Jeraldine Saunders, author of the 1974 book “The Love Boats” that inspired the classic ABC series “The Love Boat,” died on Monday at her home in Glendale, Calif., due to complications from kidney stone surgery. She was 96.
The book is Saunders’ firsthand account as the first female cruise director for a major cruise line, Princess Cruises. The series, developed by W.L. Baumes, was billed as “Suggested by Jeraldine Saunders’ ‘The Love Boats” in the show’s opening credit sequence.
“The Love Boat” bowed on ABC in the 1976-1977 season as three TV movies. The show became a regular weekly series on ABC in the 1977-1978 season and ran for some 250 episodes, through the 1985-86 season. A handful of new “Love Boat” specials also aired on ABC the following season.
At the time of her death, Saunders was the daily writer of Omarr’s Astrological Forecast, Tribune Media’s syndicated astrology column. She was also negotiating plans for a Broadway production of “Love Boat, the Musical,” and penning another book to follow “The Love Boats,” about what she saw and experienced at each port of call while cruising the high seas. The second edition of her bestselling book “Hypoglycemia: The Disease Your Doctor Won’t Treat,” which she dedicated to her daughter who died of the disease in 1970, was also underway.
In 2018, she received the Southern California Motion Picture Council’s lifetime achievement award, presented to her by actor and “Love Boat” series star Bernie Kopell, along with her friend and Oscar-winning actress Margaret O’Brien. In May, “The Love Boat” was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“Jeraldine was so happy this year and was basking in the limelight of the celebrations of her 40th anniversary of her TV deal and the first episodes of ‘Love Boat,'” said her spokesperson Edward Lozzi. “She was a terrific, grateful, class act who refused to grow old. She was indomitable. She broke the gender barrier in a major industry, the cruise lines. Jeraldine was an active woman who never lost her interest in dancing, younger men, and the written word.”