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.

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

13 Facts About Miller's Crossing On Its 30th Anniversary

Gabriel Byrne and John Turturro in Joel and Ethan Coen's Miller's Crossing (1990).
Gabriel Byrne and John Turturro in Joel and Ethan Coen's Miller's Crossing (1990).
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

In 1990 Joel and Ethan Coen were not yet the Oscar-winning, cinephile-worshipped filmmaking legends they are today. They had only written and directed two films: 1984’s inventive neo-noir Blood Simple and 1987’s screwball kidnapping comedy Raising Arizona. Though the brothers had drawn critical acclaim for both, they hadn’t yet proven themselves as the true cinematic chameleons we know them as now.

With Miller’s Crossing, an intricate gangster drama that contrasts fedoras and overcoats with the serenity of the forest, the Coens proved they were capable of even more than their brilliant first two efforts suggested. Though it was critically acclaimed, Miller’s Crossing was lost to most audiences in the mire of that year’s other gangster pictures (most notably Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, which was released just two weeks ahead of Miller’s Crossing) and as such is one of the lesser-known entries in the Coens’s filmography. In honor of its 30th anniversary, we dug up some fascinating facts in the hope of changing that.

1. Miller's Crossing was inspired by a single contrasting image.

One of the most memorable shots in Miller’s Crossing features a hat belonging to Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne's character) floating through the forest on a breeze. It’s more than a pretty shot; it’s an indicator of the deliberate contrast that inspired the film. The Coen brothers noted that the film was conceived based on the idea of “the incongruity of urban gangsters in a forest setting.”

2. The Coen brothers turned down Batman to make Miller's Crossing.

After Raising Arizona’s success established the Coens as more than one-hit indie film wonders, the brothers had some options with regard to what project they could tackle next. Reportedly, their success meant that they were among the filmmakers being considered to make Batman for Warner Bros. Of course, the Coens ultimately decided to go the less commercial route, and Tim Burton ended up telling the story of The Dark Knight on the big screen.

3. Miller's Crossing was the final film the Coens made with Barry Sonnenfeld.

Barry Sonnenfeld became a very sought-after cinematographer throughout the 1980s, in part because of his collaborations with the Coens. Their directorial debut, Blood Simple, was his first feature film as a director of photography, and he went on to shoot both Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing for them. The year after Miller’s Crossing was released, Sonnenfeld made his directorial debut with The Addams Family, and went on to direct further hits like Men In Black and Get Shorty.

4. Miller's Crossing was the Coens's first collaboration with Steve Buscemi.

Steve Buscemi in Miller's Crossing (1990).20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Throughout their careers, the Coens have developed a very prestigious company of actors who frequently appear in their films, and Steve Buscemi is among the most prolific. He has appeared in six Coen films, most famously Fargo (1996) and The Big Lebowski (1998). The collaboration started here, when Buscemi was cast as Mink, apparently because he was able to speak faster than anyone else, and fast-talking was crucial to the role.

5. Miller's Crossing was also the Coens's first movie with John Turturro.

When John Turturro was cast as Bernie Bernbaum, the bookie who ignites the mob war at the center of Miller's Crossing, it marked the beginning of a fruitful four-film collaboration with the Coens. They wrote the title role of their next film, 1991’s Barton Fink, specifically for Turturro (who won the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Actor Award for his performance). Of the brothers’s working relationship with Turturro, Ethan Coen once said: “It’s beyond shorthand. We don’t even talk to him!”

6. Miller's Crossing is one of the few Coen brothers movies (so far) not edited by Roderick Jaynes.

To date, the Coen brothers have written and directed 18 feature films, and 15 of them have been either edited or co-edited by Roderick Jaynes. That level of deep collaboration would make Jaynes the Coens’s most frequent collaborator ever … if he were a real person. Jaynes is actually a pseudonym used when the Coens edit their own movies.

7. A sudden death led to Albert Finney being cast as Leo O'Bannon in Miller's Crossing.

As Irish mob boss Leo O’Bannon, Albert Finney is at the center of some of the film’s best scenes—and he’s fantastic in them. Sadly, though, he’s only in the film because another actor died tragically before filming began. The Coens originally cast American actor Trey Wilson, whom they had worked with on Raising Arizona, as Leo. But when Wilson died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 40, the part went to Finney instead.

8. Peter Stormare was supposed to play a mob enforcer in Miller's Crossing.

The Coens’ original plan for Miller’s Crossing involved Peter Stormare playing a character called “The Swede,” who would be the trusted enforcer of Italian mob boss Johnny Caspar (Jon Polito). A commitment to a theatrical production in Sweden meant that Stormare had to turn down the role, though, so the part was rewritten as “The Dane” and played by J.E. Freeman. Stormare ultimately got to work with the Coens six years later on Fargo, and again two years after that on The Big Lebowski.

9. Gabriel Byrne had to convince the Coens to let him keep his Irish accent in Miller's Crossing.

Gabriel Byrne in Miller's Crossing (1990).20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Though he was an Irish native playing a lieutenant to an Irish mobster, the Coens did not originally want Gabriel Byrne to use his own accent in the film. Byrne argued that his dialogue was structured in such a way that it was a good fit for his accent, and after he tried it, the Coens agreed. Ultimately, both Byrne and Finney used Irish accents in the film.

10. Marcia Gay Harden faced some stiff competition for her role in Miller's Crossing.

As Verna Bernbaum, whose relationships with both Leo and Tom ignite some of the film’s key tensions, Marcia Gay Harden delivered one of the best performances of her career, but it wasn’t an easy role to get. She reportedly competed for the role against the likes of Julia Roberts, Demi Moore, and Jennifer Jason Leigh.

11. Jon Polito had to convince the Coens to cast him in a different role in Miller's Crossing.

Jon Polito in Miller's Crossing (1990).20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

When Polito read the Miller’s Crossing script, he loved it and immediately wanted to audition for the role of Johnny Caspar. The Coens had different ideas, and were considering the 39-year-old actor for the role of Caspar’s enforcer, Eddie Dane, instead. The role of Caspar was originally supposed to go to an actor in his mid-50s, but Polito was adamant.

“Anyway, I said I won’t read for anything but Johnny Caspar,” Polito, who passed away in 206, told The A.V. Club. “’And tell them that they’re gonna have to come back to me cause I’m gonna play Johnny.’”

The Coens ultimately gave in, and Polito was cast. They must have liked what they saw, too, because they ended up casting him in four more films after that.

12. A snag in the Miller's Crossing script ultimately led to Barton Fink.

Miller’s Crossing is a complicated beast, full of characters double-crossing each other and scheming for mob supremacy. In fact, it’s so complicated that at one point during the writing process the Coens had to take a break. It turned out to be a productive one: While Miller’s Crossing was on pause, the brothers wrote the screenplay for Barton Fink, the story of a writer who can’t finish a script.

13. Miller's Crossing features several cameos from regular Coen collaborators.

The Coens frequently include cameos from actors and friends in their films, and Miller’s Crossing is particularly full of them. Frances McDormand, who is married to Joel Coen and has appeared in several of their films to date (including Fargo, for which she won an Oscar), plays the mayor’s secretary in one scene. In another, Sam Raimi—a Coen friend and collaborator (the Coens wrote 1985’s Crimewave with Raimi, which Raimi directed, and Raimi later co-wrote The Hudsucker Proxy with the brothers—appears as a crooked cop in a shootout scene. Albert Finney already had a prominent role as Leo, but he enjoyed making the movie so much that he stuck around after his scenes were completed and showed up in drag in a ladies’ room scene. (He’s the “woman” in black on the right side of the screen.)

This story has been updated for 2020.