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'Love Boat' cruise director: 'The show was about free sex'

June 2, 2014 at 3:26 PM ET

It was called "The Love Boat," but cast members recall that the show's popularity had less to do with love than getting physical.

For Sunday's episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?," three prime members of "The Love Boat" cast gathered to reminisce about their days aboard the Pacific Princess. 

"I don't think I knew how successful the show was until it was over," Cynthia Lauren Tewes, who played cruise director Julie McCoy, said on the reunion show. When prompted by co-star Jill Whelan (captain's daughter Vicki Stubing) to explain the show's appeal, she had several thoughts.

IMAGE: The Love Boat
Courtesy Everett Collection
"The Love Boat" had a somewhat risque plot, cast members say.

"At the time nobody could afford to go on a cruise, or they thought they couldn't," Tewes said. "And so here, they were able to take a vacation every week. (And) a lot of people love seeing the guest stars. Especially the older guest stars."

Fans who look back fondly back on the Saturday-night staple, which ran from 1977 to 1986, may be forgetting some of the racier elements, however.

"Now people remember the show in a whole different reality than it really was," Tewes said, with Whelan agreeing. "Which I think is funny because they remember it being this sweet, lovey show — and I remember people giving us trouble for, you know, being all about sex and free sex. 'Cause it was about free sex. Julie never actually had any but she tried to hook people up three and four times a cruise if possible. I mean, that was her — my — job."

Bartender Isaac helped out in that regard, said Ted Lange, who played him. "Yeah, I was getting them soused so they could do it," he chimed in.

Tewes agreed: "And if (one relationship) didn't work out, Julie will find you another one."

Sunday's episode of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" also includes appearances by Charo, Dave Coulier of "Full House," and D.B. Sweeney. It airs at 9 p.m. on OWN.

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