The Love Boat

TV classics

USA 1977-87, nine seasons, four specials, 249 episodes, approximately 50 minutes each, ABC, color. Produced by Aaron Selling, Douglas S. Cramer. Cast: Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Ted Lange, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan, Ted McGinley, Pat Klous. Guest stars: June Allyson, The Andrew Sisters, Eve Arden, Gene Barry, Polly Bergen, Amanda Blake, Tom Bosley, Raymond Burr, Sid Caesar, Leslie Caron, Cyd Charisse, Olivia de Havilland, Patty Duke, Joan Fontaine, Greer Garson,  Andy Griffith, Katherine Helmond, Celeste Holm, Gene Kelly, Werner Klemperer, Jack Klugman, Dorothy Lamour, Janet Leigh, Allen Ludden, Rue McClanahan, Leslie Nielsen, Lilli Palmer, Donna Reed, Della Reese, Debbie Reynolds, Marion Ross, Eva Marie Saint, Jaclyn Smith, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Sada Thompson, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Betty White, William Windom, Shelly Winters, Jane Wyatt, Jane Wyman and many others

Plot summary: On the Pacific Princess, love and laughter are all-inclusive.

Love Boat crewReview: In 1976, three TV movies launched the career of a special ship, the Pacific Princess. Based on a non-fiction book by cruise director Jeraldine Saunders, the so-called Love Boat traveled the world with Captain Stubing and his crew. Each week, they were accompanied by a wide array of guests stars ranging from Hollywood legends to contemporary starlets. Split into three different stories, every episode focused on love, comedy and drama. Written by three sets of writers, the weekly plots rarely crossed over but instead made The Love Boat crew the pivotal element that held them all together.

The Captain (Gavin MacLeod), Doc (Bernie Kopell) and bartender Isaac Washington (Ted Lange) were the longest serving members of an ensemble that appeared to be tight on camera and off. They were supported by Gopher (Fred Grandy) and Julie McCoy, played by Lauren Tewes, a young actress who successfully earned her stripes on TV in the first seven seasons. Eventually, they were joined by Jill Whelan as Vicki Stubing, the Captain’s daughter, and Pat Klous as Jody McCoy, Julie’s sister and replacement for the last two seasons. In 1979, Charlie’s Angels checked in on the Pacific Princess to solve a case and simultaneously introduce Shelley Hack as the latest angelic addition. Collaborations like that were rare but boosted ratings for Aaron Spelling’s other projects, Fantasy Island following suit in 1980.

Popular around the world during its ten year run, The Love Boat offered an escape from the grim realities of politically callous times. At the height of the Cold War, the program was bubbly, glamorous and diverting. A perfect vehicle for old stars and new ones alike and thus an evening favorite for boomers and their parents. Shown in reruns for many years, the first two seasons were finally made available on DVD in 2008. A great treat for anyone who has fond memories of flares, weekly cameos and the famous theme song performed by Jack Jones (as well as by Dionne Warwick in 1987).

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Oh, Susanna

TV classics: The Gale Storm Show

USA 1956-60, 4 seasons,  143 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS and ABC, black & white. Created by: Lee Karson. Cast: Gale Storm, ZaSu Pitts, Roy Roberts and James Fairfax.

Plot summary: As a cruise director, Susanna Pomeroy sees the world and meets people from all around, including guest stars such as Pat Boone.

Gale StormReview: Two decades before Love Boat would hoist its sails to become a family favorite for almost a decade, The Gale Storm Show (aka Oh, Susanna) premiered on CBS, featuring  the popular singer/actress as cruise director Susanna Pomeroy. Traveling the world on a ship, the show’s star was supported by silent film veteran ZaSu Pitts as the title character’s best friend Elvira Nugent, as well as by recurring crew members Roy Roberts (as Captain Huxley)  and James Fairfax. Berthing in different harbors each week, Susanna and Nugie went on new adventures in exciting countries and cities, meeting interesting locals and colorful guests.

