Any show that runs for more than a few years often sees changes in its cast. People leave, get fired, take other job opportunities, etc., forcing producers to replace actors. Throughout its incredible nine-season run, “The Love Boat” featured thousands of actors, guest stars, and cameos, but there were three actors who appeared in every single episode of the show until the very end.
These actors were Bernie Kopell, Gavin MacLeod, and Ted Lange, who appeared in all 250 episodes of the show. Fred Grandy, who played Gopher the purser, was almost in every episode, aside from the last four of the TV films.
They Gave Isaac an Interesting Backstory
Trying to stay true to the story, “The Love Boat” producers had to make an addition to Isaac Washington’s backstory. The charming and trusty bartender for the entirety of the show, Isaac was also always seen among the crew members who would greet passengers when they were boarding the ship.
However, after some research, the show producers found out that the only crew members allowed to greet passengers while boarding were ranked maritime officers, and being a bartender made Washington a civilian employee. So, producers thought of a back story – Isaac had been given an honorary rank after saving some passengers’ lives during a shipboard emergency.
The Show’s Extras Were Actual Passengers
When it wasn’t filmed in its California studio location, “The Love Boat” was shot on the Pacific Princess or the Island Princess. However, since the cruise ship company couldn’t afford to not schedule actual cruise voyages during that time, this meant that many of the extras on the show were actual passengers enjoying their vacation.
Of course, once this became known, these cruise ships would sell out in a matter of minutes. Everybody wants a chance to appear in, or at least see, their favorite show being filmed. People would often pay extravagant amounts to board one of these liners.
The Boat’s Trip to China Was a Disaster
In June of 1983, the cast and crew of “The Love Boat” sailed on the Pearl of Scandinavia on a two-week trip to China, Japan, and Hong Kong to film the three first episodes of season seven. According to future interviews with “People Magazine,” the trip was an economic disaster. The whole endeavor cost over $12 million, which for 1983 was an unheard-of sum of money.
Not only did the trip take months to plan and cost a big chunk of the show’s budget, but it somehow sent the cast members into a fighting frenzy. According to one of the producers, Doug Cramer, the cast was incredibly hostile throughout the entire trip, getting into loud arguments about the tiniest detail. What’s worse, they made the actual passengers who had paid money for their Easter Asian cruise voyage have a terrible time!
A Celebration of Old Movie Stars
Aaron Spelling was known for using a unique formula for his TV shows, mainly consisting of having a small, regular cast that would serve as the base of the series while featuring different guest stars on every episode. It was a winning formula that had found massive success on Spelling’s other show, “Fantasy Island.”
Spelling wanted to celebrate Hollywood’s Golden Age, which he was a devoted fan of, and so cast legendary actresses like Ginger Roberts, Lana Turner, and Olivia de Havilland in “The Love Boat.” In his memoir, Spelling explained his decisions - "The studios weren't banging their doors down with offers, but these actors and actresses still had lots of talent, and I was happy to provide an outlet.”