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The Love Boat Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

Based on a non-fiction book by former cruise director Jeraldine Saunders, Aaron Spelling's comedy-romance series "The Love Boat" required three maiden voyages before it set sail in primetime waters. 

Two TV-movies — 1976's "The Love Boat" and 1977's "Love Boat II" — aired with different crew members before 1977's "The New Love Boat" introduced the cast that steered audiences to exotic locations and romance for nine seasons: Gavin MacLeod as Captain Merrill Stubing; Bernie Kopell as ship's doctor Adam Bricker, Ted Lange as bartender Isaac Washington; Fred Grandy as yeoman purser Burl "Gopher" Smith; and Lauren Tewes as cruise director Julie McCoy (Jill Whelan, who played Capt. Stubing's daughter, Vicki, joined in Season 3, while future "Married... with Children" alum Ted McGinley joined as ship's photographer Ace Evans in Season 7 and Pat Klous, who replaced Tewes as her sister, Judy, in Season 8).

Though the absurd-but-adorable storylines were key to the show's enduring appeal, its guest cast also added star quality to the show's weekly excursions. Those boarding ranged from Golden Age Hollywood royalty like Ginger Rogers to then-up-and-comers like Teri Hatcher (who played a member of the dance troupe for the "Pacific Princess," the "Love Boat" Mermaids), David Hasselhoff, and Donny Most of "Happy Days." 

While "The Love Boat" last pulled up anchor in 1986 (reunion TV-movies and reboots notwithstanding), many of the original cast and guest stars are still active in the entertainment industry. However, below is a list of "Love Boat" stars you may not know passed away.

Gavin McLeod: the captain, on and off screen

Though it's hard to consider anyone captaining the Pacific Princess other than Gavin MacLeod, the veteran TV actor and five-time Golden Globe nominee was actually the third actor to pilot the ship during its lengthy voyage on the airwaves. Actors Ted Hamilton and Quinn Redeker (who co-wrote the original story that became "The Deer Hunter") both served as captains in the "Love Boat" TV movies before MacLeod was tapped to play Merrill Stubing.

MacLeod — a familiar face to TV viewers thanks to turns as Murray Slaughter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and crewman "Happy" Haines on "McHale's Navy," as well as countless guest roles — had the right mix of seriousness and bemusement for the role, and remained linked to "Love Boat" throughout the series' network run, TV-movie reunions, and even in real life as a global ambassador for Princess Cruises.

MacLeod also remained active after "Love Boat" as a guest star on series like "Oz" and "That '70s Show"; a devout Christian, MacLeod = hosted a faith-based program with his wife, Patti, on The Trinity Broadcasting Network for 17 years. After a period of ill health, MacLeod died at the age of 90 on May 29, 2021.

Florence Henderson was a 10-time passenger

Florence Henderson was one of the most prolific "Love Boat" guest stars, having booked 10 passages from its first season to the series closer, "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?" as well the first "Love Boat" TV movie in 1976. Only Marion Ross, who became a series regular in its final season, and Charo made more or met that number of appearances (14 and 10, respectively). Henderson's roles on the series included Julie's aunt in Season 3's "The Captain's Ne'er-do-well Brother/The Perfect Match/The Remake" and country singer Annabelle Folker in both Season 5's "Country Blues/Daddy's Little Girl/Jackpot" and a country music-themed two-part episode in Season 6.

Henderson was, of course, the once and future Carol Brady on "The Brady Bunch" and its numerous spin-offs and follow-ups, but the former Broadway star was also a prolific guest star on many other series and hosted her own eponymous, Emmy-nominated talk show from 2007 to 2009. Henderson died of heart failure on November 24, 2016; her final feature film appearance, "Bad Grandmas," was released the following year.

Ex-Mrs. Roper Audra Lindley set sail eight times

Though her best-known role was undoubtedly the acid-tongued Helen Roper on "Three's Company" and its short-lived spin-off, "The Ropers," actress Audra Lindley had been working on Broadway, television and in features since World War II. Her talent for hard drama and breezy comedy gave her a long career after her Golden Globe-nominated run as Helen Roper, including stints as Phoebe's grandmother on "Friends" and Cybill Shepherd's mother on "Cybill," among many other big and small screen projects.

Lindley also appeared in the pilot for the "Love Boat" series in 1977 and returned to the Lido Deck seven additional times, including Season 1's "Message for Maureen/Gotcha/Acapulco Connection," where she and Milton Berle drove fellow passengers crazy with practical jokes, and Season 4's "Aquaphobiac/Humpty Dumpty/The Starmaker," where she played the fiancée of water-fearing Louis Nye.

