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TODAY   |  October 23, 2013

Gavin Macleod: Critics hated ‘Love Boat’

The actor who played the famous Captain Stubing of the hit TV show “The Love Boat” tells TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie about his time shooting the TV series and the moment when he knew it would be a hit.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> attention, your captain is speaking. captain stubing that is. for nine seasons gavin macleod captured the hearts of viewers on the beloved show "the love boat ." [ music playing ]

>>> as far as cruises go, this one, for one hour every saturday night, couldn't be beat. the only requirement, set a course for adventure and your mind on a new romance. your fearless crew, doc, julie, and isaac would keep you laughing.

>> here's a list of people you might think of inviting.

>> and who knew which 80s stars would be on the promenade.

>> and no trip was complete without a trip to the captain's table. under captain stubing it was always sunny skies and smooth sailing. but was everything really so lovely aboard the love boat ? gavin macleod . good morning.

>> thank you, thank you.

>> i feel i have been waiting my whole life to meet you.

>> i could say the same thing.

>> i was going to say, you know, when i was a kid, the love boat was my favorite show although i don't think my parents allowed me to watch it. somehow i saw every single episode, though.

>> that's why you're so successful today. but it was a wonderful thing, you know? it was the first time any show was done like that on the water with a cruise line with three different kinds of stories and these huge guest stars . the thing that was so great about it, i think, is that the critics hated it. they said this is going to sink like the titanic so about four years later we were in 90 countries. we started a cruise industry and gave rebirth to the cruise industry.

>> even your own agent when he first got the script had colorful language for it.

>> i said what do you think about it? he read it before i did. he said i think it sucks but do you want to read it? i said sure so i said i don't think there's ever been anything on television like this and my wife looked at it and she came out after ten pages and she said if you get the right people, put it on the right time, this is going to go.

>> and to go back in time, this was not a period of time when cruising was very popular. you write about in the book that people who then went on cruises would write complaint letters to you.

>> yeah, i would get those too. they thought i was a real captain. people would come on looking for me and doc and everyone else. they had to get off at the next stop.

>> before the love boat you were on mary tyler moore . and this book chronicles your whole life. a supporting character in the story is your hair or lack there of. when you were a young actor you were worried this would prevent you from getting parts.

>> that's why i had to get a hairpiece when i came to new york. i got a job at radio city music hall and i had to get a hairpiece. my roommate had to loan me some of the money, is a second hand hairpiece.

>> is that the piece.

>> $125. and that belonged to somebody else first.

>> well times for tight. you didn't have a lot of money.

>> right.

>> you would window shop and you had your eye on one particular luxury item.

>> well, i was living on central park west . inside under 74th street. worked at the music hall and i would walk down and walk home every day because i couldn't afford $34 a week to take a bus or anything but i would always pass on 6th avenue a men's shop and i stopped every single time in front of that window. they always had a fruit of the loom underwear display. it was 69 cents a pair.

>> you wanted them?

>> i couldn't afford it but i used to look at that and say some day i'm going to get you and now i go in and buy a six pack just like that. that's really making it.

>> gavin we hear your whole story. there are highs. there are lows. it's a wonderful chronicle. when you look back on that time today and everything you have been through, how do you reflect on it?

>> i'm grateful. i'm grateful i went through the hard times , the difficult times and good times and the best times are happening now. these are the best -- i'm 82 years old. this is the best time of my life .

>> i can't believe you're 82 years old. i want to see i.d. because you look like the captain stubing i remember.

>> thank you, that's because your parents wouldn't let you watch, really.

>> two final important questions. number one, why was doc so appealing to the ladies? i always wondered what was it that he had that made him such a lady's man on the show?

>> i think you'll have to ask bernie.

>> okay. because i have always been curious about that.

>> i wondered myself.

>> he seems to have a gift with the ladies.

>> especially as a character. they had great scenes together. he was pinching himself every single day at work. he's such a great guy.

>> and finally, this might have been the reason my parents didn't want me to watch it. there was an endless stream of guest stars . a lot of 70s hook ups. casual hook ups. is there somebody that was a best kisser that you kissed on the love boat .

>> joan collins .

>> really?

>> yeah, she played elizabeth taylor kind of character. she came on the show and had eyes for the doctor and she was gorgeous and wonderful. she had written a book. i went down and helped her that night with her first book being published and everything. my wife is the best kisser, though.

>> there you go. we'll leave it at that. captain stubing, gavin macleod . nice to see you.