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Bernie Kopell on Love Boat’s Oscar Winning Guest Stars

Bernie Kopell on Love Boat’s Oscar Winning Guest Stars

Bernie Kopell has had one of the most illustrious careers in TV history. He’s appeared on dozens of classic sitcoms including memorable regular supporting roles on Get Smart, The Doris Day Show, When Things Were Rotten, Needles and Pins, That Girl, and Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp.

Kopell is best known for the role of Dr. Adam Bricker on The Love Boat for 10 seasons beginning in 1977. In this interview with the Television Academy Foundation, he talks about the many Oscar winning actors that guest starred on the series.

Many classic television shows were based around boating, including the Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island.  Today, it’s common to find boats including in many broadcasted events. Valhalla Boatworks were featured on the recent Super Bowl boat parade that aired to millions on television.

Bernie Kopell

Bernie Kopell: “We had Academy award winners like you wouldn't believe. We had Ernie Borgnine, Marty. We had Eva Marie Saint, On the Waterfront. We had Shirley Jones, Elmer Gantry. We had Ray Milland, Lost Weekend; and we had Shelley Winters. We're going to the Mediterranean and Eva Marie Saint and Shirley Jones sitting in the first class, 747, giggling like school girls. ‘Oh, we're going to have a great adventure in the Mediterranean. It's going to be great.’ I was upstairs. They used to have this lounge upstairs, very opulent, and I hear some kind of a fuss down below. What is it? I come down the stairs. Shelley Winters is sitting in first class on the floor. What's the problem? She is unhappy with her seat in first class. It went on this way, disruptive, look at me, look at me, but very counterproductive.

“One day, we're on the Island of Capri, we have to come in. It gets to be very difficult for the crew and the cast to do something that's on a location because in Capri the dock was not large enough to accommodate our big ship. So we had to take all of our equipment and all of the actors and all the crew on tenders, these little, little ships, little boats, and take all of the equipment, take it to the Island, unload it, put it on trucks and take it to the location. Very difficult. Shelley winters, she gets to that and we have to be back on the ship at four o'clock. And there were paying passengers. Well, the ship has got to go.

“Shelley Winters doesn't like the way her hair is and she doesn't like the lines and she wants to change things. Ernie Borgnine, who had experience with her on Poseidon [Adventure], ripped into her with every Italian curse that no one in the world had ever heard of. I think that's what she was aiming for. But that was the one fly in the ointment that we had. But even Marie Saint was a dream throughout the whole thing. They had a magician on the ship. 'Okay, who'd like to be a volunteer?' Eva, she wanted to get into everything. ‘I volunteer.' 'What's your name?' 'Eva.' 'Where are you from?' 'From Hollywood.' Everybody in the world knew she was Eva Marie Saint, great star, Academy award winner, but the magician. So she would help with these field tricks and afterwards, 'Let's hear it from Eva from Hollywood, yay!' They give a big applause and the guy thought, 'I'm doing so well, I should ask for more money. This is really great.'

“Another day, we were outside of the Parthenon in Greece and setting up. I was studying for a play that I was going to be doing when we got off. So I'm reading the play, same play, and I said, 'Bernie, what are you doing?' I look up. Eva Marie Saint. I said, well, I'm studying for this play that I'm going to be doing when we got back. She said, 'Would you like me to cue you?' I said, 'Oh, no, I couldn't. I couldn't. You're an Academy award winner.’ She said, 'No, I do it for all my friends.' I said, 'Really?' She said, 'Yes,' and she cued me. Eva Marie Saint! And I was thinking, 'Boy, did she cue… did she cue Marlon Brando when they did On the Waterfront?' She was that kind of a giving person.

“Shirley Jones were sitting on the Island of Mykonos. It's a lunch thing and we're sitting and rehearsing our scenes and there was about 50 Greek extras. There are squid hanging on wires all around the place. All of a sudden, Shirley starts giggling. 'Shirley, come on. You're an Academy award winner. You're a pro. Straighten up.' She said, 'I can't help it. We're here in Mykonos and all these nice people are on and the squid is hanging down and we're being paid.' They said, 'Shirley, come on.' She was a makeup repair. So they were doing her mascara. She was and is, she's a dear friend now. Shirley Jones, just so, that's a natural human being. Great friend. She just broke her hip into three places, but different personalities.

“Ray Milland? Oh, Ray Milland. ‘American Night’ comes and they're serving the turkey with a traditional breasts up and up till then he'd been this sedate British shirt talking about this and that, and that and this, and so forth and so forth. They put the turkey on him and he said, English language. He said, 'They continue to ruin the turkey deferring to that insane Norman Rockwell picture with the breasts up and drying out the damn turkey.' He said, 'Turn the damn thing upside down in the last hour and baste it.' Ever since then, I've been doing it exactly that way. You season, you flavor you like, but in the last half of the cooking, you turn it upside down with the breasts down and you baste it and the breast is moist. If you like a moist breast.

“We had Charo who is brilliant comedian. She goes from doing her cuchi-cuchi stuff and great malapropisms and then they bring out a guitar and she is a prize-winning flamenco guitarist. Prize-winning. She's astonishing on the guitar and she's a great friend. She was pregnant with little Shell. Her husband's name, when she was married to Xavier Cugat. This was a marriage of convenience, you might say. But when she said, 'I'm in love with,' she didn't say it so anyone would understand what she's saying with that accent. She said, 'I'm in love with this Swedish guy, Shell, who spelled his name K-J-E-L-L. The son's name is Shell, like Shell gasoline. They simplified it. With Xavier Cugat's blessing, she married Kjell and she was pregnant with Shell, the right way to spell it, during the show. The cuchi-cuchi girl. She was very much a part of the beginning days of Love Boat.

“We had some really, and Tom Hank. Tom Hanks, whose films universally have grossed over $40 billion. He comes on the ship after bosom buddies and he's a college friend of Gopher. He, 'Hey, Gopher!' So he was on our show.

“Kathy Bates was on our show and she won the Academy award also. You never knew who was going to show up and it was great, great fun.”

Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp starring Bernie Kopell:


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Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman starring Louise Lasser is a 1976 syndicated soap opera parody produced by Norman Lear (All in the Family), directed by Joan Darling. The series was written by Gail Parent and Ann Marcus.



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