The Love Boat gave Bernie Kopell an unexpected romantic image

He was the underdog of romance until he became the type everyone wanted.

There are many ways to succeed in Hollywood. Sometimes it helps to know someone in the industry; other times, it takes a whole lot of luck and a bunch of persistence.

The usual route to becoming a Hollywood star in the '70s went like this: Get lucky and get a part as the leading man or woman in a TV series, then transition to character work as you get older.

Not The Love Boat's Bernie Kopell, though. His story was a bit different.

Kopell started his career as a character actor in the '50s, where he would remain a character actor until The Love Boat came along and made Kopell into a leading man. Those series of events are typically reversed, but there Kopell was, sex appeal at 47.  

While referring to his Hollywood glow-up and newfound romantic image, Kopell said: "I've never known an evolution like this."

Kopell played the role of Doctor Adam Bricker, who was the doctor on the ABC series. Since the series premiere in 1977, Kopell would have many romantic encounters aboard the ship – something he was not used to before.

"I attribute my casting, on the one hand, to taking care of myself," Kopell said in a 1979 interview with The Ottawa Citizen. "But on the other level, which is probably more interesting in the universal sense of show business, the standards have dropped for leading men."

Kopell said a new type of leading man had started getting air-time. For Kopell, these men included: Richard Dreyfuss, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino and Gene Wilder. 

"I think the world of our business has become more realistic," Kopell said. "We don't just do fantasy trips about beautiful people, like Tyrone Power or Clark Gable. There's a realization that everyone, no matter what he looks like, is capable of romance."

Romance, of course, is what made The Love Boat float. There was romance everywhere; Under the stars, in the water, among the crew and guests. 

The Pacific Princess would be a terrible place to be right after a breakup.

Kopell said part of The Love Boat's appeal was that the series provided an escape for people who needed a break from the pollution in cities, breakups, inflation and politics. The other part of the appeal? Average-looking people who are caught up in multiple romances.

"People who enjoy the show the most are those who've never been on a cruise and never will go on a cruise," Kopell said. "This ship takes you away from your problems."

Kopell not only acted out the romance onscreen, but he and Fred Grandy (Gopher) had also written a few segments for the series. He said he and his character had a few parallels, and he attributes his success to his professionalism.

"The age of the rugged individual is over," Kopell said. "Show business is now a computer business and time is money... The point that I am making is that they don't put up with any nonsense. This is an age of professionalism."

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15 Comments

KaterTot 6 months ago
I guess now it makes more sense why Doc was portrayed as hot on the show
Runeshaper 6 months ago
Very interesting and insightful! I love Gene Wilder (-:
Andybandit 6 months ago
I love how Adam and Gopher compete for the same woman on TLB.
IndianaRockz Andybandit 6 months ago
Lol yes, for Adam & Gopher there were so many female passengers on The Lust Boat, & so little time!
IndianaRockz Andybandit 6 months ago
Lol yes, for Adam & Gopher there were so many female passengers on The Lust Boat, & so little time!
daDoctah 6 months ago
Earliest role I can remember seeing Kopell in was as the Mexican lawyer who drew up the divorce papers for Rob and Laura Petrie when Rob was in the army. After that, probably Ann Marie's neighbor Jerry (why are neighbors always named Jerry?) on "That Girl", or maybe the elderly apothecary on "Bewitched" whenever Dr Bombay would write a prescription for Samantha to have filled.
IndianaRockz daDoctah 6 months ago
He is one of my favorite character actors, good in any role. I especially get a kick out his role on Bewitched as that hot to trot apothecary. Can you believe he is 90 years young now? Hope he knows how his fans enjoy him!
Mblack 6 months ago
We never saw Sigfried's personal life.

Surely he saw romance on some of the other shows.
harlow1313 6 months ago
It was a cool time. Farrah posters for the fellows, and Bernie posters for the ladies!
LoveMETV22 harlow1313 6 months ago
" Kopell said a new type of leading man had started getting air-time. For Kopell, these men included: Richard Dreyfuss, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino and Gene Wilder. "
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I could see maybe an Al Pacino poster for the ladies. However a Bernie Kopell, or the others he mentioned is a bit of a stretch. LOL ( The others were still good actors though).
MrsPhilHarris LoveMETV22 6 months ago
I was thinking the same thing. 😂
Snickers 6 months ago
Really like Kopell's character Ziegfried on "Get Smart". Funny in the role and a great KAOS rival To Maxwell Smart Of CONTROL.
BrittReid Snickers 6 months ago
He could not have been better in Get Smart. Ziegfried and Starker.
Snickers BrittReid 6 months ago
Starker was a great sidekick for Ziegfried.
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