10 Fun Facts About The Love Boat

ABC
ABC

For nearly 10 years, TV viewers got to experience a journey aboard a cruise ship nearly every Saturday night as The Love Boat brought the misadventures and romantic escapades of the luxury liner life right into their living rooms. With a roster of memorable characters like Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), "Doc" Bricker (Bernie Kopell), Burl "Gopher" Smith (Fred Grandy), Julie McCoy (Lauren Tewes), and the finger-gun flailing Isaac (Ted Lange), the series was an immediate hit, lasting from 1977 until the spring of 1986. Here are 10 facts you need to know about TV's The Love Boat

1. THE LOVE BOAT FOLLOWS THE LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE ANTHOLOGY FORMULA.

The Love Boat was unique for television at the time in that it was centered around multiple vignettes every week, chronicling the comedic (and romantic) misadventures of an ever-changing group of passengers and the stalwart crew of the ship.

The separate storylines would all have different writers and weave in and out throughout the episode. It wasn’t a typical sitcom, nor was it sketch comedy; it was a style that executive producer Aaron Spelling directly modeled after ABC’s earlier comic hit Love, American Style.

Aimed at an older audience—with an eye on comic hijinks dripping with sexual tension—The Love Boat found an audience instantly, debuting at number 14 on the Nielsen charts and staying strong until the finale.

2. THE SHOW WAS BASED ON A TELL-ALL BOOK BY A REAL CRUISE DIRECTOR.

There’s more reality to The Love Boat than most people would assume. The show was actually based on a book titled Love Boats by Jeraldine Saunders, the first female to become cruise director for Princess Cruises. The 1974 book is a tell-all, revealing anecdotes from Saunders’s decade-long career (at that point) as a cruise director and the various run-ins she had with colorful passengers, crew members, and exotic destinations.

3. IT WAS TURNED INTO THREE TV MOVIES FIRST.

Before The Love Boat became a weekly television show, ABC tested the waters with three made-for-TV movies acting as pilots: The Love Boat (1976), The Love Boat II (1977), and The New Love Boat (1977). The Love Boat II saw the eventual TV cast appear in early versions of their famous roles, including Bernie Kopell, Ted Lange, and Fred Grandy. And The New Love Boat was basically a pilot for what the finalized series was going to be.

After three TV movies and an overhaul of the cast, The Love Boat was ready to officially set sail on September 24, 1977.

4. ROBERT REED AND FLORENCE HENDERSON GUEST STARRED (BUT NOT AS MIKE AND CAROL BRADY).

The Love Boat was a destination for countless celebrity guest stars over the years. Each week, stars from both the big and small screens would make appearances, including Betty White, Joan Collins, Alan Thicke, Gene Kelly, Hulk Hogan, Jeffery Tambor, and Janet Leigh.

The Iron Woman of Love Boat guest stars was none other than Florence Henderson, who boarded the Pacific Princess a staggering nine times, playing various characters. During one of her guest-stints, the boat was also boarded by Robert Reed, who obviously played Mr. Brady on The Brady Bunch. Though the two were in separate vignettes and weren’t playing their former married selves, the show did acknowledge their sitcom past as Henderson briefly sees Reed’s character and the two share a knowing glance.

5. CHARLIE’S ANGELS WERE ONCE ONBOARD FOR A CROSSOVER.

In addition to The Love Boat, Spelling had another project on ABC, Charlie’s Angels, which preceded Love Boat by one year in 1976. So it was only natural to meld the two series—which have as little in common as humanly possible—for a 1979 crossover.

In the two-part episode “Love Boat Angels,” the Angels board the Pacific Princess in order to retrieve stolen pieces of art on a voyage to the Virgin Islands. Though the episode was about the Angels doing their Angel-y thing, The Love Boat favorites like Captain Stubing, Isaac, "Doc" Bricker, and Julie McCoy all made appearances.

6. ONLY THREE ACTORS APPEARED IN EVERY EPISODE OF THE SHOW.

During The Love Boat’s nine years on the air, plenty of the ship’s crew came and went, but three actors were onboard for the series’ entire 250-episode run: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, and Ted Lange. Fred Grandy came close, starring in 246 episodes across the entire length of the show. Lange, Kopell, and MacLeod also starred in the 1990 TV movie The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage and made appearances on Love Boat: The Next Wave.

7. THE SHOW WAS FILMED ON REAL BOATS WITH ACTUAL PASSENGERS.

To shoot The Love Boat you need a boat, right? To make the boat come alive, the production shot on two real cruise ships: The Pacific Princess and Island Princess. Real cruises were booked and actual passengers played extras during certain scenes that required a more authentic look. For the actual people on vacation, filming was just an added bonus, as extras would get a raffle ticket at the end of each day they filmed. The cruises known to double as shooting locales would always sell out.

