Tom Hanks' first television role came on 'The Love Boat.' Here's why the actor called it 'a big deal'

Hanks' astonishing Hollywood career essentially started aboard The Pacific Princess.

Guest stars were certainly plentiful on The Love Boat, the former ABC show that aired for nine seasons starting in 1977. 

Of course each guest appearance was featured with their own section of the opening credits, followed by your Love Boat crew. By seaon four, The Love Boat was already an established show that had a massive following, part of the reason it would go another five years. 

In the season four opener, a young man by the name of Tom Hanks got his first shot on the television screen as a guest aboard The Pacific Princess. Hanks is a powerhouse name in Hollywood today, thanks to his many major successful movies during the Nineties. Sleepless in SeattleForrest Gump, Apollo 13 and the voice of Woody from Toy Story all sent Hanks' career to another level. 

Before his major Hollywood stardom came a small role on The Love Boat.

"I was on it and for some reason I was cast as an old college fraternity buddy of Gopher who comes on and hits on Julie McCoy," Hanks said in a 2019 discussion with Variety.

The role of Rick Martin in the episode "Friends and Lovers / Sergeant Bull / Miss Mother" proved to be a pretty big deal for the eventual star. Hanks recalled what a feeling it was as production of the episode began.

"I drove through the main gates of 20th Century Fox where the set from Hello, Dolly was still set up," he said, before coming to the realization of what this part might mean for his career. 

"I went on stage 24 or 19 or something like that and I was on the freaking Love Boat," he exclaimed in the discussion with succesful actress Renee Zellweger. 

For Hanks, what transpired on The Love Boat was an incredible feeling, and the congratulations calls quickly followed. 

"My fifth grade teacher called me up and said 'I can't believe my eyes. Tom, you're on The Love Boat,'" Hanks said. "When it aired... I can't tell you what it meant to my world." 

Hanks added that a very special moment for his career became even more memorable because of the life memory he had with his then young son. 

"He was only like three or four," Hanks said. "At the end of The Love Boat, it shows it sailing away and the close credits. He started crying and I asked him, 'why are you crying?' and he said, 'cause you're going away on The Love Boat.'"

Hanks added the moment between he and his son was "very sweet." 

While Hanks' career took off not long after his one and only appearance on The Love Boat, there is no short-changing what that one episode did for him. 

"It was a big deal." 

