The Love Boat: Cast List Of The Pacific Princess (Come Aboard, They're Expecting You)

Entertainment | December 2, 2020

Pictured, from left: Fred Grandy (Gopher Smith), Ted Lange (Isaac Washington), Gavin MacLeod (Captain Merrill Stubing), Bernie Kopell (Dr. Adam Bricker), Lauren Tewes (Julie McCoy) , (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Di

The Love Boat was on the air for nearly 10 years, and you don't survive a long cruise like that without a solid cast list. The nucleus, including Captain Stubing, Doc, Gopher, Isaac and Julie, became more than actors or even characters to us -- they really did seem to be expecting us aboard the Pacific Princess every week. After a steady diet of The Love Boat from 1977-87, American cruise-goers might be surprised if their captain didn't look like Gavin MacLeod and there weren't multiple amorous plotlines unfolding every night.

Like many great shows, The Love Boat was based on a book written by Jeraldine Saunders. An actual cruise director, Saunders detailed the many wild and steamy stories she experienced over many years on the high seas. However, prior to “The Love Boat’s” stellar 9-year run, Saunders’s book inspired three made for TV movies. Clearly, people couldn’t get enough ocean infatuations.

Headed by Hollywood heavyweight Aaron Spelling, The Love Boat fielded more crossovers than a railroad system. Most of The Mary Tyler Moore Show cast made appearances on The Love Boat, including Betty White, Ted Knight, Valerie Harper, Cloris Leachman, and Georgia Engel. The show also saw a who’s who of Hollywood cameos. Everyone from Gene Kelly to Tom Hanks made magical mischief on the open ocean. The iconic show, filmed on the Pacific Princess cruise line, lives on today as the theme music for the cruise’s safety video and the tune they play upon leaving port. 

Gavin MacLeod As Captain Merril Stubing

Your Love Boat captain. (looper)

The Mary Tyler Moore standout Gavin MacLeod was told by his agent that The Love Boat script "sucked," but Spelling really wanted him at the helm. Unlike his agent, MacLeod saw plenty of potential in the script and immediately signed up for the feel-good voyage. Perhaps he saw similarities to his other ocean-going big break, McHale’s Navy. MacLeod played one of three characters to appear in every episode of The Love Boat, and enjoyed the experience so much that he became a spokesman for Princess Cruises.

Bernie Kopell as Adam 'Doc' Bricker

Char Fontane, Judy Landers and a dinged-up Bernie Kopell on 'The Love Boat.' Source: IMDB

After Spelling struck out trying to sign Dick Van Patten as Bricker, the role went to his good friend Bernie Kopell. Earlier in Kopell's career, he'd gone from playing primarily Mexican and Puerto Rican characters to a Russian villain on Get Smart. After showing such a wide range, Kopell jumped at the chance to play the Pacific Princess' resident ladykiller. As he saw it, the show offered the chance to travel the world, join a great cast, and meet the rotating cast of Tinsel Town’s finest. There was also the upside of making $39,500 per episode, which works out to nearly $125,000 today. That salary adds up when you appear in every episode. 

Fred Grandy as Burl 'Gopher' Smith

Gopher Fred Grandy with BernNadette Stanis of 'Good Times' fame. Source: IMDB

Grandy may have played a Gopher on the show but his own history doesn’t resemble much of his quirky character. Besides graduating magna cum laude from Harvard, Grandy shared a room with David Eisenhower at Exeter academy. Prior to The Love Boat, his only meaningful screen credit was playing Carol’s boyfriend on Maude. Eventually, he dipped back into politics, becoming a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1987-1995. Upon telling his teevee “Captain” that he was going into politics, MacLeod on the spot became his first political donor. 

Ted Lange As Your Bartender, Isaac Washington

The captain of drinks Ted Lange (thespiritsbusiness)

More than likely, no one had more fun on The Love Boat than Ted Lange. Besides playing the life of the party, Lange got to make out with one of his favorite movie stars, Diahann Carroll. Apparently, it took a minute for the crew to figure out why Lange kept asking for retakes of their smooch. Lange was also the third member of the cast to appear in every episode. Post Love Boat, Lange ended up a love and sex advice columnist for FHM with Jenna Jameson and then with Beth Stern, wife of Howard. He also rarely paid for a drink as bartenders everywhere offered him their signature cocktail in hopes of it making the show. 

Lauren Tewes As Cruise Director Julie McCoy

A young Martin Short with Lauren Tewes on 'The Love Boat.' Source: IMDB

The underdog of the cast, Tewes, had to beat out 100 other women to score the role of Julie McCoy. She was also one of the last to be cast, securing her place the day before the third Love Boat pilot was shot. An appearance on Starsky & Hutch was reportedly what helped seal the deal. While The Love Boat opened many doors for Tewes, it also invited trouble. Like many successful actors in the ‘70s, Tewes made lots of money and also spent much of it on cocaine. Eventually, the power of that white powder became too much and she was let go after too many days of no-shows. Thankfully, she was able to clean up her act and become a chef. 

Jill Whelan As Vicki Stubing

The youngest "Love Boat" member Jill Whelan. (pinterest)

Cast as a precocious 11-year-old, Whelan experienced the whirlwind of a lifetime. From dancing with Ginger Rodgers to exchanging letters with Ethel Merman, Whelan fit the role of an adventurous captain’s daughter to a T. Unfortunately, her real-life husband brought her more issues than a sinking ship. His failed business wiped out her “Love Boat” money and forced to juggle multiple jobs.

She moonlighted as an investigative reporter, an events producer, an associate producer, and a journalist. Whelan also somehow found time to act and work as a cabaret dancer. She was prominently featured in Nancy Regan’s “Just Say No” campaign, which is what she should have said to her husband. 

Ted McGinley As Your Ship's Photographer, Ashley 'Ace' Covington Evans

Maetro of memories Ted McGinley(metv)

McGinley appeared on so many hit shows -- Happy Days, The Love Boat, Dynasty, Married… with Children, and others -- but he wasn’t an original member of any of those iconic casts. As a Johnny-come-lately, McGinley eventually gained a reputation as a show-killer as his appearance coincided with the fall of a few of these shows. Of course, that reputation was far from warranted as he has steadily acted on TV for almost 40 years. 

Patricia Klous As Your (Replacement) Cruise Director Judy McCoy

Replacement Jill, Patricia Klous (hoteltvshow)

Klous was one of the few members of The Love Boat better known for another role. Many might recognize her as Marcy Bower from Flying High. Of course, she was only on The Love Boat for two seasons after Tewes was fired over cocaine problems. While Klous never really hit the big time, she did make appearances on many of your favorite TV shows from Fantasy Island to Murder, She Wrote.

Tags: Cast Lists From Popular TV Shows | The Love Boat

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Kellar Ellsworth


Kellar Ellsworth was born and raised in Hawaii. He is an avid traveler, surfer and lover of NBA basketball. He wishes he could have grown up in the free love era!