The Love Boat
was closely patterned after ABC’s hit series, Love, American Style, which
ran from 1969 to 1974. Both programs consisted each week of several short comic
sketches dealing with love of all types, young and old, married an unmarried,
and both featured guest stars in the sketches. The difference was that all of
Love Boat’s stories were set aboard the Pacific Princess, a luxury
cruise ship which embarked each week on a romantic, sentimental, and often
hilarious voyage across tropic seas. The three or four stories told on each
telecast were thus interwoven and often involved the ship's crew, who were seen
on the show every week.
and TV stars of the past and present were delighted to accept guest roles on
The Love Boat’s floating soundstage, combining work with travel to exotic
locations. Among the many famous names appearing were Raymond Burr, Pearl
Bailey, Steve Allen, Janet Gaynor, Greer Garson, Jane Wyman, Don Adams, Helen
Hayes, Mildred Natwick, Dick Van Patten, and Charo (in the recurring role of
singer-guitarist April Lopez). Some stories revolved around the crew, with Capt.
Stubing's womanizing brother Marshall (played by MacLeod wearing a toupée)
showing up on occasion, and Vicki, Stubing's 12-year-old daughter by a past
girlfriend, becoming a regular cast member in 1979.
Love Boat’s episodes were filmed on two real cruise ships, the Pacific
Princess and the Island Princess, during their regular voyages from
the Virgin Islands to Alaska. Paying passengers were invited to participate as
extras, getting a raffle ticket for each day they "worked". Most passengers were
delighted to take part, and cruises on which filming was planned were always
booked solid long in advance.
highlights of later seasons were voyages to ever more exotic location –
Australia in 1981, the Mediterranean in 1982, and China in 1983. February 1982
saw the first “Love Boat Follies,” a shipboard musical extravaganza featuring
the regular cast plus Cab Calloway, Carol Channing, Van Johnson, Ethel Merman,
Ann Miller, and Della Reese.
A number of
changes were made in the fall of 1985, in an attempt to buoy the slowly sinking
series. In addition to a new time period and a new theme singer, a group of
eight beautiful singer/dancers (The Love Boat Mermaids) were added to the crew,
appearing in a weekly musical number and working in the casino that had been
added to The Pacific Princess. It didn’t help. In the spring of 1986, at
the end of the original series run, Capt. Stubing romanced and married Emily
Heywood, played by Marion Ross. (A number of new two-hour Love Boat
specials were aired during the following season.)
was based on Jeraldine Saunders’s novel The Love Boats (drawn from her
experiences as a cruise hostess), and first aired as a series of specials during
the 1976-1977 season. ABC aired reruns of The Love Boat on weekday mornings from
June 1980 to June 1983.