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49 Comments

DeborahRoberts 17 months ago
I love that Hanks embraces his old TV roles rather than trying to distance himself now that he's a "big" star!
Runeshaper 19 months ago
Great story, MeTV! Thanks for sharing! (-:
bagandwallyfan52 19 months ago
Did the writers of Get Smart ever
Reveal the real name of AGENT 99
played by Barbara Feldon?
daDoctah bagandwallyfan52 19 months ago
Nope. Just as they never revealed the last name of the title character in "Charles in Charge".
bagandwallyfan52 daDoctah 19 months ago
ALSO THE WRITERS OF HAPPY DAYS AND GARRY MARSHALL NEVER DID REVEAL WHATEVER
HAPPENED TO CHUCK CUNNINGHAM .
ALSO BAG ZOMBROSKI AND MOOSE
ALSO VANISHED FROM HAPPY DAYS WITH NO EXPLANATION AND THE
WRITERS OF HAPPY DAYS NEVER SAID WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BAG AND MOOSE.
ALSO THE WRITERS OF HAPPY DAYS NEVER EXPLAINED THE REAL
FIRST NAME OF BAG OR THE REAL
FIRST AND LAST NAME OF MOOSE.ALSO I WONDER WHY STICKS DOWNEY JR REPLACED
BAG ZOMBROSKI PLAYING THE DRUMS IN RICHIES BAND .
ALSO I WONDER WHY CPL BOYLE
DISAPPEARED FROM GOMER PYLE USMC WITH NO EXPLANATION AND
WAS REPLACED BY CPL SLATER .
ONE OF THE BIGGEST MYSTERIES
IN TV HISTORY IS:
WHAT WAS THE NAME OF THE ACTOR WHO PLAYED MR. SCHAUMP
ON THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW?
ALSO ON THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW STRANGER IN TOWN
ED SAWYER ARRIVED IN MAYBERRY
WITH THE ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE WAS MOVING TO MAYBERRY
AND THAT MAYBERRY WAS HIS
HOMETOWN .HOWEVER SINCE
ED SAWYER MOVED TO MAYBERRY
THEN WHERE WAS HE HIDING FOR THE ENTIRE 8 YEARS OF TAGS AND
3 YEARS OF MAYBERRY RFD??
bagandwallyfan52 daDoctah 19 months ago
ALSO ON HAPPY DAYS MARSHA
SIMMS WENDY AND EUGENE
BELVIN AND MELVIN BELVIN ALSO
VANISHED FROM MILWAUKEE
JUST LIKE CHUCK CUNNINGHAM
VANISHED AND BAG AND MOOSE.
bagandwallyfan52 daDoctah 19 months ago
On Green Acres NEWT KILEY (KAY
KUTER)AND ROY TRENDELL (ROBERT FOULK) VANISHED WITH
NO EXPLANATION AND ON PETTICOAT JUNCTION HERBIE BATES (DON WASHBROOK ) AND
JUNIOR HOCKER (RUSSELL HORTON) VANISHED WITH NO EXPLANATION.
ON MY 3 SONS SUDSY PFEIFFER
(RICKY ALLEN ) VANISHED WITH NO
EXPLANATION AND ON MY FAVORITE MARTIAN ANGELA BROWN *ANN MARSHALL)MRS.
BROWNS DAUGHTER DISAPPEARED INTO THIN AIR WITH NO EXPLANATION AFTER ONLY 3 EPISODES. ON LEAVE IT TO BEAVER
CHESTER ANDERSON (BUDDY HART) TOOEY BROWN (TIGER FAFARA ) AND BILL SCOTT (DAVID
KENT ) ALL PACKED THEIR BAGS AND JOINED LARRY MONDELLO
(RUSTY STEVENS) ON THE MAYFIELD BUS ON A ONE WAY TRIP TO MOUNT AIRY NORTH CAROLINA.
bagandwallyfan52 daDoctah 19 months ago
I GUESS THAT CLARENCE (GARY
FREIDKIN ) THE COOK AT ARNOLDS DRIVE IN LEFT MILWAUKEE AND
HAPPY DAYS WHEN HE GOT ON THE SAME MILWAUKEE BUS THAT TOOK
FLIP PHILLIPS KC CUNNINGHAM
EUGENE BELVIN MELVIN BELVIN
ASHLEY AND HEATHER PFISTER
TO THEIR NEW PLACE TO LIVE WHICH WAS MADISON WISCONSIN.
LoveMETV22 19 months ago
Tom Hanks is such a prolific and talented actor. Since his beginning television roles, to the present he has starred in many great films and TV series. With more to come.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 19 months ago
Here's an interesting question (IMO):

Do you think his success is because of the roles he accepts (plot, situation, inspiring writing).


Or the interpretation (meaning the understanding, presence and style) he brings to the role he's given?

𝓘 𝓼𝓱𝓸𝓾𝓵𝓭𝓷'𝓽 𝓼𝓹𝓸𝓲𝓵 𝓽𝓱𝓮 𝓪𝓷𝓼𝔀𝓮𝓻 but look at what he did with the solo role in Castaway (like his rapport with the soccer ball). 🎃
daDoctah Pacificsun 19 months ago
Gonna say it's a combination of him taking so many roles that the bad ones tend to get overlooked, and his talent making him come out on top even when the project itself is otherwise less than stellar.

