Captain Daniel Gregg is the ghost of a sea captain featured on the NBC/ABC fantasy comedy THE GHOST & MRS. MUIR (1968-70).
Captain Gregg’s spirit (Edward Mulhare) haunted a charming New England seaside cottage called Gull Cottage in Schooner Bay, Maine until one day, an attractive freelance writer and widow from Philadelphia named Mrs. Carolyn Muir (Hope Lange) moved into the cottage along with her two children, Candice and Jonathan; their pet wire-haired terrier, Scruffy; and Martha Grant, the housekeeper.
Captain Daniel Gregg had died in the cottage one night in November 13, 1869 when he accidentally kicked over a gas heater by his bedside. The fumes killed him, but his death was wrongfully reported as a suicide. So, for one hundred years, Daniel retained possession of the cottage by haunting it and scaring potential buyers away.
In 1968, Claymore Gregg (Charles Nelson Reilly) , Daniel’s only living relative leased the cottage to the strong-willed but unsuspecting Carolyn Muir. It was either lease the cottage or have it torn down because of the cost to maintain the property.
Upon seeing the cottage for the first time, Carolyn says, “It’s exactly what I had in mind – a dear, gentle lovely little house.”
After the Captain revealed his boisterous self, Carolyn requests, “Now that we’ve moved in, I hope you’ll be kind enough to do your haunting elsewhere.” The Captain thundered back, “You do your living elsewhere”. Upset, Carolyn confesses, “the minute I saw this house I seemed to belong here. It’s as though it was welcoming me, asking me to rescue it from being empty.”
As Carolyn began to cry, she explained that she spent her life savings to move to Schooner Bay and that she couldn’t leave. Seeing Carolyn’s “spunk” and that she truly loved the house, Daniel establishes a truce with Carolyn and allows her to stay – on a trial basis.
Carolyn moved into Gregg’s upstairs bedroom (“The Captain’s Cabin”) to be close to her children while the spirit of the Captain kept watch on the observation deck on the roof above or resided within his oil painting portrait in the parlor.
When it came time to change her clothes, however, the ever modest Carolyn still stepped inside in a closet to disrobe. After all, dead or not. Captain Gregg was a man, and a handsome one at that. Truth be told, the Captain popped in occasionally just to watch Carolyn sleep.
Over time, Carolyn and the Captain became comfortable with each others rhythms and habits. Caroline began to predict Daniel’s moods by reading the barometer on the wall (When angry, the device indicated “Stormy Weather”).
Carolyn even became fond of the Captain’s favorite expression “Blast!” which she adopted as one of her own curse words.
And every Tuesday, Carolyn and the Captain established a custom, if time permitted, to meet in the wheelhouse at 2:00pm and share a leisurely glass of Madeira.
The biggest mistake Carolyn ever made while living at Gull Cottage was cutting down the Captain’s prized but now overgrown Monkey Puzzle tree. He had personally planted the tree 137 years earlier.
After Carolyn had the tree removed, Daniel Gregg’s spirit suddenly left the cottage, as if the tree had somehow rooted him there. Desperate, Carolyn traveled to Boston and bought a new tree. Upon planting it, the Captain returned.
In her spare time, Carolyn acts in community theater plays held in a converted cod liver oil plant. She eats at a local restaurant named “The Lobster House.”
To earn extra money, Carolyn collaborated with Captain Gregg to write a tale of a female stowaway on the high seas from a women’s perspective.
Called “Maiden Voyage,” the manuscript was praised by the editor of The Feminine View. Ellsworth Gordon wanted to publish the story and others if she decided to write them.
Unfortunately, Carolyn’s virtuous nature was compromised when she discovered that the Captain had taken liberties with the final manuscript and added “spicy” scenes which lead people to believe that Carolyn, too, was a “wild woman.” She quickly put those rumors to rest by telling her publisher that she could no longer write any more such tales because her collaborator, a ghostwriter” (Gregg) had died.
Carolyn’s other acquaintances included:
- Mr. Wilkin, the general storekeeper
- Norrie Coolidge, the town Constable
- Uncle Arnold, a traveling salesman with a penchant for corny jokes and inept magic tricks (as old as the Captain)
- Blair Thompson, a wealthy old flame whose proposal attempt made the Captain jealous
- Psychiatrist Dr. Jim Mead, a family friend from Philadelphia who tried to convince Carolyn that Gregg was just a delusion, a figment of her imagination
- Ralph and Marjorie Muir, her in-laws who urge Carolyn to return to Philadelphia to provide her son Jonathan with the opportunity of a good education at Dexter Academy, the same school his father attended
- Admiral Snedaker, a soup manufacturer who placed a photograph of Captain Gregg on the label of Yankee Skipper Clam Chowder
- Newspaper editor Mark Finley who hires Carolyn to write for the local Schooner Bay Beacon (the paper prints – although 100 year late – a retraction that reveals that Captain Gregg did not die of suicide, but rather from a gas leak)
- Aggie Berns, a friend of Carolyn’s from Philadelphia
- Sean Callahan, a Irish writer who looks just like Captain Gregg and writes a book entitled “The Great Ghost Gregg”
- Harriet, Carolyn’s inquisitive cousin from Philadelphia (who has a twin sister, Hazel)
- Carolyn’s parents, Emily and Bradford Williams who learned about “The Captain” from snoopy cousin Harriet.
Poem written by Captain Gregg to Carolyn
If only I could touch your hand,
The shore bird’s call, the sea breeze,
The spruce-wood mast that rises tall —
I’d happily forget them all,
If only I could touch your hand.
If I could link your arm in mine,
The tropic sun, the emerald surf,
The fleecy clouds like sugar spun —
I’d happily forget each one,
If I could link your arm in mine.
Of all the things that cannot be,
There’s one alone means most to me —
It’s not the lure of distant shores.
It’s that my lips cannot touch yours.
My lips cannot touch yours.
NOTE: The “Ghost & Mrs. Muir” TV series is based on the 1945 novel of the same name written by Josephine Aimee Campbell Leslie under the pseudonym R. A. Dick and the 1947 movie adaptation starring Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney (called Mrs. Lucia “Lucy” Muir who lived at Whitecliff-by-the-Sea). The cottage used as Gull Cottage on the TV series is located at 60 Olive Mill Road in Montecito, California.
Captain Daniel Gregg
c/o Carolyn Muir
Schooner Bay, Maine