Delta Burke was a beauty queen both in real life and on the big screen. She met and married her co-star, Gerald McRaney, on set. Their marriage has lasted 33 years.
In her twenties, Burke became well-known as the former beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker on the TV show “Designing Women.” For her part, the Florida native was nominated twice for an Emmy.
McRaney was hired as Sugarbaker’s previous spouse, Dash Goff, on the sitcom in 1987. Off-screen, they fell in love and married in a lavish wedding in 1989. Their “Designing Women” co-stars, as well as 500 other friends, attended the wedding.
Burke was also a beauty queen in real life. When she was in high school at Orlando’s Colonial High School, she was Miss Florida. She has, however, struggled with her weight her whole life and has been subjected to body shaming.
Others made fun of her for gaining weight, which hurt her and her acting career. Her career suffered a huge setback, and she lost contact with her famous co-star, Dixie Carter. Burke lost his will to live in the midst of all of this.
The author attempted to lose weight, but with frequent taunting and ridiculing, as well as her show’s ratings decreasing, her stress levels increased.
Burke asked the show’s creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, to make an episode about her weight gain during Season 4 of “Designing Women” so that she could talk about it directly. The episode’s theme was “They Shoot Big Women, Don’t They?” which showed Burke receiving bullying for her size from friends while attending her high school reunion.
“I hear she’s the new poster kid for ‘Save the Whales,’” one of them added. “I hear her prior spouses departed because they couldn’t get enough to eat,” said another.
Despite the fact that the show made fun of the actress, it won her an Emmy nomination. It didn’t stop her from being mocked off-screen, and her career suffered as a result.
As Burke’s confidence dropped, her relationship with her “Designing Women” co-star Dixie Carter got worse. Their friendship began in 1982, when they co-starred in the short-lived comedy program “Filthy Rich.”
But when Burke dealt with issues with “Designing Women” management, their friendship was caught in the crossfire, and they had a falling out.
Carter acknowledged her strained relationship with Burke in June 2000, following years of silence. The actress, who served as Burke’s maid of honor during her wedding to McRaney, opened up about their “tight” friendship, saying:
“The reality is that I adore Delta. I always have and will continue to do so. When it comes to our friendship and seeing each other again, I don’t think it should be made public.”
During the interview, Carter expressed her gratitude to her estranged friend and spouse, saying she was “glad” for all the positive things in her life.
Burke burst into tears when he heard this. “That’s what she said? Really? I just assumed everything had come undone,” the producer stated.
Burke said that she and Carter had an amazing connection and that she had been “kind” to her. “And the most heartbreaking aspect of what occurred was what transpired between us,” she stated.
Because of her weight troubles, the “Ladies of the House” alum’s entire public image shifted. Jean Smart, Burke’s former co-star, revealed, “She moved from feeling like sort of the press darling to being their favorite target.”
In addition to the press, disc jockeys joined in and made fun of Burke all the time. They even wrote a song called “Delta Dawn, how many pounds have you gained?
Burke described the bad media attention she received as a “crisis,” since they also published intimate details affecting her and her husband, McRaney.
She wasn’t used to that, and on top of that, they were after her career, which she called “vicious.” Burke claimed that she worked hard to develop a “positive” reputation, only for them to trash it.
Even on set, she couldn’t avoid the maltreatment, recalling how everyone would talk about her as if she weren’t there. Burke related:
“I recall being on the sound stage with people crowding around me trying to determine what to dress me in. They’d talk about me as if I weren’t even there. ‘How are we going to deal with those hips?’”
Burke developed depression as a result of all the negativity surrounding her weight, and she relied on medicine and a therapist to deal with it. As she returned to work for the third season, her panic episodes became more severe.
Carter escorted the brunette to the clinic, where she was hospitalized since she was physically and psychologically exhausted. Burke revealed during that time:
“The nurse described me as looking like a wounded animal. I didn’t want to be alive. I remember being weighed, and I was 170 pounds, and I just wanted to die.”
By the fifth season of the program, there were allegations that Burke had been suspended and was causing problems on the set. There was also talk that she might be fired if she didn’t shed the weight. Nevertheless, Bloodworth-Thomason, co-executive producer, maintained that the rumors were false, adding, “It’s like when you gain weight, you have no right to reside in America.”
Yet, tensions were intense behind the scenes, and Burke was fired in 1991. Following her departure, she struggled but sought to recreate her Sugarbaker character in a comeback series, “Delta,” in 1992. The sitcom was canceled by ABC a year later, in 1993.
