the Love Boat was known for the famous guest stars it featured every week, but it was the regular cast members who provided a constant presence for both viewers and the ship’s special guests. One of those stars of The Love Boat was Bernie Kopell, who played Adam “Doc” Bricker—or, as he was more formally introduced in the credits, Your Ship’s Doctor. Kopell appeared in all 250 episodes of the series and three Love Boat movies, so, unsurprisingly, Doc is his most famous role.
That’s something Kopell has embraced, but he has taken on many, many more characters over the years. Now 88, the actor has reflected on his time on the classic show in many interviews. Read on to find out how he feels about the series and to learn about his family life and lengthy career.
Kopell already had a very successful career going long before the show premiered in 1977. The character actor had appeared in episodes of The Jack Benny Program, The Lucy Show, Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, among many others. He also had recurring roles on Get Smart, That Girl, and Bewitched.
Kopell’s career didn’t slow down after The Love Boat, and he still appeared on many popular shows. But, he was often asked to reprise or parody his Love Boat character. For instance, he played Doc on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Saturday Night Live, and Martin.
Some of Kopell’s recent roles include appearances on Superstore, Mom, and Silicon Valley. He also made a cameo as a boat captain in The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time and has acted in plays in recent years, as well.
In 2017, the main cast of The Love Boat appeared on Today together, and it was obvious that they were all still friendly with one another. In particular, Kopell and Ted Lange, who played Isaac the bartender, said that they often get together to watch fights.
In a more recent interview with Australia’s Studio 10 in August 2021, Kopell was asked about how the cast appeared to be so close. “Well, that’s acting,” he joked. “Of course. We were together for so many years, we had to like and love each other. But Gavin [MacLeod, who played the captain] and I were the old folks—I didn’t want to say old farts, because I wouldn’t say that.”
MacLeod died in May 2021, and Kopell said they were in touch until not long before his death. “Here, we get reruns on Sunday night and we’d talk about it. ‘This is what we were like 40 years ago,'” Kopell told Studio 10. He added of his co-star, “He lived to be 90 and he was kind and generous til the very end.”
Kopell has been married three times and has been wed to his current wife, Catrina Honadle, since 1997. They have two children, Adam and Josh. According to a Wall Street Journal interview with Kopell, Adam is named after his Love Boat character.
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In 2010, Kopell was asked by The Wall Street Journal if he would be interested in doing another Love Boat reunion. “Oh my dear, we’re a little long in the tooth for that,” he said. “If they asked me, of course I would. I love to work. I love to work. I say to myself, this is a privileged business. This is a great joy on a professional level, and I’m loving it. I’m just having a good time.”
Still, he understands why the show ended. Asked about why The Love Boat ended when it did by Studio 10, Kopell responded, “Dear boy, it went on for 13 years, that’s more than enough.” He also joked of his 60-year acting career, “It’s hard to believe, but when I look at my bank account, I believe it thoroughly!”