Jeraldine Saunders, the creator of hit ABC series The Love Boat, died Feb. 26 at her home in Glendale from complications of kidney stone surgery she underwent in December. She was 96.
She was best known for writing the 1974 book The Love Boats, which the ABC comedy-drama was based on. The book documented her experience on the high seas as the first female cruise director for a major cruise line, Princess Cruises.
SAUNDERS CREATED THE CRUISE INDUSTRY
The series, which was produced by Aaron Spelling, ran for nearly 250 episodes between 1977 and 1986.
Saunders recently received the Southern California Motion Picture Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented to her by The Love Boat star Bernie Kopell and Oscar-winning actress Margaret O’Brien. She was celebrated with a Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony with the Love Boat cast in May.
At the time of her death, Saunders was in the process of negotiating and writing an outline for a Broadway musical based on The Love Boat. She was also writing the second edition of her book Hypoglycemia, The Disease Your Doctor Won’t Treat as well as another high sea cruise line adventure book.
“Jeraldine was so happy this year and was basking in the limelight of the celebrations of the 40th
Anniversary of her TV deal and the first episodes of Love Boat,” said her spokesman Edward Lozzi. “Jeraldine was an active woman who never lost her interest in dancing, younger men, and the written word. She was a terrific, grateful, class act who refused to grow old. She was indomitable. She broke the gender barrier in a major industry, the cruise lines”
She leaves no immediate family and memorial services are pending.
THE LOVE BOAT – The hit TV series was a major cultural phenomenon from the 1970s into the 1980s. The TV show altered the style of cruising by ship. Jeraldine Saunders, a former cruise director, was the woman who revived the cruise industry with her book — The Love Boats.
- “Love Boat” became a household phrase throughout the world after the success of the TV series she created.
- During the mid-80s, I wrote for the very popular show. It was either in the top ten or top twenty of TV shows with major Neilson ratings.
- The premise used elements of “Oh Suzanna” — a 50s TV series where actress Gale Storm played a cruise director — combined with an earlier show Aaron Spelling had produced called “Love American Style.”
- The added difference was the running shipboard staff along with having the major story be dramatic and not a comedy.
Ms. Saunders tell-all book created a fantasy background for the show. “Something beautiful happens on a ship that doesn’t occur at a resort, on an airplane, or at a hotel.
- Perhaps it has something to do with the movement of the ship. People let down their protective walls and become playful.
- They smile and talk to strangers.
- It is as though you are at a private party and it’s proper to introduce one’s self.
- A cruise ship also works its magic on married couples who “fall in love all over again,” according to Saunders.
She certainly should be credited with turning a sagging 1970s industry into what we know today. Saunders and the TV show changed how cruise ships were perceived and run.
Princess Cruises was famously portrayed in the 1970’s and 1980’s hit TV show “The Love Boat“. The show ran for 10 seasons and featured many famous guest stars falling in love on the high seas. The Cruise line was originally founded in 1965 by Stanley McDonald.
- He began by chartering a single ship from another cruise line, Canadian Pacific Limited. The ship was named Princess Patricia and offered Alaska cruises starting in the Spring and ending in the Fall. With the boat sitting idle for the winter months, Mr. McDonald used the ship to offer cruises of the Mexican Riviera from Los Angeles.
- Unfortunately, the ship was not equipped for tropical cruising, as it did not have any air-conditioning.
- In November of 1967, Princess Patricia was replaced by the relatively new Princess Italia, which had been sub-chartered by Europe’s Costa Line. She began a whole new era of Mexico cruises for Princess starting on December 15, 1967. The ship later was used to begin Alaska cruises sailing from San Francisco in 1969.
The next charter ship to be leased from Costa was the Carla C. This ship was then dubbed Princess Carla by the cruise line, and it was on this ship that Jeraldine Saunders would begin writing the first chapters of her famous book The Love Boats.
The rest is history!