1 9 7 7 – 1 9 8 6 (USA)
250 x 60 minute episodes
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).
Each 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.
Watching the series, you’d think the entire ship was essentially manned by just five people with an inordinate amount of free time on their hands.
In 1979, Jill Whelan joined the regular cast as Stubing’s illegitimate daughter, Vicki. In the 1984-85 season, Lauren Tewes was replaced 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 were state-of-the-art cruise liners. 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.
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, Raymond Burr, Steve Allen, Greer Garson, Don Adams, Jane Wyman 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. Teri Hatcher appeared as Amy, one of the Mermaids.
In the spring of 1986, at the end of the original series run, Captain Stubing romanced and married Emily Heywood. Fred Grandy (Gopher) became 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 – written by Paul Williams and Charles Fox – was sung by Jack Jones (1977 to 1985) and Dionne Warwick (1985 to 1986).
Love . . . Exciting and new
Come aboard, we’re expecting you
Love . . . Life’s sweetest reward
Let it flow, It floats 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
It’s love . . .
Welcome aboard, it’s love
Capt Merrill Stubing
Burl ‘Gopher’ Smith
Dr Adam Bricker
Ashley Covington Evans (Ace)
The Love Boat Mermaids
Deborah Bartlett (“Susie”)
Tori Brenno (“Maria”)
Nanci Lynn Hammond (“Jane”)
Teri Hatcher (“Amy”)
Debra Johnson (“Patti”)
Andrea Moen (“Starlight”)
Beth Myatt (“Mary Beth”)