Most people who watched sitcoms in the 70s, 80s, and 90s will forever remember one of the most enthralling sitcom series to grace their screen, The Love Boat. From the first episode airing on September 17, 1976, to the final episode on February 12, 1990, millions of viewers worldwide were taken on a cruise that told the story of the captain and crew of Pacific Princess- a crew ship and their attempts to help passengers with their romantic endeavors while going on humorous adventures.
The series had 250 episodes grouped into nine seasons that aired from 1977 to 1986, with four three-hour specials aired in 1986, 1987, and 1990. This article will discuss everything about this TV show to help you live old memories.
The Love Boat was Actually Based on a Book, and the Book was Based on Reality.
The famous American sitcom series was based on a non-fiction book written by American author and lecturer, Jeraldine Saunders, titled; “Love Boats.” Saunders had been a real-life cruise director for a passenger cruise ship line, and her experiences helped her write the book.
Saunders wrote the memoir from the account of the period when she was employed as the first full-time director on the Princess Cruises’. The Princess Cruises’ first set sail in 1965 with a single ship cruising to Mexico and was catapulted to the limelight when one of its ships, Pacific Princess, was cast in a starring role in the TV series.
Jeraldine Saunders: How She Inspired the Love Boat Sitcom
According to Jeraldine Saunders in a 1972 interview with the Los Angeles Times, the memoir was based on what she observed in the decade she spent working on the Pacific Princess. “You cannot imagine the things that happen on cruise ships,” she told the reporter, “The sex lives of the officers, suicides, marriages, romances…, I was pretty shocked at first.”
A few other memorable experiences of hers included wild fights among the musicians, the disaster of the heat that left 750 passengers in the hot weather without any soap, mistaking a seaport for the name of a cabin were all part of the background work that eventually inspired the idea of turning her book into one of the most popular shows in history.
The Life of Jeraldine Saunders; Author of “The Love Boat”
Geraldine Loretta Glynn, her birth name, was born in Los Angeles during the Great Depression. She was one of five children raised by a single mother. She was raised by her mother, who was a firm believer in using what you have. As a young lady, Geraldine worked as a model before joining the Princess Cruises’, rising through the rank to become the first female full-time director.
She was married three times; first to Russell Philips, who gave her the only child she would have, Astrologer Sydney Omarr, a brief engagement to actor Albert Dekker and Arthur Andrews, whom she remained married to until he died 2003.
What Happened to the Author of the Book that ABC Network Eventually Turned into the Series?
In addition to the popularly acclaimed series, Saunders wrote several romance novels, including The Frisco Fortune and Spanish Serenade. She also learned astrology, numerology, and palm reading and was writing a proposal for a Broadway Musical based on The Love Boat, a new memoir at the time of her death. Saunders had also been updating her book; Hypoglycemia, The Disease Your Doctor Won’t Treat, the book she dedicated to her only child, Gail Maureen, who died of the disease at the age of 27.
Jeraldine Saunders died in her home in Glendale. Her spokesman, Edward Lozzi, said that cause of death was complications of kidney stone surgery she had two months prior. On September 3, 1923, Saunders was born and died on February 26, 2019, at age 96, leaving no offspring behind.
The Love Boat Crew: Then and Now
The cast of the long-running sitcom mainly were Hollywood stars. From fashion designers like Gloria Vanderbilt, Bob Mackie, Halston to well-known actors and actresses like Olivia de Havilland, Lilian Gish, Cab Calloway, Olivia.
It also featured upcoming actors: Helen Hayes, Gene Kelly, Michael J. Fox, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, Willie Aames, Kristy McNichol, and John Ritter. And a few other surprises with the appearance of Janet Jackson and even Andy Warhol.
Captain Merrill Stubing- Gavin MacLeod
Gavin MacLeod was born Allan George See on February 28, 1931, married twice, and served in the US military Air Force from 1952 to 1954. When Gavin was offered a role on The Love Boat, he had just finished seven years on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, where he played Murray Slaughter, husband to the main character and the head writer at a television station.
Initially, his agent sent him a review when he sent the script telling him that “it sucked.” But when Gavin read it, he knew that it was a gold mine that could produce a fantastic result, and as his wife said, “it would work given the right cast.” And he was right because it played a part in his memoir.
Where is Gavin MacLeod Now?
After The Love Boat, Gavin appeared in some musicals, co-hosted an airline safety video, conducted the Colorado Symphony, and co-authored a book with his second wife, Patti, whom he divorced in 1982 but later remarried in 1985 after his conversion to Christianity. His devotion to religion also led to him playing a lead role in the 2008 Christian movie; Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.