Lindley worked steadily throughout the '80s and '90s, appearing in everything from the LGBTQ-themed indie "Desert Hearts" to the biting comedy "The New Age" and the horror-thriller "The Relic." Her final screen appearance was on a 1997 episode of "Cybill"; Lindley died of leukemia on October 16 of that year, at the age of 79.

"The Love Boat" went Pop when Andy Warhol was a guest

The term "meta" rarely, if ever comes to mind when considering "The Love Boat," but to celebrate its 200th episode in 1985, the series created what is unquestionably one of television's most astonishing meta-moments. The Season 9 episode, "Hidden Treasure/Picture from the Past/Ace's Salary," features the legendary Andy Warhol playing himself as a passenger aboard the "Pacific Princess" on the occasion of its 200th voyage. Warhol's presence is given a nominal storyline — he's choosing a passenger as the subject of his latest portrait, much to the consternation of fellow traveler Marion Ross (who in real life once starred in one of his underground movies).

Warhol's real contribution to the episode is his presence. Clad in black and sporting a white shock wig, Warhol drifts in and out of scenes, silently snapping Polaroids and generally acting like a hip ghost who has wandered on board from a different, far less sunny program (or dimension). Trailing him in every scene is a primetime TV idea of Warhol's entourage, a trio of model types with strong MTV vibes.

Warhol, a major figure in art, filmmaking, and publishing for more than three decades, would close out the 1980s working with fellow artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and paintings for Mercedes-Benz, attending WWF matches and directing music videos for the UK band Curiosity Killed the Cat. While recovering from gallbladder surgery in 1987, Warhol died of a post-operative irregular heartbeat on February 22 of that year at the age of 58.

Jessica Walter lent an edge to eight voyages

Whether it was her Golden Globe-nominated turn as a deranged fan in Clint Eastwood's "Play Misty for Me" or her Emmy-nominated run as Lucille Bluth on "Arrested Development," actress Jessica Walter could be counted upon to bring a little drama to any film or TV appearance. Her eight appearances on the "Love Boat" were no exception: Walter played a high school crush of Captain Stubing's who prompted him to lose weight fast in Season 1's "The Business of Love/Crash Diet Crisis/I'll Never Fall in Love Again," and a woman who pretended that Doc made a pass at her during an exam in order to regain the attention of her husband (Alex Cord) on Season 4's "Doc's Dismissal/The Frugal Pair/The Girl Next Door."

An Emmy winner for the 1974 police drama "Amy Prentiss," as well as a National Vice President of the Screen Actors Guild, Walter moved successfully between comedy and drama in features and animation and on television and stage throughout her half-century career. She played everything from the sorceress Morgan Le Fay in the 1978 TV-movie adaptation of "Dr. Strange" to Harry Wilson's ex-movie star mom on "90210," and lent her distinctive voice to Athena (on "Justice League Action"), Granny Goodness ("Harley Quinn") and Malory Archer on "Archer," which earned Walter her final Emmy nomination in 2021. Walter died in her sleep on March 24 of that same year at the age of 80.

Seven "Love Boat" episodes was easy for hard-working David Hedison

David Hedison set sail with "The Love Boat" no less than seven times between 1977 and 1985 — an impressive feat, though not out of character for the TV vet, who also made multiple appearances on "Fantasy Island" and "The Fall Guy," as well as countless one-time turns on other series during this same time frame. Hedison's adventures on the "Pacific Princess" included a turn as Julie's former and newly-divorced boyfriend in Season 1's "Julie's Old Flame/The Jink/The Identical Problem," and a boarding school headmaster hiring Charo to teach him Spanish in Season 5's "April in Boston/Saving Grace/Breaks of Life."

Hedison was no stranger to oceanic adventures, having battled sea monsters, Communist spies, and ghosts on Irwin Allen's science fiction series "Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea" between 1964 and 1968. Under his real name — Al Hedison — he rose to fame in the late '50s as the star of "The Fly," and after adopting David (his middle name) as his stage moniker, he went on to even greater fame with two turns as CIA operative Felix Leiter opposite two different James Bonds — Roger Moore in "Live and Let Die" and Timothy Dalton in "License to Kill" — as well as countless TV guest roles and feature film appearances.

Still active into his late 70s and early 80s, primarily as a cast member on soaps like "The Young and the Restless," Hedison's last screen appearance was in 2017's "Confessions of a Teenage Jesus Jerk," an indie comedy directed by Eric Stoltz. Hedison died of natural causes at the age of 92 on July 18, 2019.

