12 classic Hollywood actors who appeared on 'The Love Boat'

No show had a better roster of guest stars than 'The Love Boat'

In terms of quality television, The Love Boat is never lofted alongside I Love Lucy or M*A*S*H as one of the greats. That being said, it had a certain quality that helped it last for nine seasons and 250 episodes. 

That special je ne sais quoi about the show not only attracted viewers, it helped attract some of the most powerful actors and actresses from Hollywood's Golden Age. Besides a movie premiere in the 1950s, where else could you see the likes of Ethel Merman, Olivia de Havilland and Debbie Reynolds all in one place?

Here are some of the best, albeit rather random, guest stars from the nine seasons of The Love Boat. Welcome aboard!

1. Olivia de Havilland


Season 4, episode 23

The screen legend, who turned 100 earlier this month, starred as Aunt Hilly in the episode "The Duel/Two for Julie/Aunt Hilly."

2. Helen Hayes


Season 3, episode 28

No one embodied classic Hollywood quite like Hayes. The actress appeared as Agatha Winslow is the episode "No Girls for Doc/Marriage of Convenience/The Caller/The Witness." 

3. Ethel Merman & Ann Miller


Season 5, episode 21

This one's a real showstopper! Merman and Miller joined forces to put on the special musical episode "The Musical/My Ex-Mom/The Show Must Go On/The Pest/My Aunt, the Worrier." The icons were joined by fellow legends Carol Channing and Della Reese. 

4. Mickey Rooney


Season 6, episode 13

Rooney sat down with newlyweds, played by Maureen McCormick and Donny Osmond, to give some advice in "The Christmas Presence." 

Side note: If Judy Garland were still alive at the time, could you imagine the two of them playing an older couple?

5. Ginger Rogers


Season 3, episode 10

The Academy Award–winning actress popped up in the two-part episode "The Critical Success/The Love Lamp Is Lit/Take My Boy Friend, Please/Rent a Family/The Man in Her Life." 

6. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


Season 5, episode 3

While Rogers didn't pair up with Fred Astaire for her appearance on The Love Boat, she co-starred with another classic leading man. Fairbanks, Jr., appeared in the same two-parter, as well as in the episode "Two Grapes on the Vine/Aunt Sylvia/Deductible Divorce."

7. Rita Moreno


Season 7, episode 7

By the time Moreno appeared on The Love Boat, she had already accomplished the EGOT. Despite the huge achievement, she still worked regularly, taking a part in the two-part episode "When Worlds Collide/The Captain and the Geisha/The Lottery Winners/The Emperor's Fortune." 

8. Janet Leigh


Season 2, episode 9 / Season 8, episode 16

Do you think she checked behind the shower curtain when she got to her suite? The Pyscho actress appeared in two episodes, once in the second season episode "Till Death Do Us Part-Maybe/Locked Away/Chubs" and again in season eight's "Instinct/Unmade for Each Other/BOS."

9. Debbie Reynolds


Season 4, episodes 2 & 3  / Season 6, episode 14

The triple threat appeared in three episodes, the two-part "The Family Plan/The Promoter/May the Best Man Win/Forever Engaged/The Judges" and "Paroled to Love/First Impressions/Love Finds Florence Nightingale."

10. Donald O'Connor


Reynolds' Singin' in the Rain costar also appeared on the series three times, in the episodes "Isaac's Teacher/Seal of Approval/The Successor" (Season 4, episode 13), "Paying the Piper/Baby Sister/Help Wanted" (Season 8, episode 13), and "Second Banana/The Prodigy/What Goes Around" (Season 9, episode 19).

11. Shelley Winters


Season 6, episode 1 & 2

Winters was worthy of a two-part guest spot in the episodes "The Venetian Love Song/Down for the Count/Arrividerci, Gopher/The Arrangement."

SEE MORE: What ever happened to the real "Love Boat"?


Wait a second, what ever happened to the real "Love Boat"? You'll never guess where it ended up! READ MORE

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Kelley1 39 months ago
Had Judy Garland been alive at the time, she would have played an older woman in love with Mickey Rooney's character but who was unable to get out of the friend zone. Of course in the end they'd find one another! And they would have been the featured performers on that voyage. It might have been possible one of them would have had a performing partner, with whom he/she would have been alleged to have a romance going, then they'd have ended up together. It would have been impossible to have them on board without having them perform. It may have even brought on a scandal, at the time, theoretically of course.
Pacificsun Kelley1 15 months ago
Except for one detail. She died in 1969.
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