If you’re a fan of 1970s sitcoms, you would most likely recognize Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy from The Love Boat. This role was Tewes’ first major acting role, but can also considere the beginning of the end of her acting career. Join Facts Verse to discover what happened to Lauren Tewes after “The Love Boat” and why you don’t see her anymore.
Lauren Tewes as Julie McCoy
One day before production on “The Love Boat” began, Lauren Tewes. Who only 23 years old, chosen from a group of 100 actresses to play cruise director Julie McCoy. This was her big break, and it came at the perfect time. She was penniless just years earlier, struggling to make ends meet as a waitress. Her mother also died during this time, leaving Tewes entirely on her own. After getting cast as Julie McCoy, Tewes barely made it to set because of car troubles. She had no choice but to borrow money to make the necessary repairs and hope that the Love Boat would be a success. Of course, this risk paid off for her; as she then spent the next several years on one of the most popular shows on television.
The character was similar to writer Jeraldine Saunders, whose book Love Boats; released in 1974, was the main inspiration for the series. The author known for being the first woman to achieve the post of cruise director in the Princess Cruises group. And her book is a retelling of the stories she experienced while on the job.
The first episode of the Love Boat aired on May 5, 1977. And the show kept running on ABC’s weekly schedule until 1986. The TV show mostly set aboard the Pacific Princess; an actual ship that sailed for Princess Cruises between 1975 and 2002. However, filming occasionally also occurred aboard other ships, including the twin vessel Island Princess. Another ship that sailed for Princess Cruises.
The filming crew known to film cruise passengers as extras, and given the popularity of the series. Passengers very keen on taking cruises to get a chance to featured in “The Love Boat”. The popularity of the sitcom contributed immensely to the popularity of Princess Cruises. In fact, cruise tickets aboard the Pacific Princess and the Island Princess often sold for double their price. Sadly, both Pacific Princess and Island Princess destroyed, the first one in Turkey in 2013 and the second one in India in 2015, after no buyers came forward with interest in any of the ships.
Julie McCoy’s Secret Job on The Love Boat
While Lauren Tewes’ character was the cruise director, but she took on a very specific role that isn’t traditionally part of the job description. Of course, viewers will remember that Julie McCoy often seen helping people make social connections. In a recent interview, Tewes revealed that it was much more than helping people find love. In reality, Julie McCoy’s job was helping cruise guests find hook-ups. Although some people may remember the show being innocent, people upset with the show for exploring so many sexual relationships.
Ted Lange, who played the role of the ship’s bartender, echoed this idea. His job was to keep the drinks flowing so that guests could stay loose and follow through on the hook-ups arranged by Julie McCoy!
Still, this was part of the charm of The Love Boat. It’s known for having high-caliber guest appearances by some of the most recognized names on television. For example, one episode featured the beautiful Loretta Swit, known primarily as Hot Lips Houlihan from MASH. During the episode, she is married to a character played by Richard Mulligan, who is known as Burt from Soap. As if that’s not enough, the episode also features Robert Reed as the ex-husband; who is of course known as the one and only Mike Brady. The Love Boat was one of the only places on television you could see so many beloved actors, all hooking up on a fantastical and romantic cruise line. Many people agree that this is the show’s appeal, but unfortunately, it’s also what critics had an issue with.
Tewes’ Struggle Behind the Scenes
The growing popularity of the series led to massive fame for the Love Boat cast, most of all Lauren Tewes.
Unfortunately, this kind of fame often leads to substance abuse and other challenges, and the Love Boat cast was not exempt from this danger.
Lauren Tewes’ case was the first. When speaking about her experience, Tewes revealed that she was struggling behind the scenes while filming The Love Boat. She deals with an addiction to cocaine, a drug that presented to her right after she landed the role of Julie McCoy. She got peer pressured into trying it, which turned into an escalating drug addiction that affected her career. Specifically, she admitted that her substance abuse had an impact on her job and lowered her overall productivity. Tewes would sleep onset and, on many occasions, completely failed to show up for filming.
Tewes spent most of the money she made through her acting career on fueling her addiction. Eventually, Tewes realized that her situation was unsustainable and decided that it was time to get help. Sadly, this realization came a little too late.
After the 7th season of the Love Boat, Tewes fired and her contract not renewed. The producers couldn’t rely on her to perform. So, she replaced by actress Pat Klous, who played Judy McCoy, the younger sister of Lauren Tewes’ character.
Although Tewes takes responsibility for her actions and their consequences, she’s expressed issues with the narrative that followed her departure from the show. It wasn’t long before her addiction became publicly known, and even today, more than 35 years later, her image is still affected by her years of addiction.
Lauren Tewes After the Love Boat
When discussing the aftermath of the situation, Lauren Tewes acknowledges that we are more understanding of addiction today than we were years ago. She feels that she did not receive the sympathetic treatment that people would today. Instead of encouraging Tewes to seek help, the producers ignored her requests and kicked her off the show.
Tewes also revealed that she’s not the only cast member struggling with substances. She claims that there was lots of drug and alcohol abuse among the cast, especially during the late 70s. Even though she had reached out for help, she’s the only cast member fired with no opportunity to negotiate otherwise.
Fortunately, Tewes later recovered from her addiction and even returned to The Love Boat. Lauren made a guest appearance in 1985, as well as an appearance on the 1998 reunion episode in “The Love Boat: The Next Wave”.
She was able to land a few additional roles after the Love Boat. Lauren Tewes had a recurring role on the drama series “The Fugitive”, which ran on CBS between 2000 and 2001, and where she played the character of Linda Westershulte, a police detective. In 1985, Tewes also played Dot Bailey, one of the main characters in the pilot episode of “Anything for Love”. However, NBC did not pick up the pilot episode for a series. Lauren Tewes continued her career by doing some voice-over work for commercials and video games, and she enrolled as a student in a culinary school to become a cheese specialist. Nowadays, when she’s not partaking in her acting career, Lauren Tewes also has a job as a sous-chef for a catering company in Seattle.
It seems that her acting career is still somewhat tainted by her time on the Love Boat. Fortunately, she’s been able to stay busy and expand her career by pursuing other crafts. So while we may not see Lauren Tewes on camera much anymore, at least she has recovered and found other career opportunities.
Facts About Lauren Tewes
If you’re unaware of Lauren Tewes upbringing, it may shed some light on her later life experiences. Lauren Tewes was born in Braddock, Pennsylvania, on October 26, 1953, to Joanne and Joseph Robert Tewes. Her father was a wood pattern maker, and even though she spent her early childhood years in a town near Pittsburgh, her family moved to California when she was eight years old. She went to study at Rio Hondo College, where she majored in Theatre Arts. She later offered a scholarship and transferred to the University of California, Riverside. In 1973, following the termination of her scholarship, Lauren Tewes dropped out of college, and one year later, her career break happened when she landed the role of the main character in a Lipton Ice Tea advertisement.
This appearance was Lauren Tewes’ first acting job, kicking off her career. For several years, Tewes continued acting in commercials. Then, she leveled up to small parts in successful TV shows, including Charlie’s Angels, Vega$, Family, and Starsky and Hutch. Her appearance in Starsky and Hutch captured the attention of Aaron Spelling, the producer of the Love Boat. With this appearance, she was able to secure her largest role as Julie McCoy of The Love Boat. And we all know how it went after that!
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