In 1995, CBS aired “Ladies of the House,” a sitcom based on Suzanne Sugarbaker and developed by Thomason. Nevertheless, it was discontinued after only three months on the air.
Burke weighed 215 pounds when she left “Designing Women” in 1991. She assumed her Type 2 diabetes was caused by her weight.
Burke’s six-month marriage to McRaney became the focus of curiosity, in addition to her being tormented by the press and receiving frequent criticism about her weight. The media implied that the “Major Dad” actor was cheating on his wife because she was overweight. The star of “Sordid Lives” revealed:
“He was alleged to be feeding me. He said I was too big. That’s where we’re having problems. That he’s evicting me.”
Burke revealed that after suggesting that Thomason incorporate her weight into the program, she wrote an “amazing script” that made her husband cry.
Even though the rumors were true, Burke and McRaney kept working on their marriage, which was on the verge of breaking up because of the bad press. Yet her adored spouse, often known as “Mac,” had nothing but positive things to say about her.
McRaney couldn’t care less about “how obese” his wife became and has always been there for her, even driving to be with her when she was sad. Burke stated that she weighed 170 pounds on the day of the couple’s wedding, but her husband-to-be remained unfazed.
“He was unconcerned about his weight.” He informed me that he didn’t care, which I, of course, didn’t believe.
McRaney stated openly, “There are cases of guys who are “total jerks,” comfortable with “trophy” wives, but most of the time, things don’t work out for them. But if you want a wife, you must love that person. Period, he went on to say.
McRaney met his future wife when she weighed 150 pounds. Burke revealed that she was able to maintain her weight for a year. Despite this, her husband adores her, saying:
“She’s a lot smarter and tougher than I am.”
Despite the difficulties she had endured up to that time, including her weight concerns, Burke’s spouse loved her regardless of what she went through.
“He adored me as I grew to the size of a house. He adored me when I was a brunette. He didn’t tell me he didn’t like it until I went back to being a brunette. He has loved me through my good and bad times. He still believes my physique looks amazing, despite the fact that it does not,” she agreed.
Although Burke seems to find her husband to be attractive and strong enough to stand up for herself, she knows she can always rely on him to come to her aid.
In his office, executive producer Harry Thomason yelled at the cast and threw things at them. She told him she didn’t like it and tried to leave, but he stopped her. Thomason’s “abuse” lasted until he discovered Burke’s husband was on his way to their production office.
The marriage remained strong even through difficult times. When Burke lost her job and they were struggling financially in 1995, they sold their Pasadena house and relocated to New Orleans, which benefited their union.
Burke’s life changed for the better as she was able to reconstruct it. She started a plus-size clothing business and toured the country with her book, “Delta Style,” in 1997.
Admirers call Burke, who is now 66, “gorgeous” as she enjoys life with her husband and stepchildren. They lived with Burke’s mother in the mid-2000s, and she praised McRaney for assisting her in overcoming adversity.
Burke described her spouse as “amazing,” since growing weight over the years didn’t affect him. He did, however, pay close attention to her, counseling her on what to eat and administering her insulin injections. McRaney informed his wife that it made him feel as though he cared about her.
Burke claimed that they were both in good health and felt “glad” about it, believing that her health would improve. The TV personality stated that she will commemorate that period in her life.
Additionally, people have taken note of how fantastic Burke looks now. Despite the fact that she and McRaney now live a low-key existence, they were sighted in February 2023, and she was allegedly different.
On social media, one admirer said, “She is wonderful,” while another wrote, “She looks beautiful.” A third user remarked that, in addition to her stunning looks, she is “talented” and that it is amazing that she founded her own clothing line, demonstrating her excellent sense of fashion.
Burke has moved away from the spotlight. She rarely goes out in public and doesn’t have a website, but her husband still performs.
Burke and McRaney married on May 28, 1989, and have been together for three decades. He has three children from his two previous marriages, including daughters Jessica and Kate and a son, Angus.
Beverly Root was McRaney’s first wife, whom he married in 1966 but divorced in 1971. He later married Pat Moran in 1981, but the couple divorced in 1989.
McRaney and Burke made their public debut in November 2014 in Studio City, California. She became scarce after collapsing on the set of her pilot, “Counter Culture,” in 2012, resulting in the termination of the production.
Burke said that she was content despite a dearth of work opportunities: “Everything is in order.” “I’m simply not feeling it right now!”