McCray was born on June 7, 1928, the second son of Thomas Chapman McCray — an executive with the NBC Radio Network — and singer Dorothy Baldwin McCray. A Hartford, Conn., native, McCray found his passion for entertainment early on during his time at the Kimball Union Academy prep school in New Hampshire. While at Kimball, McCray built sets, directed, acted, and sang in several school theatrical productions.
Three years after graduating from the University of Hartford, McCray began his television career at NBC in L.A. as a production coordinator on the “All Star Revue” and “The Colgate Comedy Hour.” Other assignments followed quickly, including “The Red Skelton Show,” “The Ralph Edwards Show,” “This Is Your Life,” and “You Bet Your Life” starring Groucho Marx.
When NBC announced its shift away from live television into filmed entertainment,