She was born in July 1956 to a single mother, Jean, who later married an Orlando-based realtor, Fredrick Burke. She has never met her biological father.
Burke graduated high school in 1974, the same year she participated in a beauty contest, won the title of Miss Florida, and became the youngest Miss Florida ever to win the crown in the pageant industry.
1974, after winning the title, Delta appeared in ABC-TV show Bozo the Clown and started her acting career. Her other notable projects include Women of the House, Filthy Rich, Sordid Lives, 1st & Ten, Dangerous Child, Bridal Fever, What Women Want, A Promise to Carolyn, Maternal Instincts, Going for Broke, Dolly, and DAG.
As for her love life, the actress has been married to the love of her life, Gerald McRaney, since May 1989. It has been over three decades since they tied the knot, and McRaney ensured he stood by Burke through every thick and thin.
The Major Dad star first met Delta in 1987 on the set of Simon and Simon. It was the time when she was already a superstar, and many people liked her, so Gerald knew he needed to work hard to earn a chance to date her.
The duo interacted, and she really liked him, and on their second date, McRaney proposed to her. Burke knew he was the one for her, but they decided to keep their relationship private and didn’t make it public until 1989.
“He asked me to marry him on the second date, so we were pretty committed!” Delta told PEOPLE in 2017. “I wasn’t going to let her get away. I already had competition. There were people asking her out on dates, and I was going to move in right away.”
It was Burke’s first marriage and McRaney’s third – he was previously married to Beverly Root and Pat Moran and had three children with them.
Although Delta and Gerald don’t have any kids together, the couple loves each other unconditionally and remains together throughout the ups and downs of life.
According to Gerald, when he was getting married to Delta, a lot of people told him it wasn’t a good idea, and the union won’t last long, including some of his close friends.
“People always said to me, ‘You never want to marry an actress.’ Why not?” he told PEOPLE.
“They’re the only people who understand this insanity. And she does. If I’m on location, and I don’t call her until 2 o’clock in the morning, no big deal. She knows. And the same thing out here. If I come in in a foul mood because I’ve had a problem with the script or the director or this, ‘Okay, I’ll listen to you. Just don’t take it out on me, and I’ll listen to you.’”
In 1998, Delta lost her grandmother and her mum was diagnosed with breast cancer. The actress struggled mentally and gained a lot of weight, which made her take a break from acting after a falling out with the producers of Designing Women.
Later it was revealed that the primary cause of her weight gain was because of hypoglycemia. The Filthy Rich actress started dieting to lose weight and get back in shape. Also, she got her hypoglycemia treated which caused more complicated health issues, and she was eventually diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
“I was on the road a lot. I was tired. My body didn’t feel right. I knew something was wrong, but nobody could tell me what,” Burke said. “They said I had Epstein-Barr. I knew it was something else. Then one doctor did the right tests and told me I had diabetes.”
Meanwhile, she was also taking care of her mother and wasn’t taking much care of her diet until her doctor told her she would need insulin therapy without a proper diet.
After years of treatment, Burke’s mother survived cancer and got better. In the meantime, McRaney also survived lung cancer, and despite his illness, he never stopped supporting his wife throughout her struggling period.
“He loved me when I got as big as a house… He has loved me through my up times and my down times. He still thinks my body looks great, and I can certifiably tell you it does not!” she told Daily Mail.
Thirty-four years after their marriage, the couple is still going strong – we wish them a long and happy life together!
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Sources: PEOPLE – Daily Mail