To celebrate its uncanny success at staying afloat eight years, The Love Boat’s executive producers, Aaron Spelling and Doug Cramer, threw a little soiree at the Beverly Hilton Hotel that would have made the show’s cruise director (once Lauren Tewes, now Patricia Klous) lose her sea legs. The 650 partygoers, nibbling baby shrimp, chicken and rice and baked Alaska beneath giant, plastic cutouts of palm trees, represented a good number of the 999 guests who have appeared on the show since its debut September 24, 1977. “We’ve had everyone from Helen Hayes to Tundra the dog,” boasted Spelling.
Alas, neither Hayes nor Tundra deigned to show. But no one, presumably, cared as the big “mystery guest” of the evening—the actress slated to be the 1,000th Love Boat star on the 200th episode airing the first week in May—made her entrance. “This is like winning a miraculous sweepstakes when I know I didn’t buy a ticket,” cooed Lana Turner, who did not, nevertheless, overlook the fee of some $25,000 that Love Boat pays its top guests. To commemorate Turner’s twirl on Love Boat, the producers hired Andy Warhol to do a portrait of Lana and even gave the shy artist a shot at guesting on an episode.
As Warhol inched around the ballroom playing paparazzo with his camera, guests like Joan Collins, Gavin MacLeod, Dabney Coleman, Mary Martin, Dick Van Patten, Ginger Rogers, Jean Stapleton, Carol Channing and Dorothy McGuire congratulated themselves on their perspicacity in doing Love Boat. “It’s a real show for actors,” said Tom Bosley, star of the late Happy Days and another guest on the 200th Love Boat episode. “It’s made me a commodity,” crowed skipper Gavin MacLeod. “Now people will pay to see me in the theater.”
Amid all the self-congratulation, Spelling, Cramer and ABC president Tony Thomopoulos (fiancé of Cristina De Lorean) dug up a little surprise: a treasure chest of goodies supposedly left behind by guest stars. There, for the delectation of all, was a giant fire extinguisher described as “a can of hair spray left by Ann Miller,” a small plastic fish purported to be the firstborn child of Tom (Splash) Hanks, a book on elocution left by Charo, another volume belonging to Phyllis Diller titled I’m Just Another Pretty Face…Every Two Years, and a package of dynamite—a thank-you from Ernest Borgnine for casting him opposite Shelley Winters.