Erin Moran played grown-up on six episodes

"Happy Days" mainstay Erin Moran fled the fictitious Wisconsin of "Happy Days" on six occasions to take a cruise between 1980 and 1985. Having matured past her precocious phase by this period, Moran's guest roles were invariably young women in various stages of a relationship: She and screen fiancé Brian Kerwin dealt with meddling parents Peter Graves and Kathie Browne in the Season 4 two-parter "The Family Plan/The Promoter/May the Best Man Win/Forever Engaged/The Judges," and played newlywed with Richard Gilliland when both were booked into a honeymoon suite on Season 8's "Ace Takes the Test/The Counterfeit Couple/The Odd Triple."

By the airing of the latter episode, Moran's acting career had begun a downward spiral. Her "Happy Days" spin-off "Joanie Loves Chachi" had been canceled after 17 episodes in 1983, and she found herself unable to land substantive roles outside of guest shots. Moran struggled with depression and financial instability in the decades that followed, though she made occasional returns to acting on TV and features. She was found dead in her home in Indiana on April 22, 2017; the 56-year-old Moran was later declared to have died of complications from throat cancer.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Lineby texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at _1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Sonny Bono stopped by "The Love Boat" between pop and politics

At the time of his five appearances on "The Love Boat," Sonny Bono was between careers. His long tenure as a pop singer, songwriter and TV star with former wife Cher was in the past, and he had carved a second niche for himself as an actor in features and on television. Invariably, Sonny's acting roles hinged on his screen persona of the hapless, short-statured nebbish, as seen in his first "Love Boat" appearance in Season 2's "The Man Who Loved Women/A Different Girl/Oh, My Aching Brother," which cast him and comic Marty Ingels as insurance scammers hoping to score a quick buck by suing the cruise line for an alleged accident. He would go on to play a cash-strapped husband in Season 3's "Making the Grade/The Gift/Doc's 'Ex" Change," and played out of character – far, far out – as a KISS-styled rocker on Season 2's "Murder on the High Seas/Sounds of Silence/Cyrano de Bricker."

Bono would find a third career in politics, serving as the mayor of Palm Springs and later, the congressman from California's 44th district from 1988 to 1998. He also continued to act on occasion, but efforts like the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, which kept many works from falling into the public domain, dominated his focus during this period. While serving his first term in the House of Representatives, the 62-year-old Bono died of injuries suffered during a skiing accident on January 5, 1998.

Edie Adams was marooned on a two-parter

Actress Edie Adams appears in one of the craziest episodes of "The Love Boat," the two-part Season 2 opener "Marooned/The Search/Isaac's Holiday," which manages to link storylines involving passengers — including squabbling couple Adams and Avery Schreiber — and crew stranded by a hurricane (and held captive by hermit John Astin!), a terminally ill patient (Audra Lindley), and Isaac interrupting his vacation to save the "Pacific Princess" from incompetent substitute captain Dick Martin. But Adams was accustomed to on-screen anarchy.

A Tony-winning Broadway star, Adams also the on-screen/off-screen partner of Ernie Kovacs, the innovative TV comic who pushed the boundaries of television in the 1950s with stream-of-consciousness humor. A gifted and Emmy-nominated comic actor in her own right, Adams remained active in features and television after Kovacs' untimely death in 1962, appearing in Billy Wilder's "The Apartment," alongside a host of comic greats in "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," and even Cheech and Chong in "Up in Smoke."

Adams also wrote, produced, and designed costumes for her own Emmy-nominated 1963-64 variety series, "Here's Edie," which featured cool guests — jazz greats Duke Ellington and Count Basie, as well as Bobby Darin and Don Rickles — and on-location filming in Las Vegas and London. She was also a tireless advocate for preserving early television like her work with Kovacs, which had been forgotten by the networks. Adams died of pneumonia at the age of 81 on October 15, 2008.

Beth Howland took a break from "Alice" to make six "Love Boat" appearances

At the height of actress Beth Howland's TV fame, generated by her four-time Golden Globe-nominated turn as the easily baffled Vera on "Alice," she made six appearances on "The Love Boat." 

It's no surprise that her guest roles hinged on humor: she was the niece of millionaire Lloyd Bridges, who comes to regret her choice of a new valet (Jim Nabors of "The Andy Griffith Show") on the Season 5 two-parter "Farnsworth's Fling/Three in a Bed/I Remember Helen/Merrill, Melanie & Melanesia/Gopher Farnsworth Smith," and a love-starved Army captain who sets her sights on Gopher in Season 7's "Youth Takes a Holiday/Don't Leave Home Without It/Prisoner of Love."

A veteran of Broadway musicals before "Alice" made her a star, Howland drifted away from acting when the CBS series ran its course in 1985. She made a handful of appearances on other series, including "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," and earned her final screen credit with a voice-over role on the Nickelodeon animated series "As Told to Ginger" in 2002. Howland died of lung cancer at the age of 76 on December 31, 2015.