Filming aboard an actual ship wasn’t the norm, though. Like any sitcom, The Love Boat was mostly shot on soundstages that could create the look of a cabin, dining area, or a ship’s hallways.

8. DIONNE WARWICK SANG THE THEME FOR THE FINAL SEASON.

The Love Boat’s iconic theme was written by Paul Williams—who had written for The Carpenters, David Bowie, and The Muppets—and Charles Fox, the man behind the music for the Wide World of Sports and the first theme for ABC’s Monday Night Football. And for the show’s first eight seasons, The Love Boat theme was performed by Jack Jones until season nine when hit singer Dionne Warwick took over.

Her version closed out the final season of the show, and a completely overhauled version would grace Love Boat: The Next Wave from the late ‘90s.

9. THE REAL LOVE BOAT BECAME A NOTORIOUS VESSEL FOR DRUG SMUGGLERS.

The life of an out-of-work Hollywood icon can be rough, and after The Love Boat went off the air, the Pacific Princess found itself mixed up in the seedy world of narcotics. In 1998, BBC reported that the liner had become “a major tool for smugglers bent on trafficking drugs around the Mediterranean,” and more than 50 pounds of heroin were found aboard in November of that year.

The ship was impounded in Greece during a cruise, stranding the 600 passengers there as the whole ordeal got sorted out.

10. THE PACIFIC PRINCESS WAS BROUGHT TO A SCRAP YARD IN 2013.

When The Love Boat ended, the Pacific Princess—eventually renamed the MS Princess—was still in operation as a functioning luxury liner. In addition to its previously known drug issues, the ship’s final years were spent in a state of constant repairs and unpaid debt. After going through numerous owners and financial maladies, the MS Princess was eventually sent to a Turkish scrap yard in 2013.

Before it went to scrap, the ship was already decommissioned, and getting it back into proper shape would have been senseless from a financial standpoint, according to Ersin Ceviker of the Ship Recyclers' Association of Turkey. During its trip to the Aliaga port in Turkey, the ship began taking on water and required additional tugboats to bring it to its final destination.

'143,' Fred Rogers's Code for "I Love You," Gets Its Own Holiday in Pennsylvania

Family Communications Inc./Getty Images
Family Communications Inc./Getty Images

"It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three."

That quote from Fred Rogers has become a symbol of the children's entertainer's legacy. The number 143, his special code for "I love you," is used by a charity inspired by Rogers, and it was spotlighted in the recent documentary movie Won't You Be My Neighbor? Now, Mister Rogers's favorite number has its own holiday in Pennsylvania.

As Philly Voice reports, Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf declared May 23 to be 143 Day in the state. Rogers was born in Westmoreland County near Pittsburgh and he spent his whole life in the area. By honoring the famous Pennsylvanian with his own holiday, the organizers behind the statewide 143 Day campaign hope to inspire residents to be kind to their neighbors on May 23 and every day of the year.

The initiative encourages schools, businesses, and citizens to share their acts of kindness on social media with the hashtag #143DayinPA. A "kindness tracker" on the campaign's website keeps how many time the hashtag has been used, and so far, over a 6000 acts of kindness have been shared online. And if someone has trouble thinking of ways to honor the spirit of Mister Rogers, the campaign's "kindness generator" can come up with a suggestion for them.

One hundred and forty-three was more than just a fun saying for Fred Rogers: It was a lucky number he made part of his lifestyle. The television personality even went so far as to go swimming every day to maintain his weight at the number.

[h/t Philly Voice]

10 Bizarre Documentaries That Are Stranger Than Fiction

A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
A still from Abducted in Plain Sight
Top Knot Films

Documentaries have grown considerably more ambitious since Fred Ott’s Sneeze, an 1894 clip that documents the irritated sinus cavities of its subject in just five seconds. They can inspire, as in the case of 2019’s Academy Award-winning Free Solo, about bold mountain climber Alex Honnold. They can shine a light on cultural overachievers like Fred Rogers, the subject of 2018’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? And they can parse political history, with films like 2003's The Fog of War shedding light on decisions that shaped the world.

Other documentaries set out to chronicle true stories that, were they presented as a fictitious, might be hard for people to believe. We’ve profiled such films in previous lists, which you can find here, here, and here. If you’ve already made your way through those tales of cannibals, tragic love affairs, and twist-laden true crime, here are 10 more that will have you staring at your television in disbelief.  