Designed as a sitcom with variety elements, Gale Storm did not only get a chance to attract her audience as an actress and comedienne, but also as the talented cover songstress she had developed into after the completion of her first television success, My Little Margie. Her trademark whistle, although used differently in both hit shows, is one of many memories her fans still associate with Gale Storm and her infectious on screen personality. Always good-natured, wholesome and amusing, Gale Storm was a wonderful entertainer who brought her fans a lot of laughter and joy when TV was still in its infancy. Today, only twenty-four episodes of The Gale Storm Show are available on DVD, an unfortunate fact that deprives old fans and new ones of the full glory and glamor of a lovely program named after its versatile leading lady.

 

Interview Treats

Many of you may already be familiar with these, but for those of you who are not, I am happy to introduce you to the Archive of American Television*. They offer a variety of in depth interviews with legendary faces behind and in front of the camera back in the earlier days of television. If you ask me about my dream job, this would be it: initiating serious, easeful conversations with the people who created my favorite screen memories.

Below you can find a selection of my favorite interviews, but there are many more for you to enjoy. If you’re like me, you’ll end up spending an entire weekend exploring the archive and listening to your favorite people. Just grab a cup of tea, some cookies and a blanket, then cuddle up on the couch with your laptop nearby and embrace the stories and memories of your childhood heroes. It’s a real treat!

Alan Alda, Julie Andrews, Bea Arthur, Tom Bosley, Carol Burnett, Tyne Daly, James Garner, Sharon Gless, Katherine Helmond, Shirley Jones, Eartha Kitt, Angela Lansbury, Jack Lemmon, Rue McClanahan, Mary Tyler Moore, Diana Muldaur, Phylicia Rashad, Della Reese, Marion Ross, Jean Stapleton, Gale Storm, Loretta Swit, Dick Van Dyke, Betty White, Jane Wyman and many others…

* The Archive of American Television is also on Youtube. You can find their TV Legends channel here.

My Little Margie

TV classics: My Little Margie

USA 1952-55, 4 seasons,  126 episodes, approximately 25 minutes each, CBS and NBC, black & white. Created by: Frank Fox, Theme music composer: Alexander Lazlo. Cast: Gale Storm, Charles Farrell

Plot summary: 21-year-old Margie lives with her widowed father Verne Albright. With their darling quirks and tics, they are a family like none other.

Review: My Little Margie was a sitcom that started as a summer replacement for I Love Lucy and lasted for four full seasons on its own merit, switching channels in its third year from CBS to NBC. Circling around twenty-two-year-old Margie and her life with her widowed father, the show introduced a rather unusual family to the screen. Back in the 50s, families were more traditionally depicted with a mother, father and their two or three children; well-known examples surely are The Donna Reed Show or Father Knows Best.

My Little Margie featured thirty-year-old Gale Storm as Margie who did her best at giving convincing performances in this screwball-esque show. She was supported by an equally committed Charles Farrell whose Verne Albright was often brought to the brink of sanity by his on-screen daughter and her many mishaps, oddities and darling endeavors. The main characters sometimes teamed up with guest stars such as Gertrude Hoffmann’s Mrs. Odetts, an Ethel-Mirth-inspired sidekick to Margie, or Verne’s boss Mr. Honeywell played by Clarence Kolb. Some episodes also included Margie’s boyfriend Freddy Wilson (Don Hayden) Verne’s many attempts at finding himself a new wife until he finally found Roberta (Hillary Brooke).

All in all, the show was pure entertainment: lovely to watch and relax to for children and their parents alike. Not unlike Life With Elizabeth, Susie or I Married Joan, the show has found a new audience since selected episodes have been released on DVD or channels like youtube. With the rights now in the public domain, it would be fantastic to see more episodes published for old as well as new fans to enjoy. My Little Margie may soon be celebrating its sixtieth birthday but for everyone who’s interested in cultural history it is still a lot of fun to watch.

My Little Margie sample episode