Nothing rocks the boat for Gavin MacLeod of 'Love Boat' these days

March 14, 1991|By Henry Scarupa

There is life after "Love Boat" for actor Gavin MacLeod -- and plenty of it.

For nine years beginning in 1977, Mr. MacLeod starred in the popular ABC series as the irrepressible Capt. Merrill Stubing, skippering the fictional cruise ship through television's champagne seas on prime-time Saturday night.

Although the show was discontinued in 1986, the 60-year-old native of Mount Kisco, N.Y., has not given up ocean cruises. He now does commercials and other promotional work for the Princess ships, a job that allows him to go on a cruise at least once a year without the pressure of acting in a TV series. Yesterday, on a tour of the East, he stopped in Baltimore to pitch the Princess Regal, the newest ship in the fleet, to area travel agents.

As the star of "Love Boat," Mr. MacLeod was seen every week by 30 to 40 million viewers in the United States as well as by countless fans in 83 other countries. In the '70s, he also had gained audience appreciation when he played Murray Slaughter on the "Mary Tyler Moore Show." The vast public identity resulting from those successes changed his life, enabling him to lead a seemingly ideal existence.

"One of the rewards of being lucky in television is that people want to see me," he said yesterday, while pausing at a hotel near BWI Airport. "I'm able to sell a lot of tickets. And that means I can do what I want to do as far as acting goes in the media I prefer, and still do well."

Mr. MacLeod recently co-starred with Olympia Dukakis in "The Last Act is a Solo," a made-for-for-TV play by Robert Anderson, due to air April 2 on the Arts and Entertainment cable show "Playwrights Theatre." Then in December he will perform in a new musical based on the comic character Dennis the Menace and premiering in Kansas City, Mo.

Although he has acted in such movie hits as "Operation Petticoat" and "Sand Pebbles," Mr. MacLeod has declined roles lately because the material was not right for him.

"I'm looking for stuff that will inspire kids to do something with their lives, to overcome difficulties," he said. "I don't mind waiting because I can afford to wait. At this point in my spiritual life, I have a lot of patience."

The former "Love Boat" captain and his wife also do the TV show "Back On Course" on Trinity Broadcasting Network, dealing with marriage and how it can be strengthened by Judeo-Christian principles.

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