He co-hosted a show on the Trinity Broadcasting Network called Back on Course for 17 years. After a long life dedicated to acting and writing, Gavin died at his home in Palm Desert, California, on May 29, 2021, at the age of 90. Four children survived him.
Doctor Adam Bricker- Bernie Kopell
Kopell was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 21, 1933. He served in the US military under the United States Navy from 1955 to 1957 and as a librarian at Naval Air Station in Norfolk, Virginia. After completing active duty, a fellow graduate, James Drury, was compelled to come to Los Angeles.
Bernie Kopell started his acting career impersonating Puerto Rican, Mexican, and Latino characters in TV shows like My Favorite Martian, The Jack Benny Program. He also appeared in many television series such as The Streets of San Francisco, Petticoat Junction, Green Acres, and Ben Casey.
Where is Bernie Kopell Now?
When the Television Academy interviewed him on how he got the role of Dr. Adam Bicker, Kopell jokingly said, “I had this nautical jacket…and I’m going to sell this thing, that I’m nautical.” But the real reason he landed the role can be attributed to his chemistry with Candy Azzara during the audition.
Bernie Kopell appeared in more TV shows, including Diagnosis, Murder, Charmed, Arrested Development, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Silicon and B Positive. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Catrina Honadle, and they have two sons, Adam and Josh.
Yeoman Purser Burl “Gopher” Smith- Fred Grandy
Fred Grandy was born on June 29, 1948, in Sioux City, Iowa. He was the youngest of three sons of William Grandy. When his father died of a heart attack and his mother of an aneurysm a year later, young Grandy was sent off to live with his mother’s best friend.
Before starring on The Love Boat sitcom, Grandy played guest roles on many shows, including; Love, American Style, Mary Tyler Moore, Maude, Phyllis, and Welcome Back, Knotter. He also starred in the saturday morning TV series Monster Squad and the 1973 made-for-TV movie, The Girl Most Likely To.
Where is Fred Grandy Now?
Fred Grandy played Burl “Gopher” Smith on the series and wrote several sitcom vignettes. The role of “Gopher” as a congressman was also an indication of his interest in politics. He served as a speechwriter for Wiley Mayne, a Republican congressman, and friend. He campaigned for the open Iowa United States House of Representative seat and was a serving member from January 3, 1987 to January 3, 1995.
He married Jan Gough in 1969, whom he later divorced and married his current partner, novelist Catherine Mann. He had a son and a daughter from the first union and a daughter from the second. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, with his wife in the host of Grandy Group, a morning drive time radio.
Bartender Isaac Washington- Ted Lange
In Oakland, California, full name Theodore Williams Lange (Ted) was born on January 5, 1948. His parents, Geraldine and Ted Lange, were both working in theatre and Television. Ted followed in their footsteps by studying Drama at the San Francisco City College.
After college, he appeared in Oakland theatre productions and as a guest artist at Santa Clara. Ted made his debut in the Broadway musical Hair and had his first screen appearance in the documentary film, Wattstax in 1973 and Black Belt Jones.
Where is Ted Lange Now?
Ted married Sheryl Thompson in 1978, had two children- Ted IV and Turner Wallace Lange. The couple later divorced in 1989, and Ted was married in 2001 to Mary Ley. He served as a screenwriter and director of several episodes of The Love Boat, including the UPN series based on the sitcom.
Among Ted’s accomplishments are 17 plays, including George Washington’s Boy, and extensive theatre work. In 2008, he directed the drama, For Love of Amy. Ted received, among many awards, the NAACP’s Renaissance Man Theatre Award for his work theatre directing, Heroes and Legends HAL Lifetime Achievement Award. He lives in Palm Springs with his wife, Mary Ley.
Cruise Director Julie McCoy- Lauren Tewes
Much like the real-life full-time cruise director, Jeraldine Saunders, Lauren played the role of cruise director on the long=running TV series. She was born on October 26, 1953, and was one of four children. When her one-year scholarship to the University of California expired, Lauren joined the Pacific Conservatory Theatre in Santa Maria.
Tewes made her stage debut there in two productions, Arsenic and Old Lace and The Most Happy Fella, before becoming a member of the Birdcage Theatre Company, an amusement complex outside Los Angeles. Her first real break came in from a role in a Lipton Ice Tea commercial.
Where is Lauren Tewes Now?
Lauren was selected from over 100 actresses who auditioned to play the role of Julie McCoy. She was so excited that she kept on repeating the wrong surname in her opening line. However, Lauren’s career on The Love Boat did not go as she had initially planned because after seven seasons, she was replaced due to a public battle with cocaine.