1. Abducted in Plain Sight (2017)

When Idaho native Jan Broberg was 12 years old in 1974, her neighbor began to take an unseemly and inappropriate interest in her. What begins as a disturbing portrait of predation quickly spirals into an unbelievable and audacious attempt to manipulate Jan’s entire family. Director Skye Borgman’s portrait of seemingly reasonable people who become ensnared in a monstrous plot to separate them from their daughter has drawn some shocking reactions since it began streaming on Netflix earlier this year.

2. The Wolfpack (2015)

Confined to their apartment in a Manhattan housing project for years by parents wary of the world outside their door, the seven Angulo siblings developed an understanding about life through movies. The Wolfpack depicts their attempts to cope with reality after finally emerging from their involuntary exile. Hulu subscribers can watch it now.

3. Three Identical Strangers (2018)

The highly marketable conceit of director Tim Wardle’s documentary is that triplets born in 1961 then separated spent the first 18 years of their lives totally ignorant of their siblings. When they reconnect, it’s a joy. But the movie quickly switches gears to explore the question of why they were separated at birth to begin with. It’s that investigation—and the chilling answer—that lends Three Identical Strangers its bittersweet, haunting atmosphere. It’s currently on Hulu.

4. Tickled (2016)

A ball of yarn bouncing down a flight of stairs is the best metaphor we can summon for the narrative of Tickled, which follows New Zealand journalist David Farrier on what appears at first glance to be a silly story about the world of “competitive endurance tickling.” In the course of reporting on this unusual subculture, Farrier crosses paths with people who would prefer their hobbies remain discreet. When he refuses to let the story go, things grow increasingly tense and dangerous. HBO subscribers can see the film, and it’s also available as a $3.99 rental on Amazon Prime.

5. Billboard Boys (2018)

In 1982, an Allentown, Pennsylvania radio station sponsored a contest in which three men agreed to live underneath a billboard. The last man remaining would win a brand-new motor home, a considerable incentive in the economically-struggling area. Three contestants went up, but things didn't go as planned. It's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

6. Hands on a Hardbody: The Documentary (1997)

How far would you be willing to go for a new pick-up truck? That’s the deceptively simple premise for this documentary chronicling an endurance contest in Longview, Texas, where participants agree to keep one hand on the vehicle at all times: The last person standing wins. What begins as a group seeking a prize evolves into a battle of attrition, with all the psychological games and mental fortitude that comes with it. The film can be hard to find, but you can watch the first nine minutes on YouTube for free (above) and then catch the rest for $9.99 on iTunes.

7. My Kid Could Paint That (2007)

At the age of 4, upstate New York resident Marla Olmstead began painting sprawling abstract art that her parents sold for premium prices. Later on, a 60 Minutes report called into question whether Marla had some assistance with her work. Was she a child prodigy, or simply a creative girl who had a little help? And if she did, should it matter? My Kid Could Paint That investigates Marla’s process, but it also sheds light on the world of abstract art and the question of who gets to decide whether a creative impulse is valid. You can rent the film for $3.99 on Amazon.

8. Beware the Slenderman (2016)

In 2014, two Wisconsin girls came to a disturbing decision: In order to appease the “Slenderman,” an internet-sourced boogeyman, they would attempt to murder a classmate. The victim survived, but three lives have been altered forever. Beware the Slenderman explores the intersection where mental illness, social media, and urban mythology collide to result in a horrific crime. It’s available to HBO viewers or as a rental on Amazon for $3.99.

9. The Iceman Tapes: Conversations with a Killer (1992)

For years, Richard Kuklinski satisfied his homicidal urges by taking on contract killings for organized crime families in New York and New Jersey. Following his arrest and conviction, he agreed to sit down and elaborate on his unusual methodologies for disposing of victims and how he balanced his violent tendencies with a seemingly normal domestic life that included marriage and children. (You can see an example of Kuklinski's chilling disposition in the clip above.) In addition to The Iceman Tapes, which originally aired on HBO, Kuklinski participated in two follow-ups: The Iceman Confesses: Secrets of a Mafia Hitman in 2001 and The Iceman and the Psychiatrist in 2003. See them on HBO or watch the original and both follow-ups for free on Amazon Prime.

10. Tabloid (2010)

Filmmaker Errol Morris (The Fog of War) details the unusual love affair between beauty queen Joyce McKinney and Kirk Anderson, who alleged McKinney kidnapped and assaulted him after believing he had been brainwashed by the Mormon church. That’s only the beginning of this twisty—and twisted—story, which illustrates how people can perceive the same event in completely different ways. It’s currently streaming on Hulu.

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