Personally, I *liked* "Joe vs the Volcano" but Hanks himself is reportedly not happy with it at all. And he's said he regrets doing "Turner & Hooch" because it was such a downer when they killed the dog.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 19 months ago
I think it's his ability(ies) to not take things personally, and perseverance. Good or bad roles or reviews, he rolls with it. Sorry for the double (roll,role there). LOL
nd1irish Pacificsun 19 months ago
Soccer ball? Wilson was a volleyball . For shame 😂
LoveMETV22 nd1irish 19 months ago
Originally 20th Century Fox used Soccer Balls, they switched to Volleyballs several months into filming , because they had problems with something adhering to the soccer ball material.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 19 months ago
Thank you, LoveMETV22. Your penultimate research has saved the day yet again. 🦃
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 19 months ago
Your quite welcome. Wilson (from Castaway) actually has a following, believe it or not.
⚽ ⚽
bagandwallyfan52 19 months ago
How about showing Bosom Buddies
With Tom HANKS and Peter Scolari on
METV ?
Load previous comments
IF DON ADAMS HAD NOT BEEN
CHOSEN TO PLAY MAXWELL
SMART I THINK THAT ACTOR ALVY
MOORE COULD HAVE DONE AN EXCELLENT JOB OF PLAYING
MAXWELL SMART. I CAN JUST SEE
ALVY MOORE TALKING INTO THE
SHOE PHONE OR SAYING SORRY
ABOUT THAT CHEIF OR WOULD YOU
BELEIVE.ALVY MOORE LANDED THE ROLE OF HANK KIMBALL ON
GREEN ACRES.. I THINK THAT THE
PERSONALITY OF HANK KIMBALL AND MAXWELL SMART WERE VERY SIMILAR.I CAN EVEN PICTURE DON ADAMS PLAYING SCATTERBRAINED
HANK KIMBALL ON GREEN ACRES.
IT SEEMS LIKE METV HAD A HAPPY DAYS ARTICLE A WHILE BACK THAT SAID RALPH MALPH (DONNY MOST)
AND BAG ZOMBROSKI (NEIL J.
SCHWARTZ) SOMETIMES DROVE THE SAME YELLOW CAR IN DIFFERENT EPISODES OF HAPPY DAYS . IN THE HAPPY DAYS EPISODE CALLED GUESS WHOS COMING TO VISIT WHICH WAS THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF MOOSE
BARRY GREENBERG AND HIS GIRLFRIEND PLAYED BY CAREY WILLIAMS AND HAD THE ATTEMPTED DRAG RACE BETWEEN
SZIZZY AND FONZIE THERE IS A GUY WEARING GLASSES AND A DEMONS JACKET AND THIS GUY
LOOKED LIKE BAG EXCEPT BAG
DIDNT WEAR GLASSES.THIS GUY WEARING THE DEMON JACKET AND GLASSES DID NOT TALK.
ALSO I HEARD THST CHUCK CUNNINGHAM ONE GAVAN O'HERLIHY ACTUALLY APPEARED IN 9 EPISODES ON SEASON ONE OF HAPPY DAYS INSTEAD OF ONLY 7
EPISODES BUTNTHAT HIS ROLE IN
THOSE 2BEXTRA EPISODES WAS
EDITED.OUT.
IN THE SEASON 2 EPISODE OF
HAPPY DAYS CALLED BIG MONEY
LINDA PURL IS LISTED AS PLAYING
GLORIA BUT I NEVER SAW GLORIA IN THST EPISODE.
ALSO TOMMY LEONETTI PLAYED
CORPORAL NICK CUCCINELLI ON
GOMER PYLE USMC BEFORE ROY
STUART PLAYED CPL BOYLE.
THERE IS ONE EPISODE OF GOMER PYLE USMC WITH.GUEST STAR
SHERRY JACKSON AND TOMMY
LEONETTI WASNIN THSTNEPISODE BUT THE ONLY NSME IN.THE GOMER PYLE USMC CREDITS IS SHERRY JACKSON.
THERE IS ONE EPISODE OF LEAVE ITBTO BEAVER WITH KEN OSMOND AS EDDIE HASKELL BUT KEN OSMONDS NAMENIS NOT LISTED IN THE CREDITS.ON THE HAPPY DAYS EPISODE OUR GANG RICHIE IS TELLING CHACHI THE STORY OF HOW HE MET FONZIE AND BEATRICE COLEN IN HER LAST APPEARANCE AS MARSHA SIMMS
IS NOT LISTED IN THE CREDITS AT
THE END OF THE EPISODE.
BOTH TOM POSTON AND ALVY MOORE WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE PLAYING MAXWELL SMART BUT WE
CANT BE SURE ABOUT THAT BECAUSE DON ADAMS LANDED THE ROLE OF MAXWELL SMART.
bagandwallyfan52 19 months ago
https://youtu.be/3iivTxoefoA
TOM HANKS VS FONZIE ON
HAPPY DAYS.
Fun Fact: His wife Rita Wilson made HER acting debut in an early episode of Happy Days!
daDoctah cperrynaples 19 months ago
You sure about that? I seem to remember a Brady Bunch episode where Marcia and Greg's current girlfriend were both trying out for head cheerleader, and Greg was the one who had to cast the deciding vote, choosing between his sister and his girlfriend. In the end, he gave it to the third candidate, who was played by Rita Wilson.

