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Love Boat, The

1 9 7 7 – 1 9 8 6 (USA)

The Love Boat has been described as a show which doesn’t star anybody particularly famous but which guest stars everyone under the sun . . .

Based on Jeraldine Saunders’ novel (relating her experiences as a cruise hostess), The Love Boat consisted of short, comic sketches dealing with love of all types, young and old, married and unmarried (in the same style as Love American Style).

loveboat8Each story was interwoven with the next and almost always involved the ship’s crew in some form or another. Gavin MacLeod played the ship’s skipper, Captain Merrill Stubing; Bernie Kopell played the ship’s physician, Dr Adam Bricker; Fred Grandy played assistant purser, Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith; Ted Lange played bartender Isaac Washington; and Lauren Tewes played the ship’s social director, Julie McCoy.

In 1979, Jill Whelan joined the regular cast as Stubing’s illegitimate daughter, Vicki. Lauren Tewes was replaced in the 1984-85 season by Pat Klous, who came aboard as new social director Judy McCoy. Ted McGinley also joined the cast as ship’s photographer, Ashley ‘Ace’ Covington Evans.

The series was filmed in Hollywood and on two ships from Princess Cruise Lines, the Pacific Princess and the Island Princess, which at the time were state-of-the-art cruise liners, and there is no doubt that this show was a major factor in making cruising popular for a whole new generation.

Most of the episodes were filmed during regular voyages on these ships from the Virgin Islands and Alaska and paying passengers were invited to participate as extras.

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Most passengers were delighted to take part, and cruises on which filming was planned were always booked solid long in advance.

Famous movie and TV stars of the past and present were always a part of the floating soundstage, combining work with travel to exotic locations. Among the many famous names were: Dick VanPatten, Steve Allen, Greer Garson, Don Adams and Helen Hayes.

Latino singer Charo had a recurring role of singer-guitarist April Lopez. Arguably the strangest episode of The Love Boat was the one where Juan Epstein (from Welcome Back Kotter) and Marcia Brady have a shipboard romance!

Voyages to more exotic locations took place in later seasons – Australia in 1981, the Mediterranean in 1982 and China in 1983.

In 1982, a shipboard musical extravaganza featuring the regular cast plus guest appearances by Cab Calloway, Carol Channing, Ethel Merman, Della Reese, Van Johnson and Ann Miller became known as the “Love Boat Follies”.

Many changes were made in the fall of 1985 in an attempt to revive the sagging series.

A group of eight dancers (called The Love Boat Mermaids) were added to the cast, appearing in a weekly musical number and working in the casino that had been added to the Pacific Princess.

In the spring of 1986, at the end of the original series run, Captain Stubing romanced and married Emily Heywood. Fred Grandy (Gopher) went on to become a US Congressman, representing Iowa from 1987 to 1995.

More than a decade after the original Love Boat went off the air, Aaron Spelling tried to parlay its success into another nautical series starring Robert Urich as Captain Jim Kennedy in The Love Boat: The Next Wave (1998 – 1999).

Though several original cast members guest-starred on a reunion episode, the only holdover from the original was the boat itself. Alas, it only stayed afloat for two seasons.

Although several original cast members guest-starred on a reunion episode, the only holdover from the original was the boat itself. Alas, it only stayed afloat for two seasons.

The popular theme song was sung by Jack Jones.

Love . . .
Exciting and new
Come aboard
We’re expecting you

Love . . .
Life’s sweetest reward
Let it flow
It flows back to you

The Love Boat
soon will be making another run
The Love Boat
promises something for everyone

Set a course for adventure
Your mind on a new romance

And love won’t hurt anymore
It’s an open smile on a friendly shore

Yes love – It’s love
It’s the Love Boat
It’s the Love Boat

Capt Merrill Stubing 
Gavin MacLeod
Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith
Fred Grandy
Dr Adam Bricker 

Bernie Kopell
Isaac Washington 

Ted Lange
Julie McCoy 

Lauren Tewes
Vicki Stubing 

Jill Whelan
April Lopez 

Judy McCoy 

Pat Klous
Ashley Covington Evans (Ace) 

Ted McGinley
Emily Heywood 

Marion Ross