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My Story

Michael McGrady

I have been very fortunate to have experienced success in a wide variety of ventures, professional acting being the most public. I have a lot to say about life, faith, resilience, setbacks, challenges, goals, tradition, common sense, values etc.

 

I’ve had my fair share of setbacks, challenges, and losses. At the age of seven I pulled a candy machine down upon myself while on vacation with my family in SoCal. I cracked my head open, front to back, and needed plastic surgery on the left side of my face. This was just two days before my first day of elementary school, resulting in my being homeschooled for the first 4 months of school. This made it very difficult to assimilate with my peers because, friendships had already been formed. 

 

At the age eight I lost my best friend to a motorcycle accident. I was to attend his birthday and a sleepover the night he was killed. That was my introduction to death. At ten, I lost my grandmother to lung cancer. 

 

By the time I was sixteen I had broken my left leg in three pieces while snow skiing, leaving me in a cast for seven months. I have also broken my nose six times due to competing in various sports. At the age of eighteen - the day before my High School graduation, my father passed away from skin cancer, He was forty-six. In a frightening turn of events, I was diagnosed with skin cancer one year later at the age of 19. The same stage three and location on my body, as my fathers. That was life changing. Being a cancer survivor at the age of 19 in 1979 was not as ubiquitous as it might be today. My experience as a cancer survivor at such a young age in the 1970’s has provided me with a unique perspective on overcoming the mental, physical and spiritual challenges that cancer presents.

 

I quit attending the University of Washington as a business major in my senior year pursuing a career in law, to move to Los Angeles with one hundred and eighty-three dollars in my pocket and a one-way ticket, to try my luck at acting. I had no training, just a dream and an overwhelming sense of destiny. That has had its share of ups and downs but somehow, I was able to raise a family of five as an actor, artist, and acting teacher. 

 

I survived a divorce at the age of forty-two. I do not use that word survive carelessly, I wouldn’t wish divorce and the breakup of family upon my worst enemy - I have much to say about this life changing event.

 

Picking up the pieces was very difficult. Within 6 months of my separation from my first wife, my mother died of lung cancer at the age of sixty-three.  Due to severe depression, I was not capable of giving a decent audition, so my agency and managers dropped me as a client. I lost my dream home - 11 acres in the hills of Malibu, as it was too expensive to keep up and I had to find ways to survive financially while sharing the three kids 50/50 with their mother. It was a difficult time for all of us. 

 

In 2006 I had to have both my hips replaced and was told I’d have to slow down and be very careful in everything I did and that I would not be able to surf or play men’s basketball or many of the other activities I enjoy. Within 6 months I was back on the court, surfing the waves and doing everything I did before and still do.

 

And now recently, at the age of sixty-one, looking forward to a carefree retirement into my twilight years enjoying the fruit of my labor, I am overwhelmingly sad to say I have lost my only son, my best friend, and my last pupil to teach the ways of the world, on May 1, 2021. I am still reeling from this loss as you can imagine. He was 23 and just two weeks shy of walking virtually with his graduating class as a Computer Engineer. He earned his BS in Computer Engineering. 

 

Throughout all the foregoing, I managed to earn a black belt in Kenpo Karate, compete in full contact karate to help pay for college. I also worked as a logger, construction worker, steelyard worker andbank teller. I founded and ran the first and only aerobics business in Seattle for three years while attending the University of Washington. At the same time, I had a boat bottom cleaning business using my scuba diving training and equipment to clean the bottom of boats. I had a near drowning accident while diving once. Another long story but good one. I was  baptized  at the age of 10 and called into part time ministry at the age of 20. I have worked as a teen ministry leader, worship leader, bible teacher, itinerant preacher and a part time pastor ever since. My faith is my most precious and valuable gift. God's grace, love, mercy and wisdom has lead me through the darkest of valley's and guided me into enjoying the mountaintops with humility and gratitude.

 

I’ve been in two car accidents- not my fault, one boating accident-my fault, I’ve been a falconer, ski patrolman and instructor, rock climber, mountain climber, I have competed in a few half triathlons, the most recent five years ago at age 55. I flew hang gliders around the globe for over fifteen years, logging in over 1,100 hours of flying and flights of over four to five hours at a time. I had one controlled crash that almost took my life- another story.  I currently: Surf, windsurf, sail, ride my Harley, paint, and play guitar around the area where I live. (Mostly meaningful covers and original material I wrote myself. I do it for my soul, certainly not for the money) I had a band that played in the LA area for few years. We played at various wineries in the area. 

 

I’ve renovated two homes from the ground up. I am a self-taught artist represented at one time by 6 galleries in the U.S. I am a sculptor of marble, a muralist. Melissa Gilbert of Little House on the Prairie fame had me do several murals and Tromp l’oeil projects in her home. I’ve painted various projects for other celebrities as well. I currently paint easel paintings. I’ve raced motorcycles, competed in snow skiing and water skiing and all team sports. I have made a very good living as a successful actor in both film and television which is no small feat. I founded and ran An Actors Workshop in Agoura Hills, CA. for seventeen years. I did not advertise; it was all word of mouth. I worked with several working actors and some celebrities, helping them land jobs that for years had been eluding them. My greatest accomplishment and the one I am most proud of is I have raised three wonderful kids who are now adults and thriving in their professions. My son of course is enjoying Heaven with my mom and dad. 

 

In short, after my cancer diagnosis I held onto two quotes, both of which I shared at my son’s celebration of Life. 

 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. 

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall make your path smooth.”

Proverbs 3:5-7

 

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” - Marcus Aurelius 

 

 “In the world it is easy to live after the world’s opinion and when alone to live after one’s own. But the great man is he who can maintain with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude even whilst in the midst of a crowd” - Ralph Waldo Emerson- Essay on Self Reliance. 

 

Please know I find no pleasure in tooting my own horn, it’s not my style. However, I know that my story as an overcomer of the odds and one who chooses to never say never, or it can’t be done, can, and has been, inspirational to those I’ve shared it with. 

 

 I believe in taking a big bite out of life and my policy is no fear. While coaching all three of my kids in a variety of sports and guiding them through life, I have told them, “You must do the things you have to do in order to do the things you want to do.”