Henry Colman, who died on Nov. 7 at age 89 in Los Angeles, began his career in network television when the medium was in its infancy, as an assistant to the director of Kraft Television Theatre in 1951. He went on to become an executive who had a hand in some of the most popular shows from the 1950s through the 1970s. Colman oversaw production of the pilot of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and worked on TV series as diverse as Green Acres, Dr. Kildare, Mannix and Hawaii 5-0 before helping develop The Love Boat, of which he eventually became producer. In a 2010 interview with the Archive of American Television, he shared of some of the more interesting tidbits about the show.
- Based on a tell-all. The inspiration for The Love Boat actually was a book: Jeraldine Saunders’ The Love Boats, which told of her experiences over a decade as a cruise director.
- Multiple captains. The pilot, filmed in 1976 as an ABC made-for-TV movie, featured a completely different cast from the series, with Ted Hamilton as the ship’s captain. It was only a “mild success,” Colman recalled. A second made-for-TV movie, aired in 1977, did a bit better, but the network still wasn’t happy with the replacement for Hamilton, Quinn Redeker. Eventually, Gavin McLeod, who had played news writer Murray Slaughter in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, was cast in the role, and managed to stick.
- Voyage to nowhere. The first two Love Boat movies were filmed on cruise ships that went to sea, but the third was shot on the Queen Mary, a decommissioned ship that had become a tourist attraction in the harbor of Long Beach, Calif. “All of us had to make sure that none of the angles showed the skyscapers,” Colman recalled.
- Lauren Tewes was a last-minute addition to the cast, literally. Two nights before production was to begin on the third movie, whose success led to the TV series, Colman was in his office, fretting that he still hadn’t been able to cast someone for the role of the cruise director. Lead producer Aaron Spelling’s wife Candy stopped by, and offered that she’d seen “a girl” in a small role in a TV series who would be perfect. Mrs. Spelling didn’t remember the actress’s name, only the part she had played. Nevertheless, Colman tracked down Lauren Tewes, rushed her to the studio and signed her. She began work the next morning and turned out to be “a big part” of the sitcom’s success.
- Gavin McLeod had to be talked into the role. Even after taking a meeting at Aaron Spelling’s home and reading the script, McLeod wasn’t convinced that he wanted to be in the production. “I think he was used to the more sophisticated style of comedy from Mary Tyler Moore,” Colman recalled. Eventually, though, he warmed to the “nice” humor that characterized The Love Boat, and his likability was an important factor in the show’s success.