The Love Boat (ABC 1977-1986 with Gavin MacLeod and Bernie Kopell)

“Love, exciting and new…
Come aboard, we’re expecting you…”

These lyrics, intoned in a Vegas-smooth style by Jack Jones, ushered millions of viewers into the larger-than-life world of The Love Boat every week. Most critics derided the show as sappy nonsense, but audiences responded to show’s mixture of romance, glitz and exotic locales to make it a long-running hit.

The show was adapted from The Love Boats, a novel written by former cruise hostess Jeraldine Saunders. The format was tested out in a pair of two-hour made-for-television films. Both did well, prompting ABC to have executive producers Aaron Spelling and Douglas S. Cramer create a one-hour series for 1977-78 season.

The show took place aboard a luxury cruise ship called “The Pacific Princess” and featured a plotline reminiscent of Love, American Style. Every week, various people (played by a new crop of guest stars each week, including everyone from Charo to Andy Warhol) would take a cruise on the ship to various ports of call as they either dealt with their love life or found new romance. Captain Stubing presided over the ship with a crew that included ship doctor Adam Bricker, assistant purser Gopher Smith, bartender Isaac Washington, and social director Julie McCoy. Vicki, the daughter of Captain Stubing, was added to the show in 1979.

New social director Judy McCoy came aboard in 1984 when Lauren Tewes (Julie) left the show, and Ted McGinley joined the cast the same year as Photographer Ashley Covington “Ace” Evans. Gavin McLeod (Captain Stubing) occasionally played a dual role on the show as Stubing’s lothario brother, Marshall, donning a toupee to complete the illusion.

The show’s depiction of romance may have been a fantasy, but the ship was not: the show was shot on two real cruise ships, “The Pacific Princess” and “The Island Princess,” with real passengers used as extras. There was never a shortage of these extras, each of whom received the added incentive of a raffle ticket for each day they worked on a shoot.

The show’s ratings began to dwindle as time passed, and a number of changes were implemented in the 1985-86 season. Jack Jones’ rendition of the theme song was replaced with a new interpretation by Dionne Warwick, and a group of eight singer/dancer “Mermaids” (including future Adventures of Lois & Clark star Teri Hatcher) were added as on-board entertainment. Perennial bachelor Captain Stubing also was married during this time to a new character, Emily Haywood. Despite the changes, the decline in ratings continued and the Pacific Princess pulled into drydock in the spring of 1986. However, a handful of two-hour Love Boat specials were run during the fall of 1986.

Today, The Love Boat is still a big favorite in reruns and is shown in at least 93 countries. The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage, a two-hour reunion special featuring most of the cast, was telecast in 1990. The show was revived in 1998 with a new cast, including Robert Urich as the captain, asThe Love Boat, The Next Wave.

Release History
9/24/77 – 9/5/86 ABC
 Sub Categories
Aaron Spelling Productions, Inc./Douglas S. Cramer Productions
Captain Merrill Stubing Gavin MacLeod
Doctor Adam Bricker Bernie Kopell
Yeoman-Purser Burl “Gopher” Smith Fred Grandy
Bartender Isaac Washington Ted Lange
Cruise Director Julie McCoy (1977-84) Lauren Tewes
Cruise Director Judy McCoy (1984-86) Pat Klous
Vicki Stubing (1979-84) Jill Whelan
Photographer Ashley “Ace” Covington Evans (1984) Ted McGinley
Emily Stubing (1985-86) Marion Ross
Susie, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Debbie Bartlett
Maria, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Tori Brenno
Sheila, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Macarena Camacho
Jane, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Nanci L. Hammond
Amy, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Teri Hatcher
Patti, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Debra Johnson
Starlight, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Andrea Moen
Mary Beth, Loveboat Mermaid (1985-86) Beth Myatt