Dick Van Patten was almost Doc on "The Love Boat"

TV vet Dick Van Patten was cast as O'Neil, the ship's doctor and would-be Adam Bricker, in the first "Love Boat" pilot, and though he didn't pick up the gig, he did return to the subsequent series on six occasions. Van Patten's enduring nice-guy screen image kept some of his "Love Boat" characters from tipping into unpleasant territory, like his disgraced congressman in Season 1's "Winner Take Love/The Congressman was Indiscreet/Isaac's History Lesson," a businessman who wants to replace his long-suffering secretary (Rue McClanahan) with a younger woman (Judy Landers) in Season 5's "His Girls Friday/A Wife for Wilfred/The Girl Who Stood Still," and an aggravated car salesman married to Captain Stubing's childhood friend (McClanahan again).

A former child star on Broadway and radio, Van Patten was best known for his starring role as the patriarch of a sprawling family on "Eight is Enough," and countless guest roles like his "Love Boat" appearances. He also enjoyed a long career in features that included  the original "Westworld" and "Freaky Friday," as well as several Mel Brooks comedies, including "Spaceballs," "High Anxiety," and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights." A successful businessman who co-founded his own line of pet foods, Van Patten died from complications of diabetes on June 23, 2015 at the age of 86.

Would you believe ... Don Adams was on five "Love Boat" episodes

While "Get Smart" provided Don Adams with TV fame, three Emmys, and a steady income for the rest of his life (he accepted a lower salary for his acting in favor of a percentage of the show's profits), it also typecast him as the straight-laced but bumbling secret agent Maxwell Smart for the remainder of his career. His greatest success outside of "Smart" was as the voice of Inspector Gadget on the long-running animated series; attempts to revive Smart in the 1980 film "The Nude Bomb" and a 1995 TV reboot did not generate interest from viewers.

Adams also kept busy with comedic guest roles on other series, including five appearances on "The Love Boat" between 1978 and 1984. Again, Adams played his share of Maxwell Smart-alikes: in Season 5's "Doc Takes the Fifth/Safety Last/A Business Affair," he was an officious and overly cautious safety inspector, while in Season 6's "The Zinging Valentine/The Very Temporary Secretary/Final Score," he played a temp agency head who decides to stand in for a secretary, despite his lack of office skills.

Adams died of a lung infection at the age of 82 on September 25, 2005.

"Dallas" star Timothy Patrick Murphy got romantic on "The Love Boat"

Best known as bad boy Mickey Trotter on Seasons 5 and 6 of "Dallas," actor Timothy Patrick Murphy also logged five appearances on "The Love Boat." The youthful Murphy was typically cast as lovestruck young men: he partnered with Cristen Kauffman as newlyweds on Season 3's "Not Now, I'm Dying/Too Young to love/Eleanor's Return" and a wealthy young man who catches Julie's eye in the Season 8 two-partner "Caribbean Cruise" (which also featured Latino boy band Menudo).

A former child actor, Murphy graduated from television commercials to a recurring role on the daytime soap "Search for Tomorrow" and numerous guest appearances on "CHiPs," "Hotel," and a series regular role on "Love Boat" producer Aaron Spelling's short-lived publishing industry series "Glitter." He also played a character based on the young Michael Landon in "Sam's Son," a rarely-seen 1984 feature written and directed by Landon himself. Murphy died of AIDS at the age of 29 on December 6, 1988 in Sherman Oaks, California.

Peter Graves' mission: star in four "Love Boat" episodes

A Golden Globe and Emmy winner for his best-known TV roles — the unflappable agent Jim Phelps on "Mission: Impossible," and the host of the long-running "Biography" series — Peter Graves was also a four-time passenger on "The Love Boat." 

He played a reverend who is fixed up with an exotic dancer on Season 2's "The Minister and the Stripper/Her Own Two Feet/Tony's Family," and drove Erin Moran to distraction as the disapproving father of her new fiancé on the two-part "Family Plan/The Promoter/May the Best Man Win/Forever Engaged/The Judges." Graves also turned up in the final episode of the series, "Who Killed Maxwell Thorn," where he spoofed his "Impossible" role by noting that his secretary would "disavow any knowledge of [his] actions."

Graves, who poked good-natured fun at his own unflappable screen image on multiple occasions — most notably in "Airplane!" as the disquieting Captain Clarence Oveur — worked in features and on television from the early 1950s to the mid-2000s, and logged appearances in everything from the "Mystery Science Theater 3000" favorites "Killers from Space" to "Men in Black II." Graves died of a heart attack four days before his 84th birthday, on March 14, 2010.