SIOUX CITY | In the mid-1980s, interest swirled around something called “The Gopher Gap”: Would Iowans buy a television star as their congressman?
Quickly, the answer was “yes” and native Sioux Cityan Fred Grandy was able to launch a new career after years on “The Love Boat” as the goofy purser Burl “Gopher” Smith.
In 1986, Grandy was elected to represent the Sixth District, replacing longtime Congressman Berkley Bedell. He gained considerable attention in Washington – thanks to the TV connection – and pleased Northwest Iowa voters often enough to stay in office until 1995.
During his four terms, Grandy won eight Watchdog of the Treasury Awards before setting his sights on a different job – governor.
In a contentious 1994 primary against incumbent Terry Branstad, Grandy lost by 4 percentage points. Branstad went on to win re-election. Grandy turned his sights to the non-profit sector.
From 1995 to 2000, he was president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International. He appeared on TV then, too, often speaking for the organization.
When that stint ended, Grandy turned to radio, serving as a political commentator for National Public Radio, and teaching at the University of Maryland.
Grandy, 66, also has worked with the Center for Security Policy in Washington. Additionally, he has stepped back into acting.
Two of his three children have followed him into the entertainment business. Son Charlie is currently an executive producer of “The Mindy Project.” Daughter Marya is an actress who has appeared on Broadway in "Les Miserables" and on television in numerous shows.