IMDb says *that* was her acting debut, in 1972. Her two appearances of Happy Days came ten years later, in seasons 10 and 11 (hardly "early episodes").

She had appeared on Bosom Buddies a year before her first Happy Days role, playing the Satan-worshipping girlfriend of Peter Scolari's character.
bagandwallyfan52 daDoctah 19 months ago
RITA WILSON WAS IN THE SEASON
10 EPISODE OF HAPPY DAYS CALLED WHERE THE GUYS ARE WHERE SHE PLAYED BARBARA
McMaNUS A WOMAN THAT FONZIE
MET AT LAKE WHITEFISH WHERE
POTSIE (ANSON WILLIAMS) CHACHI
(SCOTT BAIO ) AND ROGER PHILLIPS(TED McGINLEY )TRICKED
FONZIE (HENRY WINKLER) INTO GOING TO IN ORDER TO MEET SONGLE WOMEN AFTER FONZIE BROKE UP WITH ASHLEY PFISTER
I DONT KNOW WHO RITA WILSON
PLAYED IN THE SEASON 10 EPISODE OF HAPPY DAYS ORNTHE TITLE OF THE SEASON 10 EPISODE THAT RITA WILSON APPEARED IN.
IN THE SEASON 11 EPISODE OF
HAPPY DAYS THREE WOMEN LOCK
ROGER PHILLIPS POTSIE WEBER
AND CHACHI ARCOLA IN A SAUNA
AND THE 3 WOMEN STEAL THEIR WALLETS. ALSO SEVERAL MONTHS AGO I TEMEMBER THAT YOU SAID THAT YOU DIDNT LIKE THE WAY THE WRITERS OF HAPPY DAYS GOT RID OF CHUCK CUNNINGHAM WHONWAS PLAYED BY TWO GREAT ACTORS GAVAN O'HERLIHY AND RANDOLPH ROBERTS.
BACK IN 1980 THE PRODUCERS OF
HAPPY DAYS WERE CONSIDERING
BRINGING BACK CHUCK CUNNINGHAM TO HAPPY DAYS BY
MAKING CHUCK THE NEW BASKETBALL COACH AT JEFFERSON HIGH SCHOOL.
BUTBA COUPLE OF WEEKS LATER THE PRODUCERS OF HAPPY DAYS CHANGED THEIR MINDS AND INSTEAD OF HAVING CHUCK CUNNINGHAM RETURN TO HAPPY DAYS THE WRITERS CREATED THE NEW CHARACTER OF ROGER PHILLIPS (TED McGINLEY ) AS THE
NEW BASKETBALL COACH.
THE WRITERS AND PRODUCERS COULD HAVE HAD BOTH CHUCK CUNNINGHAM AND ROGER PHILLIPS ON HAPPY DAYS AT THE
SAME TIME BY MAKING CHUCK CUNNINGHAM 2 RANDOLPH ROBERTS THE ASSISTANT BASKETBALL COACH TO HEAD COACH ROGER PHILLIPS TED MCGINLEY. I ALSO WISH THAT THE
HAPPY DAYS CHARACTERS OF
BAG ZOMBROSKI (NEIL J. SCHWARTZ) MOOSE (BARRY
GREENBERG ) EUGENE BELVIN
(DENIS MANDEL ) MELVIN BELVIN
(SCOTT BERNSTEIN) MARSHA SIMMS (BEATRICE COLEN ) AND WENDY (MISTY ROWE) HAD NOT ALL VANISHED FROM HAPPY DAYS WITH NO EXPLANTION INTO THIN
AIR EXACTLY LIKE RICHIES OLDER BROTHER CHUCK CUNNINGHAM DISAPPEARED INTO THIN AIR WITH NO EXPLANATION.
GARRY MARSHALL SAID THAT HE WAS GOING TO HAVE CHUCK CUNNINGHAM VANISH AND WE ARE NOT GOING TO SAYNWHST HAPPENED TO CHUCK AND SEE HOW MUCH MAIL.WE GOT.WE DIDNT GET MUCH MAIL.
GARRY MARSHALL DID INVITE TWO SPECIAL GUESTS TO THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY SHOW OF HAPPY DAYS WHEN GARRY MARSHALL INVITED BOTH GAVAN O'HERLIHY AND RANDOLPH ROBERTS TO BE SPECIAL GUESTS ON THE 30THANNOVERSARY SHOW OF HAPPY DAYS.
