[hr]Who could forget the 70s most-lovable series The Love Boat? Julie McCoy, ‘Your Cruise Director’, caught up with The Retiree writer Holly Richardson while cruising down under aboard The Sea Princess.[hr]
It was in the 70s when we first met the cast of The Love Boat. The decade that brought us 50’s sitcom Happy Days, suspender-wearing aliens in Mork and Mindy and superheroes Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk and Spider Man, also brought us this hilarious sitcom, where unlikely love connections occurred with alarming frequency aboard a cruise ship.
Bringing it back to life recently was The Love Boat lead actress Lauren Tewes who celebrated her 60th birthday on the top deck of The Sea Princess in Brisbane.
The last time The Love Boat cruise director was in Australia she almost got married. “It was just one of Julie’s many failed love interests on the show!” Tewes told The Retiree.
Attending her birthday celebration were 60 die hard Queensland who won the chance to meet her after their names were plucked from thousands of entrants.
Tewes had made her acting debut in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Pacific Conservatory Theatre in California. However she is best known for playing the beautiful blonde cruise director, and was chosen for the role over 100 other actresses.
Over 30 years later, the still ever-effervescent Tewes, was overwhelmed as The Love Boat’s captain Merrill Stubing, actor Gavin MacLeod, appeared on the big screen to deliver her a surprise birthday message.
“Lauren you will always be Julie McCoy to me,” he said. “We’ve had some amazing experiences together, you and I, filming The Love Boat. When we started in the 70s who would have imagined it’d become the phenomenon that it is today!
“The Love Boat introduced millions of viewers to the concept of sea going vacations and is credited with the growth and success of cruising today.
“We were so lucky to work with some of the big names in Hollywood.” MacLeod spoke of many of these, including Tom Hanks, Betty White and Andy Warhol.
Tewes told The Retiree, as the celebrations went loudly on around her, “I’m just so lucky because it’s been 35 years since the show started and people still remember us with such love and fondness. They think of us as family and that’s a pretty magical thing. I haven’t been to Australia since 1981 and I’ve always wanted to come back.”
During the day Tewes posed with fans, signed memorabilia some had held onto for more than 30 years, and reminisced about the show’s golden days. The spirit of The Love Boat was well and truly alive, even if it was just for a day.
For its first seven years, The Love Boat was extremely successful in the ratings. During that time it ranked among the top 20, and occasionally the top 10, most popular shows on television. For the 1980–81 season, it posted its highest rating at number 5.
“So, there were actually two other cruise directors and two other captains before us!” She laughed at the memory. “Luckily we had the right chemistry, as soon as our pilot aired, it soared in popularity”.
If you watched the show you may remember how unique The Love Boat was in its format. Each episode contained several simultaneous storylines, each one written by a different set of writers. Each set of writers worked with a different group of guest stars and with new stories each week.
As a result of this, episodes ended up with humorous titles like “Disco Baby/Alas, Poor Dwyer/After the War/Ticket to Ride/Itsy Bitsy: Part 1”. This also led to notorious continuity errors, most notably in Julie’s outfits during boarding and disembarkation. All of which everyone involved, and fans alike, laugh about now. “We couldn’t have cared less! It was just so much fun…,” reflected a proud fan.
[hr] “The Love Boat introduced millions of viewers to the concept of sea going vacations and is credited with the growth and success of cruising today.” Gavin MacLeod [hr]
In 1981, Princess Cruises’ Sea Princess was used for the special two-hour episode ‘Julie’s Wedding’, set in and around Australia, and guest-starring Lloyd Bridges, Katherine Helmond, Harry Morgan, Patrick Duffy and Anthony Andrews, among others.
“Many didn’t realise that most of the series was actually filmed on a set. The whole pool deck was built to size on land, including the cabins, dining room, lobby, various passageways, and even a gangway, so it was an impressive set up.
“If I ever got the chance to film aboard the Sea Princess I relished it!
“It was an expensive proposition though to take a whole crew to sea, luckily we did more of it as the series gained popularity.”[hr]
“I’d love to work in Australia. I’m absolutely available for roles here.” Lauren Tewes[hr]
In private, Tewes told The Retiree about her personal pain and inward journey since losing her husband, Robert Nadir, in 2002. “We met doing a play in Arizona, he was a very talented actor, a year after we were married he was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), I cared for him for the next four years until he passed away.
“He was a brilliant man with a massive brain. It is so incredibly sad that he is gone.
“I just couldn’t bring myself to be emotionally available for acting anymore,” she said. “So, I decided to grieve on my feet and go to culinary school.” Bravely, Tewes took herself to back to college at the age of 49 and turned 50 while there.
Following this she enjoyed a career out of the limelight as a cheese expert for four years, before becoming a sous chef.
When asked if she would ever return to the screen, “Oh yes!” came the exclamation. “I’m ready now to act again. I’ve been doing a few plays. In fact, I’d love to work in Australia. I’m absolutely available for roles here, it is always nice to get away from the States for a while.”
So you never know – we may not have seen the last of this sassy cruise director yet![hr]
Where are they now?
If you have ever wondered what The Love Boat cast has been up to, well Tewes assures us they have all been busy. “Gavin MacLeod has written a book called ‘This Is Your Captain Speaking’ released October 22nd 2013.
“He also does musicals, often in stage shows singing and dancing.” They have never been on stage together but it is something she said she wouldn’t rule out.
Jill Whelan, who played Vicki Stubing, the captain’s daughter, now has two children and a radio show in Los Angeles.
Fred Grandy, who played Burl “Gopher” Smith, became a Congressman for Iowa for two terms and then became President of Goodwill Industries, a large US charity organisation. He now has a political radio show in Washington DC, while still indulging in the occasional acting role.
Bernie Kopell, ‘Your Ship’s [womanising] Doctor’, has been married happily for many years with two children. He still acts on stage, and has an irrepressible passion for tennis.
Ted Lange, who played Isaac Washington ‘Your Bartender’, is now a playwright and a director, while still acting on TV and stage.
“He is a dear friend of mine,” says Tewes, “in fact we acted together in a movie but I don’t know if it will ever be released! We are still waiting to hear the fate of that one.”
Why fly when you can cruise?
The Sea Princess’s celebrations mark a turning point in cruise culture in Australia. Short cruises – one to five days – have become extremely popular. Princess Cruises has announced an increase in short trip cruises planned for 2014 and beyond.
Tewes told The Retiree; “Brisbane is set to be a big port of call for Australians with trips going both south to Sydney and north past Cairns becoming more frequent. “It makes sense, I mean why would you fly if you could cruise?!
“What I have found exciting about cruising these days is the variety of ages of passengers. “Back in the day it was always 50 years and up, now almost half of the people that cruise in Australia are under 40, which is a whole new demographic and makes for diverse atmosphere for all aboard.
“And yet there is still always a place to be alone, to find some peace and quiet. Or you can be with the crowd if you want to be.”
Princess Cruises now offers a variety of short getaway cruises leaving from ports across Australia. Passengers can sample the Princess experience of fine international dining and world-class entertainment aboard comfortably elegant ships. And, these cruises are perfect for celebrations such as a birthday, anniversary, reunion or girlfriends getaway.[related_ad category=”998″ max_size=”3″ title=”Related Offers”] [related_ad category=”8″ max_size=”3″ title=”Related Stories”]