Get Ready to Set Sail on ‘The Love Boat’ For a Behind the Scenes Look at Romance On the High Seas

CBS may have owned Saturday nights in the first half of the 1970s with series like All in the Family, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Carol Burnett Show, but ABC took the crown in the latter half of the decade with the one-two punch of The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. And that’s especially true when it comes to The Love Boat, which took viewers on romantic cruises to domestic and foreign destinations between 1977 and 1986.

The Love Boat brought those locations to American living rooms and a lot of people who couldn’t afford to go to or had never been to these places,” observes Jim Colucci, author of Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai and who is currently writing the ultimate companion to The Love Boat. “In a lot of ways, the show really kind of opened our eyes, but what it really did was to 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 or the Mediterranean or Australia. It was wonderful and people loved it.”

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Aaron Spelling/Love Boat/Kobal/Shutterstock

The show, which is currently airing on the MeTV Network, is set aboard the luxury passenger cruise ship S.S. Pacific Princess, brought together a regular cast consisting of Captain Merrill Stubing (Gavin MacLeod, fresh off of The Mary Tyler Moore Show), Bernie Kopell (Siegfried from Get Smart!) as Dr. Adam “Doc” Bricker, Ted Lange as bartender Isaac Washington, Fred Grandy as Burl “Gopher” Smith, the yeoman purser; Lauren Tewes as cruise director Julie McCoy, Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the captain’s daughter; Ted McGinley as ship photographer Ashley “Ace” Covington Evans; and Pat Klous as Judy McCoy, Julie’s sister and eventual replacement.  And they would be joined by celebrity guest stars from different era who would interact with the crew, but be involved primarily in their own stories (usually three per episode).

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Bei/Shutterstock

Given the nature of the show, Jim sensed he had his work cut out for him in telling its story, a point made evident by the fact he’s already interviewed over 200 people and is still going strong. “I knew doing a book about a sitcom would be like doing a 500-piece puzzle,” he says, “and doing a book about The Love Boat is like a 5,000-piece puzzle, because the stories are so much more finely scattered among many more people and you don’t know who has a story until you’ve got them on the phone. So it’s been a treasure hunt.”

And to go on that treasure hunt, please scroll down.

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