ANOTHER FUNNY EPISODE OF HAPPY DAYS WAS CRUISIN' FROM SESSON 2 OF HAPPY DAYS WHERE RICHIE POTSIE AND RALPH MAKE A BET WITH BAG ON WHO CAN COME UP FIRST EITH A DATE AND THE LOSERS OF THE BET HAD TO RUN THROUGH ARNOLDS DRIVE IN IN THEIR UNDERWEAR AND RICHIE POTSIE AND RALPH LOST THE BET SO THEY HAD TO RUN THROUGH ARNOLDS IN THEIR UNDERWEAR.
LATER BAG TELLS RICHIE POTSIE AND RALPH THAT MARY ANN McCARTHY TURNED HIM DOWN SO BAG ALSO LOST THE BET AND THEN RICHIE POTSIE AND RALPH CARRY BAG THROUGH ARNOLDS DRIVE IN IN HIS UNDERWEAR WITH
PERSONS IN ARNOLDS DRIVE IN
LAUGHING AT BAG.MAUREEN MCCORMICK MARCIA BRADY ON THE BRADY BUNCH PLAYED HILDIE IN THE HAPPY DAYS EPISODE CRUISIN' AND MICHAEL LEMBECK
PLAYED DENNY DOOLEY.
ALSO I NOTICED THAT WHEN RANDOLPH ROBERTS PLAYED CHUCK CUNNINGHAM ON HAPPY
DAYS THAT RANDOLPH ROBERTS HAD MUCH MORE AIR TIME ON THE HAPPY DAYS EPISODES THAN GAVAN O'HERLIHY HAD ON THE EPISODES OF HAPPY DAYS.
MOOSE PLAYED BY BARRY GREENBERG ONLY APPEARED IN 3 EPISODES ONLY IN SEASON ONE OF HAPPY DAYS AND MOOSE NEVER EVEN GOT TO TALK ON
HAPPY DAYS. BUT AT LEAST MOOSE GOT TO DANCE WITH A GIRL PLAYED BY CAREY WILLIAMS IN THE EPILOG OF GUESS WHOS COMING TO VISIT. EUGENE BELVIN (DENIS
MANDEL ) LIKED JENNY PICCALO
(CATHY SILVERS) ON HAPPY DAYS AND MELVIN BELVIN (SCOTT BERNSTEIN ) LIKED KC CUNNINGHAM PLAYED BY
CRYSTAL BERNARD.
b 19 months ago
So according to many online sources, "Friends and Lovers / Sergeant Bull / Miss Mother" Love Boat episode was first aired on October 25th, 1980. Bosom Buddies was also in 1980; first airing on November 27th of that year (A month later). A pilot had to be made for the sit-com BB before the show would air. If it got the OK then the first episode would be made etc. Someone probably saw the pilot or knew Tom was going to have the right something to do the job. So to see how people would react to Tom playing on a TV show, they put him on the Love Boat episode first as a test for him and the producers of BB. It must have been good enough to keep him on as one of the BB actors. If we knew the thought process of each show's producers, it would be more clear. Maybe it was a promo to get people to see Tom before next month's BB premier episode since it had to be in the can already. One month difference between the two episodes.
richardkel b 19 months ago
I also remembered Bosom Buddies. It was very funny, and I don't know why it only lasted for a couple of seasons. I thought that this was Tom Hanks first television role. It was very close. Anyway, it was clear early on that he had "the right stuff" and was destined for great things.
Pacificsun b 19 months ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Tom_Hanks_performances

