For 'Love Boat' star, life not all smooth sailing
FILE - This Oct. 15, 1982 file photo shows Gavin MacLeod, center, with actress Debbie Reynolds, right, and Marilyn Michaels as special guest stars on ABC's "Love Boat." Debbie Reynolds and Marilyn Michaels are dressed impersonating Zsa Zsa Gabor. (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, File)
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Gavin MacLeod's new autobiography recounts childhood poverty and loss, alcohol abuse and a brush with suicide, but the man and the book emerge as determinedly upbeat.
"Grateful" is employed frequently in conversation as the affable MacLeod reflects on life, his born-again Christian faith and the long acting career that included the major TV hits "Mary Tyler Moore" and "The Love Boat."
"That's a big word in my life," said MacLeod who, at 82, has endured two heart attacks yet still looks and sounds energetic enough to set sail. "I'm just so grateful I've had another day, another day, another day, and that my kids are doing so well."
"This is Your Captain Speaking," with a cover photo of MacLeod as Capt. Merrill Stubing in his sparkling white "Love Boat" uniform and smile to match, is a candid look at his ups and downs in love and as an actor, including his unexpected jump from second banana to leading man.
But he is almost invariably kind to the many stars he worked with over the years in film and TV, including Cary Grant and Robert Redford, and the parade of previous-generation performers who came aboard "The Love Boat," including Helen Hayes, Ethel Merman and Cab Calloway.
"The big stars are the best. I pinched myself every single day" heading to work on "Love Boat," MacLeod said, anticipating who would be on set "and the experiences we would have working together."
Then there's Bette Davis. She wasn't among those who boarded "Love Boat" during its 1977-87 cruise, but MacLeod's social encounter with her provides a memorable anecdote.
A mutual friend asked MacLeod and his wife to invite Davis, then in her 70s, to dinner, because the star wanted to meet him. No effort or expense was spared (Davis' drink of choice, Chivas Regal, and caviar were served), but the grande dame proceeded to quarrel with guests, insult her hosts and then pour salt on the wound with an interview in which she called the evening a "disaster."
This photo released by W Publishing Group shows the cover of the book, "This is Your Captain Speaking." The 82-year-old actor, Gavin MacLeod's autobiography will be released on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/W Publishing Group)
"She ripped us! I couldn't believe it," MacLeod says in the book (written with Mark Dagostino), which opens in a far different world.
MacLeod, born Allan See in 1931, was raised in the town of Pleasantville, N.Y. His Depression Era-childhood included poverty and a household roiled by his father's bouts of drinking and then death at age 39 from cancer.