First broadcast on US television on 3rd March 1984, The Love Boat was Luise’s first acting performance, either on screen or off, for 19 years. By this time the series was one of the biggest shows in the US and was well-known for its casting of special guests, especially movie stars of yesteryear who made rare television appearances on the deck of the Pacific Princess (Click here for a list of guest stars). The series began in 1977 and ran until 1986; at its peak it was often paired with Fantasy Island and the two became known as ABC’s Saturday night ‘one-two punch’ such was their impact and popularity. Each episode had dual or triple storylines running concurrently, hence the rather cumbersome episode titles. The episode in which Luise appeared was The Lady and the Maid / Love is Blind / The Babymakers.
It was in 1982 when Luise was first approached to appear on the show by the producer Henry Colman, whom she met at the Governer’s Ball following her appearance at that year’s Academy Awards ceremony (she presented the award for Best Foreign Language Film, with Jack Valenti). Luise admitted she did not know what The Love Boat was but she was coaxed into accepting when he offered her a dual role, as twin sisters, one a maid and one a socialite who meet on board for the first time in 40 years. She was paired with another special guest, Don Ameche, making his third appearance on the series, another actor from the ‘golden age’ with whom she had not worked before (Ameche was a player at Twentieth Century Fox during the 1930s) and with whom her character was rekindling an old romance. Once aboard the mischievous sisters decide to swap places for a while and ‘Maggie’, the maid, falls for her sister’s suitor. Luise was 73 when she filmed her part and she was as determined as always to get it right; in an article by Bob Thomas published in1983, he reports that she complained about one scene which was “being played completely wrong. We’ll have to shoot it all over again,” only for Colman to persuade her otherwise.
So far, only seasons one and two of the series have been released commercially on DVD. Luise’s episode appeared in season seven and is currently not available.