The actress overcame her addiction and later stared in classical TV series like My Two Dads, The New Mike Hammer, and Murder. Lauren got married and divorced John Wassel in 1977 and Paolo Nonni’s in 1985, with whom she had a one-month-old daughter that she lost. She married again in 1996 to Robert Nadir, and they stayed married till his death in 2002. She currently works as a sous chef for a catering company when she is not acting.
Vicki Stubing- Jill Whelan
Wheelan joined the cast at the age of 11, playing Captain Stubing’s younger daughter. She was born in Oakland, California, in 1968. After playing a role in a local production of The King and I at the age of 8, she sent her school picture to a San Francisco Talent Agency, where she was offered roles in a series of TV commercials.
According to her, the sitcom series changed her life. She made friends with the cast, became pen pals with Ethel Merman, and even got held at gunpoint with Debbie Allen in Egypt while they were filming. She also made an appearance in the 1980 American Parody film, Airplanes, where she played a sick passenger.
Where is Jill Whelan Now?
During the early 1980s, Whelan pursued a career in politics and served as national spokeswoman for First Lady Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” anti-drug campaign. In 1999, she started working as an investigative producer at the Los Angeles television station KCOP.
Whelan made her New York City cabaret debut with her one-woman show, Jill Whelan: An Evening in Dry Dock. She also anchored in The Brian and Jill Show as a co-host with Brian Phelps in 2013. Harrison and Grant had two sons from her first two marriages and finally settled down with Jeff Knapple, former Denver Broncos quarterback, in 2017.
“Your Ship Photographer”- Ted McGinley
In four specials that aired later, McGinley’s role on The Love Boat was Ashley Covington Evans from season 7 to season 9 and Yeoman purser. On May 30, 1958, he was born in Newport Beach, California, and started as a model before making his way into the acting industry.
McGinley’s first big break occurred when a casting director spotted a picture of him in Gentlemen’s Quarterly, an American international monthly men’s magazine. He was offered the role of Roger Phillips on the comedy series Happy Days. During that time, he landed a role in the comedy film Young Doctors in Love.
Where is Ted McGinley Now?
Although McGinley played a vital role in the series, he is known for his roles as Jefferson D’Arcy on the television sitcom, Married with Children, Charles Shanowski on the ABC sitcom Hope & Faith, and the role of Villain Stan Gable in the movie, Revenge of the Nerds.
Some of his television roles feature dark character traits like in the 1998 movie, Every Mother’s Worst Fear, where he played Mitch Carson, a sexual predator who lures, captures, and tortures a teenage girl. McGinley also voiced Aquaman in the TV show, Beware the Batman. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons.
Julie McCoy- Patricia Klaus
After Lauren Tewes was removed from the sitcom because of her highly publicized long-standing battle with cocaine, she was replaced by Patricia Klaus, who was playing Julie McCoy’s younger sister, Judy McCoy. Patricia played the role for seasons 8 to 9. Klaus was born on October 19, 1948, in Hutchinson, Kansas.
She began her career as a model in the 1970s, and in 1978, she got a role in the CBS prime-time comedy-drama Flying High. After the series failed, she was offered the role of Fran Linhart in the ABC-TV comedy Aloha Paradise. Klaus got married and divorced thrice from 1968 through 1986, with a child from her first marriage.
Passengers Paid Thousands of Dollars to be Onboard Ship while Filming
The sitcom needed passengers when scenes were shot on the Pacific Princess to make the show look authentic. Passengers booked real cruises, and where needed, they played extra sets. The extras would get a raffle ticket each at the end of each day they filmed.
Because loitering was not allowed and they wanted a part in the series, fans would buy tickets and sail alongside the crew. According to an article in People, the “Love Boat” went to Hong Kong in season 7, and tourists paid as much as $3 370 to $8,550 to get on board.
Only Three Actors Appeared in Every Episode of the Show
The nine seasons of The Love Boat featured many actors and actresses that stayed on for the entire duration and some guest stars who graced the show with their presence. But only three actors out of the thousands were present for the whole of the 250 episodes run.
Gavin Macleod played Captain Merrill Stubing, Bernie Kopell as Doctor Adam Bricker, and Ted Lange as Bartender Isaac Washington. Fred Grandy, who was cast as Yeoman Purser Burl “Gopher” Smith, came close, starring in 246 episodes across the entire length of the show.
The Real Love Boat Became a Notorious Vessel for Smugglers
After the shooting of The Love Boat, the cruise ship that had once housed hours, months, and years of shooting to create one of the best sitcoms of its time found itself in the hands of drug smugglers. In 1998, BBC reported that it had become a major tool for smugglers bent on trafficking drugs around the Mediterranean.
