The Celebrity Collector
Delta Burke and Gerald
Have Warehouses Full of Their Collections
Delta Burke and
Gerald McRaney have accumulated so many things over the course of
their lifetimes both as a married couple and before it
probably makes sense they'd take space in an antiques mall. The
couple, married for 16 years, is leasing 1,500 square feet at the
recently opened Antique Galleria in Collins, Miss. Collins is where
McRaney and his older brother, Buddy, were born.
"Delta will be
going through a warehouse full of stuff in New Orleans soon to
determine what will be brought over to Collins for sale," McRaney
said, although these words were spoken prior to Hurricane Katrina,
and it was unclear at press time how much damage the warehouse had
sustained, if any. What's housed there is mostly antique furniture:
English, French and period American.
The couple leased
more than 20 banks of climate-controlled units in New Orleans. Plus,
they have merchandise stored in California (near their home in
Studio City) and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Collins that Buddy
affectionately dubbed "the best little warehouse in Collins." It
was, until recently, a storefront space, open to the public,
offering hand-painted furniture from China.
"About two years
ago, the three of us - Delta, Gerald and myself - began importing
accent pieces from China, under the name McRaney Enterprises, LLC,"
Buddy said. "We started selling things like trunks, entertainment
centers, bombé chests, dressers and vanities direct to the public.
Most of it is walnut. The wood is from America. It's shipped to
China, where the pieces are made."
The business, with
Buddy handling the day-to-day operations, has done well, and for now
the imported merchandise is what people will see when they visit the
Collins mall. "Gradually," Buddy said, "we'll introduce more and
more of Gerald and Delta's antique items into the mix. Just what, I
can't say. It's like going through soup. There's a little bit of
everything in those warehouses."
That's because the
McRaneys are a couple of self-admitted packrats. "Delta got it from
her mother, who probably has the first diaper she ever put on
Delta's bottom as a baby," Gerald said. He talked about his wife's
massive collection of porcelain dolls, which took up the bulk of two
large rooms in a former residence, and her fascination with English-
and French-made period furniture.
available for an interview, as she was just concluding a run on
Broadway in the play "Steel Magnolias." McRaney spoke on both of
their behalf and mentioned how he, too, was raised around antiques.
"My mother, Edna, was a freak for antiques," he said. "She had an
extensive collection of demitasse cups and saucers, and there was
always period furniture in the house."
as a boy, doing his homework at an English mahogany desk. That led
to a fascination with campaign furniture, used by military
personnel, often on safari. "Roorkee chairs, for example" he said,
"which were used by British officers in India, came in three pieces.
That made them easy to assemble and re-assemble when their units got
orders on short notice to move out."
As a young man,
McRaney would keep his eye peeled for a find. Once, he spotted a
brass bed from the 1880s at a barn sale. The price: just $20. "It
was layered over with varnish, but I knew I'd found something nice,"
he said. He added he and Delta still shop that way - with an eye on
a bargain, wherever they happen to be. A few of the items they've
accumulated along the way include:
- A vetrine, or
small display case, purchased while the couple was in Paris on
their honeymoon. It's from the early 1800s, about four feet tall,
made of a darkwood, possibly ebony, and with beveled
- A four-poster
Natchez rosewood bed, currently in storage in New Orleans. It's
about 200 years old, with a cover on top.
- A darkwood
china cabinet, English, about 150 years old, with hand-carved
hunting scenes on it. The piece was purchased from the M.S. Rau
antiques shop in New Orleans.
- A hand-made,
12-gauge shotgun. (McRaney collects shotguns and hunting rifles
and owns more than 20 pieces). He bought it at a shop in London
called Holland & Holland in 1989, while on location making a
McRaney's home in California is contemporary and, with low ceilings
doesn't lend itself well to the display of antique furniture, much
of which tends to be large. So, except for an English breakfront in
the living room, the bulk of their treasure is in storage for
now. Someday, when they retire, they'll appreciate what they have
accumulated over the many years or sell it!
Gerald McRaney was
born Aug. 19, 1947, in Collins, to parents Clyde, a builder, and
Edna. He's half Scottish, half Choctaw Indian. The family moved
twice when Gerald was a boy, first to Picayune, then to Natchez. He
injured his knee playing football in high school and joined the
drama club. "Mac" (his nickname) worked in the oil fields as a young
man, but he continued his acting, too.
the University of Mississippi for a short time and later became an
assistant stage manager at a New Orleans repertory company. His
first marriage, to Beverly Root, produced a daughter, Jessica, and a
son, Angus, who was born deaf. He divorced and remarried to Patricia
Rae Moran and the couple adopted a daughter, Katie. His first TV
appearance was in 1969.
Fame would take
its time finding McRaney, but he finally got a break when he landed
a lead part in the series, "Simon & Simon" (1981-85). His
character, Rick Simon, was passionate but irresponsible, and the
role proved that McRaney could handle a dramatic role with a comedic
edge. It was the perfect segue into another successful series,
"Major Dad" (1989-93), a situation comedy.
McRaney met Burke
when they were presenters at a Hollywood awards luncheon and were
seated together. He later was a guest on "Designing Women." The
couple's marriage in 1989 was a cover story in People magazine,
which attests to their popularity at the time. Today, McRaney is a
regular on the HBO series "Deadwood" and hosts an outdoor adventure
show on the OLN Network.
Delta Ramona Leah
Burke was born July 30, 1956, in Orlando, Fla. She's become so
closely identified with her character in "Designing Women," Suzanne
Sugarbaker, that many assume she's from the Deep South, or at least
not from Florida. But not only is Delta a Floridian, she won the
title of Miss Florida at the age of 17 and competed in the Miss
America contest, representing her state.
She didn't win the
beauty pageant, but she did win a talent scholarship, which she used
to attend a two-year study program at the London Academy of Music
and Dramatic Arts. She returned to the States and, within a month
landed roles in two mini-series: "The Seekers" (1979) and "The
Chisolms" (1980). That led to a leading role in the series "Filthy
Rich" (1982) and "1st & 10" (1984).
But these were
mere warmups for what was to become the role of a lifetime: the
co-lead in one of the most popular situation comedies of all time,
"Designing Women" (1986-1993). In it, Delta played a shallow
ex-beauty queen who, with her sister (Julia Sugarbaker, played by
Dixie Carter) ran a successful design firm out of Julia's Atlanta
home. Annie Potts and Jean Smart also starred.
The McRaneys' 1989
was a cover story in People magazine, attesting to their
popularity at the time.
Both stars continue their
acting careers. McRaney is in the HBO
hit series "Deadwood,"
Burke was just on Broadway in "Steel
Delta Burke's massive
of porcelain dolls took up most of two rooms in a
house she and Gerald previously lived in.
McRaney's first big break
came when he was cast in the hit show "Simon & Simon" (1981-88).
He played the passionate but irresponsible Rick Simon.