Love Boat Captain Gavin MacLeod:
The Past, The Future and His Favorite Cruise Destinations
by Roy Witman © 2008
I recently had the great privilege to sit with one of
my favorite television and screen stars for an
interview. Gavin MacLeod has had a diverse and
interesting acting career that began in the late 1950s.
As we spoke, I was both impressed and awed at his
genuine personality, gentle spirit and professional
Born Allan George See on February 28, 1930, New
York native Gavin MacLeod fulfilled a tour in the Air
Force before returning to New York, changing his
name and working at Radio City Music Hall. After
breaking into the business in 1958 with his role in I
Want To Live! MacLeod went on to star with some of
Hollywood's most noted and respected stars.
Topping the list were Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Bing
Crosby and Mary Tyler Moore.
During the mid-80s, MacLeod and his then ex-wife
Patti, remarried and became evangelical Christians.
They have been serving as hosts on the Trinity
Broadcasting Network for about 14 years. Follow me
as I take a walk down Memory Lane with Mr.
ROY: Hawaii Five-0 is my all-time
TV show. In the series you played a big, tough crime
boss. The character's look and personality was unlike
most roles audiences equate you with today- The
Love Boat, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and
connection between my profession in the travel
industry, specializing in cruises, and my personal
pastime was the catalyst for my desire to interview
you. Had you spent much time in Hawaii prior to the
show? What was it like living and working there?
GAVIN: No, I flew over and had to wait for
my hotel suite to be made ready. Ricardo Montalban
was the first guest star and they hadn't finished
shooting. I played a tough drug dealer named Big
Chicken. When they cast me for the part, I told my
agent, “This does not describe me. They want
someone six-foot four, thin, with a goatee.” And I
said, “I'm wrong. I mean, I'm only five-foot ten and a
half and dumpy with no hair.”
We shot in the first film studio built on the island.
The show was titled, They Painted Daisies On His
Coffin. They wrote the character in a later show
first season called The Box. It was filmed in a
ROY: Actors who worked with Jack Lord
called him a perfectionist. I read that when he started
directing the show in the latter years, he would shoot
up to 30 takes until he was happy with the scene.
What was your experience like working with him as an
actor? Would you say the description applies? Did
you ever work with him after the show?
GAVIN: I heard from many actors that he
was hard to work with. We got along great! I worked
with Jack in a B movie with Betsy Palmer who was a
guest years later on The Love Boat and in
Story of Lynn Stuart back in 1957. I was very lucky.
other cast members were jealous that I got to eat
lunch with Jack in his private, air-conditioned trailer.
Jack mentioned making a movie together in Spain that
never happened. He got so busy with the series. It
happens in show business, you keep moving
ROY: You look great! Extremely fit and
healthy. What was your secret to getting in shape after
Hawaii-Five-0 and how do you maintain your
physical condition today?
GAVIN: I had a heart attack and I want to
live! My family has big genes- strong stock. I exercise
every morning. The best is yet to come!
ROY: You have been associated with
some of our generation's longest-running television
shows. Hawaii Five-0 is one of the longest-
police series - 12 seasons. The Love Boat
plus seasons. The Mary Tyler Moore Show - 7
seasons. What was it about these shows that carried
such tremendous audience appeal?
GAVIN: They had great writers, great
stories, had interesting characters, the chemistry of
the cast members all came together. The biggest
factor might have been that the shows were put on TV
at the right time at night to attract large audiences.
The Love Boat had two pilots that failed. Then
bring me in and the series takes off!
ROY: In addition to an impressive list of
movie credits, you have left an indelible mark on
audiences with memorable characters and
appearances in some of television's classic shows
like McHale's Navy, The Untouchables,
Dr. Kildare, The Munsters, Gomer
Pyle, The Andy
Griffith Show, The Man From UNCLE,
Heroes, The Rat Patrol, Combat,
It Takes A Thief, The
Big Valley and the Twilight Zone to name a few.
Obviously, typecasting was not a problem for you.
What was the secret to your appeal?
GAVIN: Efficiency. I knew my lines. I was
always ready. I took chances- almost never turned
down work. On The Big Valley I was thrown
horse! I remember being so sore. Being bald got me
jobs, too. Probably my greatest asset! I lost my hair at
18 years old. I would go to casting calls with my
hairpiece in a box in case they wanted someone with
ROY: This year marks the 30th
anniversary of The Love Boat and today you are
Princess Cruises' most recognizable spokesman.
From this special vantage point, how are today's
Princess ships different from the cruise ships of the
70s? How has the passenger cruise experience
GAVIN: The ships are so much bigger!
The choices are so many compared to what we had
back then. Twenty-four hour dining, movies under the
stars, gyms, computer rooms, the shows. The ports
have gotten so huge and crowded with so much
shopping. Not only in town but right at the docks.
ROY: You cruised around the world. Do
you have a few favorite destinations you can share
GAVIN: Alaska is so beautiful! Tahiti has
the most beautiful water. I love the national parks in
our country: they are breathtaking. The most beautiful
spot I have ever seen was Lake Como, Italy. We were
in Venice and took a car to Milan then drove up to the
town. Such breathtaking beauty and the best Italian
food I have ever eaten!
ROY: You and your family reside in
Southern California but you grew up in Westchester
County New York and attended Ithaca College right in
the heart of the snow belt. Our company is based in
Yonkers. I have to ask: do you miss the snow? What
do you miss most about New York and do you get
back here to visit or work very often?
GAVIN: I do miss the snow and sleet. As
a kid I was very anxious for a snowstorm so I could go
out and shovel and make some money. I have an
apartment in New York City and try and visit and go to
plays a lot. I have seen Jersey Boys three
already. I was in Rochester doing a shoot for a new
movie this past August. I was interviewed recently on
Good Morning America, so I have to say I miss
ROY: Thank you so much for your time
and hope to meet you one day at an industry function.
On the Crown Princess last year, they had to stop the
line because there was an hour and a half wait to take
a picture with you. You still draw so many fans that
keep The Love Boat very much alive!
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