Gavin MacLeod and Jill Whelan are eager to cruise down memory lane.
The actors, best known for playing Captain Stubing and his daughter Vicki on “The Love Boat,” will be embarking on the high seas in an attempt to set a world record for the largest vow renewal ceremony. The big day will be on Valentine’s Day 2020 aboard a Princess Cruises love boat.
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“The Love Boat,” which aired from 1977 until 1986, was based on the romantic and comic tales of the passengers and crew of the cruise ship Pacific Princess. The series was famous for having numerous celebrity guest stars, including Olivia de Havilland, Debbie Reynolds, Gloria Vanderbilt, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks, Janet Jackson and Andy Warhol — just to name a few. “The Love Boat” also sparked the growth of the cruise industry, which continues to thrive today.
MacLeod, 88, and Whelan, 52, spoke to Fox News about keeping the show’s legacy alive, their biggest piece of advice concerning matters of the heart, and why they’re hoping longtime fans will join them on their epic journey.
Fox News: Gavin, you’ve co-starred with some of the most glamorous women of Hollywood on “The Love Boat.” Who was your favorite and why?
MacLeod: Well, [Jill’s] my favorite. Not because she’s sitting here, but she’s always been my favorite since she was 10 years old, with those blue eyes. She’s just a captivating personality… But I don’t know. The captain did have a few romances on this ship, but the one he did marry was Marion Ross, who was a good old friend of mine.
We’ve been friends since we were 20 years old. We first worked for Desilu together, and then we did “Operation Petticoat” together with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. And then she was on “Happy Days.”… They were… asking me if I would like a permanent love interest. I said, “It’s about time.” So the last two years Marion came onboard. And she was my good friend and it was so nice. I respect her as an actress so much. And she and Jill got together. Everybody loves Marion. And so, for me, she’s the top of the list, outside of my real wife and Jill.
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Fox News: Jill, how much of a fan was Andy Warhol of all people?
Whelan: I was in New York and his assistant tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “Are you Jill Whelan?” And I said, “Yes, I am.” And she said, “If Andy knew you were here, he would absolutely want me to invite you down to The Factory. Do you have time to come with me to The Factory?” And of course, I said yes. And so I went to The Factory and Andy took me around, had his Polaroid camera – as he always did – and introduced me around. And I had this incredible day at The Factory. And he signed these posters for me, some Frankenstein posters.
Fox News: Reboots are all the rage. Would either of you consider being part of a “Love Boat” reboot?
Whelan: We’ve talked about a reboot. We’re thinking about how we would fit into something like that.
Fox News: How important has it been for both of you to keep the show’s legacy alive?
Whelan: It’s not us that are keeping it alive as much it is the fans.
MacLeod: It’s the reruns.
Whelan: Right. And the people who love it.
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Gavin MacLeod: When we went off, we were in 90 countries. And we’ve been off since ’87. And then we did specials after that. And then there was the other, the second wave, with Bob Urich, that came in. But we were only in one of those. But all over the world, now we’re getting mail from Russia, Japan, and China. So, that’s 95 countries that we’re in. I think, when the world gets more tempestuous, people want happy endings. People want love stories. People want stories where people care for each other, where people can change for the better. And that’s what happened with “The Love Boat.”
People sit together with their grandparents and watch the show. But there aren’t too many of those things you can do today, so they watch the reruns. And now, generation after generation, they’re sharing what is “The Love Boat,” and their lives have become a part of that, which is wonderful for us. We don’t get residuals, but it’s a nice thing. People think we can buy the Taj Mahal. That’s not true. We can go and visit. But we can’t buy it.
Fox News: How can we navigate our way through the sea of love?
Whelan: Oh, well, first of all, never settle. That’s number one, I think. And honesty and having an open heart.
MacLeod: I’ve come to realize that love is three people. It’s you and your partner and God. And, to me, that triangle is the most solidifying thing in the world. To me, that’s where love is really significant, and love that never fails. And that’s what works for me.
Fox News: How exciting is it to officiate and host the largest vow renewal at sea next year?
MacLeod: Well, it’s very exciting for me. I’ll be officiating. And just the fact that people want to renew their wedding vows is a very positive thing these days. Most people aren’t even getting married anymore, so it was nice to do that. My wife will be there. We’ll be renewing our wedding vows… And a lot of folks will, we hope, will be coming aboard Princess to do it.
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Whelan: This is such a bucket list item for those people who are fans of “The Love Boat,” whether they watch them in reruns or whether they watched them when they first came out, and then again in reruns — the fact that you can have Captain Stubing officiate the renewal of your wedding vows at sea and be part of Princess Cruise … It’s just going to be an amazing opportunity, and we’re so excited to be a part of it.
MacLeod: And the cruise itself is going to be wonderful. There’ll be all kinds of activities with romance as the No. 1 theme, as you can imagine. And so, Princess has always been that way, but this is specifically for those people who are in love, want to be in love, used to be in love, want to have a new love, or maybe just want to be together.
Whelan: Or just want to be around love.