When a captain talks, people listen. Even if it's just a TV show ship captain.
Gavin MacLeod, who played Capt. Merrill Stubing on "The Love Boat," now cruises through life as an ambassador for Princess Cruises. Last weekend, he was at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale welcoming the new Royal Princess to U.S. waters, after it sailed the Mediterranean this summer.
MacLeod, 82, also docked his autobiography at bookstores on Oct. 22. In "This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith & Life" ($22.99, Thomas Nelson), he steers readers to his days of trying to break onto Broadway and TV while surviving on buttered rolls, hot dogs and "ketchup soup." He faced rough waters, with depression, alcoholism and divorce — before anchoring his life with Christianity.
We had a few minutes with him and sailed right into the questions.
Q: Why'd you do the book?
A: As I told my wife, all my living has been based on what other people have written. Now it's about time I wrote something. So I can have my voice out there, so they can hear how I talk.
I hope it can help others, how I overcame and never gave up. There are so many lessons in life, patience, perseverance, forgiveness … that's major one. So here I am, 82, doing the rounds in New York.
Q: Now you're with Princess Cruises?
A: It's a marriage made in heaven. This will be their 17th ship. They used to have two.
Q: You ever been down here before?
A: I played the Parker Playhouse [in Fort Lauderdale in 1998], "Moon over Buffalo." I remember on Christmas, the only restaurant open was Chinese, and it was packed.
Q: What did the role of Capt. Stubing do for you?
A: It was great for me, but it also launched an entire industry. The ordinary guy didn't think he could go on a cruise until that show. The critics called it "mindless" TV, but we were always in the Top 10, especially in the winter when it was freezing up North, and they'd see the girls in the bikinis hanging around the pool. Our boss [Aaron Spelling] knew what he was doing.
Q: He's the one who saw you on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as Murray and cast you in "The Love Boat."
A: It was great. People were saying, "Hey, Murray got promoted!"
Q: In family shows, the big brother is the big brother off-camera, too. When "The Love Boat" cast reunites, are you the captain?
A: I don't know, I'm the oldest. I will say they're very respectful.
Q: What would you say are the most memorable plots?
A: There was one with a hurricane, but there was this musical one with Ethel Merman, Ann Miller, Carol Channing, Della Reese and Cab Calloway. I was in actor's heaven.
Q: How did it turn out?
A: Everyone loved it, but a critic wrote, "When Gavin MacLeod did his number, they should have torpedoed the ship." Fred Grandy (Gopher) got really upset, but I said, "Forget about it. We're traveling all over the world, first-class, and making a living doing it."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun