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. They have been married for 33 years.
Burke came to notoriety in her twenties as former beauty queen Suzanne Sugarbaker on the television comedy “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. While she was in high school at Orlando’s Colonial High School, she was Miss Florida. She has, however, battled with her weight her whole life and has been subjected to body shaming.
Others made fun of her for growing weight, which hurt her and her acting career. Her career suffered a huge setback, and she lost contact with her renowned co-star, Dixie Carter. Burke lost the 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 urged the show’s creator, Linda Bloodworth-Thomason, to dedicate an episode during Season 4 of “Designing Women” to her weight increase in order to address it straight on. “They Shoot Fat Women, Don’t They?” was the subject of the episode, which depicted Burke being teased by friends for her weight while attending her high school reunion.
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 profession suffered as a result.
Burke’s connection with her “Designing Women” co-star, Dixie Carter, worsened as her confidence plummeted more. Their relationship began in 1982, when they co-starred on the short-lived comedy program “Filthy Rich.”
But when Burke dealt with issues with “Designing Women” management, their relationship 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, spoke out about their “tight” friendship.
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 she heard this.
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 them,” she stated.
Because of her weight troubles, the “Ladies of the House” alum’s whole public image shifted. Jean Smart, Burke’s former co-star, revealed that she moved from feeling like a press darling to being their favorite target.
In addition to the press, disc jockeys got on the bandwagon and constantly mocked Burke. They even wrote a song called “Delta Dawn, how many pounds have you put on?”
Burke described the bad media attention she got as a “crisis,” since they also published intimate details affecting her and her husband, McRaney.
She wasn’t accustomed 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 the way everybody would speak about her as if she wasn’t there.
Burke developed depression as a result of all the negative around her weight, and she depended on medicine and a therapist to cope 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.
During the fifth season of the program, there were allegations that Burke had been suspended and was creating problems on production. 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 that it’s like when one gain weight, one has no right to reside in America.
Yet, tensions were intense behind the scenes, and Burke was fired in 1991. After her departure, she suffered 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 “Women of the House,” a sitcom based on Suzanne Sugarbaker and developed by Thomason. Nevertheless, it was discontinued after just 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 a focus of curiosity in addition to being tormented by the press and frequent criticism about her weight. The media implied that the “Major Dad” actor was cheating on his wife since she was overweight.
Burke said that after suggesting that Thomason include her weight in the program, she wrote an “amazing script” that made her husband weep.
Notwithstanding the rumors, Burke and McRaney continued to work on their marriage, which was on the verge of failing due to negative publicity. 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.
McRaney said openly that there are cases of guys who are total jerks and 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 said that she was able to maintain her weight for a year. Despite this, her husband adores her, saying that she’s a lot smarter and tougher than he is.
Despite the difficulties she had endured up to that time, including her weight concerns, Burke’s husband loved her regardless of what she went through.
Although Burke seems to find her husband to be attractive and strong enough to stand up for herself, she understands she can always rely on him to come to her aid.
As executive producer Harry Thomason yelled at the actors and tossed items at them in his office, she expressed her displeasure and attempted to leave the room but was forcefully restrained. 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 marriage.
Burke’s life had changed for the better as she was able to reconstruct it. She started a plus-size clothing business and toured the nation with her book, “Delta Style,” in 1997.
Burke, now 66, is described as “gorgeous” by admirers as she cherishes 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 excellent health and felt “glad” about it, believing that her health would improve. The TV personality said that she will commemorate that period in her life.
Also, admirers have noticed 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 pulled away from the spotlight, making few public appearances and having no internet presence, while her husband continues to perform.
Burke and McRaney married on May 28, 1989, and have been together for three decades. He has three kids 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 subsequently 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.