Over 50 pounds of heroin were seized from the Pacific Princess in 1998 and was also impounded in Greece during a cruise, leaving over 600 passengers stranded as officials tried to sort out the whole ordeal. In October 2011, the Crown Court in Southampton, England, imposed an eight-year jail sentence against a Princess Cruises’ bar supervisor who attempted to smuggle cocaine.
It was First a Movie Before it Became a Series.
The Love Boat was turned into three movies before it became a TV show. ABC released three made-for-TV films, The Love Boat in 1976, The Love Boat II in 1977, and The New Love Boat in 1977, to see how the public reacted to it.
The three-part movie saw the cast play out their earlier roles. After the initial water testing and a satisfactory result, The Love Boat officially saw its first episode kick off on September 24, 1977, with nine seasons and a total of 250 episodes.
Two People Performed the Theme Song
The theme song to The Love Boat was written by Paul Williams, who also wrote for The Carpenters, David Bowie, and The Muppets. For the first eight seasons of the show, The Love Boat theme was performed by Jack Jones, an American singer born to actor\singer Allan Jones and actress Irene Hervey.
Season 9’s theme song was sung by Dionne Warwick, an American singer, actress, and Television who ranked among the 40 biggest hitmakers at that time. Jack Jones went on to win two Grammys and, at the age of 83, is still writing and recording materials at Capitol Studios.
Two Men Died Trying to Dismantle the Ship.
After decades of carrying passengers across the world, being the main attraction of the series, The Love Boat, and impounded on several occasions for drug smuggling, the Pacific Princess became too old and costly to renovate. The owners decided it was best to sell it.
However, after many failed attempts, they decided to sell it for scraps to a Turkish company for about $3 million in 2012. It was taken to Turkey the following year, where two men trying to dismantle parts of the cruise liner died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Fashion Designers Turned Down an Invitation to Appear on the Fashion Show Episode.
In February 1981, on their website, People wrote an article titled, “Love Boat Gets Buoyed Up with Some Titanic Egos like Halston, Gloria & Beene.” The appearances of these stars were supposed to add spice to the series and provide free exposure for the designers to an audience of 65 million.
Although Halston later showed up after he was promised a wonderful party in addition to the pay, so did other designers like Vanderbilt, Mackie, and Beene. On the other hand, Ralph Lauren refused to appear, stating it would be bad for his image. As expected, it left producer Doug Cramer steaming. According to him, “We use more Polo clothes on the show more than anything else.”
Charlie’s Angels Made a Crossover with The Love Boat.
While filming The Love Boat was another of Aaron Spelling’s produced series, Charlie’s Angels were in production. The two-part episode, Love Boat Angels, showed the angels going onboard the Pacific Princess to retrieve stolen art pieces on a trip to the Virgin Islands.
Although some fans were confused about whether it was the same boat as the series, they soon realized that it was the cruise liner with appearances of some of The Love Boat characters like Captain Stubing, Julie McCoy, Bartender Isaac Washington, and Bricker making an appearance on the episode.
Where is the Pacific Princess Today?
Unlike today’s ships with more advanced technology, equipment, navigation system, and larger passenger space, the Pacific Princess had staterooms that lacked balconies and could only carry 600 passengers, which a yacht can do. The ship was finally sold for scraps in 2012 when it was too old to go on any more trips.
In 2002, after the original liner was sold, another vessel purchased by Princess Cruises’ was given the honorarium to maintain continuity. The new “Love Boat” vessel retired in April, and ownership was transferred to the Azamara cruise brand, which Sycamore Partners just acquired.
Behind the Scenes Anecdotes
According to author Jim Colucci, “The Love Boat brought exotic locations to American living rooms and a lot of people who couldn’t afford to go or had never gone to those places. In many ways, the show kind of opened our eyes, but what it did was cheer us up from the winter doldrums.”
“… On a Saturday night, you could escape the snow of New Jersey where I was and end up either in Mexico, the Mediterranean, or Australia. It was wonderful, and the people loved it.” As of 2019, Jim was writing the ultimate companion to The Love Boat.
Why was the Love Boat Series Cancelled?
After gracing the screen of millions for nine years and producing a total of 9 seasons, 250, and a few specials, the much-beloved American sitcom “Love Boat” was canceled on February 12, 1990. Despite being ranked in the top 20, 10, and 5 it ratings fell rapidly as the latter seasons progressed.
Other reasons the show ended could be the budget blowing out, many cast members leaving the show, and expenses. Many of the original cast were reunited after the cancellation of a TV movie, The Love Boat; A Valentine Voyage. In 1998, a new series called The Love Boat; The Next Wave featured MacLeod, Kopell, Lange, Tewes, and Wheelan in one episode.