The timing "listed" is close enough although in the "narrative" of his film/TV credits of the wiki link above, lists, but doesn't describe the Love Boat appearance. Small incidental, but the appearance on Love Boat TV doesn't necessarily represent when it was made (shot): In contributing to an actor's popularity/recognition (or "Q" factor, meaning how does the actor come across to an audience) according to this link [[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Q_Score#:~:text=The%20Q%20Score%20(popularly%20known,are%20aware%20of%20the%20subject.]] depends on the Show itself, and is developed over time. Individual Shows (though unlikely for just a LB guest appearance) are tested by "focus groups" where comments are analyzed through specific references. An actor does gain visibility (aka opportunity) through casting agencies, existing film, and professional recognition (word of mouth) regarding other forms of entertainment-appearances. In simple terms, it's about building a consistent track record for a 𝒄𝒐𝒎𝒃𝒊𝒏𝒂𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏of reasons. Getting cast on a memorable sitcom is the most obvious method to (at least) earn "familiarity." TH's resume is so extensive, including achievements and contributions, it's easy to understand why the (very appreciated) story above was distilled down to the mention of "Love Boat."
cperrynaples b 19 months ago
Yeah, it's clear that Bosom Buddies got him the role on The Love Boat! Fun Fact: His first movie was a forgetable slasher film called He Knows You're Alone! And no he was neither the killer or a victim!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 19 months ago
🎃 Agree. If only for the reason that Love Boat didn't usually (if ever?) cast an unknown actor. And theater work alone wouldn't be enough because they were aiming to please a television audience.
HerbF b 17 months ago
The BB pilot would have been shot late Winter-Early spring, 1980 - before The Actor's Strike...which delayed ALL network shows - it's more than likely BB was picked up by the point THE LOVE BOAT was able to film, but due to he strike, they didn't not sync up right - it's likely THE LOVE BOAT appearance was supposed to air AFTER BB premiered.

Funny enough the Writers Strike also hit in 1981 ,which delayed and shortened BB's second season.
Barry22 19 months ago
Didn't he also do an episode of Happy Days?
cperrynaples Barry22 19 months ago
Yes and also Family Ties!
bagandwallyfan52 Barry22 19 months ago
See the Happy Days VIDEO above Tom HANKS VS FONZIE.
BenSobeleone Barry22 17 months ago
He also appeared on an episode of Taxi.
Catgirl48 19 months ago
Tom Hanks is a great actor. He starred in so many terrific movies. Apollo 13, You've Got Mail,
too many to mention
Andybandit 19 months ago
I like Tom Hanks. He is a good actor.
Michael 19 months ago
Maybe forty years ago, I remembera story where the Pacific Princess or maybe a sister ship, rescued some Greenpeace people. But nothing shows. And I can't remember details.

Bob Cummings was doing press in 1978 when Pamela Sue Martin was one of the celebrities out on the ice against the seal hunt. Bob had great stories
LoveMETV22 Michael 19 months ago
Don't see anything with a search for forty years ago or Greenpeace. However there are several articles about " The Pacific Princess " rescuing 3 fisherman in the North Sea back in 2018.
Michael 19 months ago
I thought the opening credits were for the stars, all those actors known for other things.

If it was Tom Hanks first role, how did he get there?
Zip Michael 19 months ago
Good question. Unless it said, "And introducing... Tom Hanks." but that doesn't seem to be the case.
LoveMETV22 Michael 19 months ago
It was his first television role. Although the premise of the show featured well known celebrities, it probably wasn't etched in stone. As the show ran for nearly a decade there may have been other individuals in that category as well. Maybe it was luck? Would make an interesting snippet in future stories about Tom Hanks if there is information on how he landed the role on TLB.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 19 months ago
File: A good story
Index: Love Boat taught Tom Hanks to say "No" to a role."

Knowing your good humor, you might enjoy this story.

🎃

https://www.slashfilm.com/1014785/love-boat-taught-tom-hanks-how-to-say-no-to-a-role/
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