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'The Love Boat' Cruise Director Says Show Was About 'Free Sex' (VIDEO)

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For millions of American households in the '70s and '80s, Saturday night meant one thing: tuning in to watch "The Love Boat" on television. With its amorous vacationers and humorous adventures, the various storylines aboard the Pacific Princess captivated audiences and led the sitcom toward the top of the ratings.

At the time, some of the stars of "The Love Boat" didn't fully grasp the show's popularity, as they explain during their reunion on "Oprah: Where Are They Now?"

"I don't think I knew how successful the show was until it was over," Lauren Tewes, who played cruise director Julie McCoy, says in the above video from the episode.

Part of the reason for that success, she speculates, was that the show provided the escape people craved. "At the time, nobody could afford to go on a cruise. Or they thought they couldn't," Tewes says. "[With "The Love Boat"], they were able to take a vacation every week."

A star-studded vacation, no less. "The Love Boat" often had famous guest stars appear on the episodes, from Betty White to Leslie Nielsen to Charo.

Now, nearly 30 years after the show's series finale, fondness for "The Love Boat" remains strong. Yet both Tewes and her costar Jill Whelan, who played the captain's daughter Vicki Stubing, say the public's perception of the show today may not be totally accurate.

"A lot of people remember the show in a whole different reality than it really was," Tewes says.

"I know!" Whelan agrees.

Tewes says she's quite amused by the shift in perspective. "They remember the sweet, lovey show," she says. "And I remember people giving us trouble for being all about sex and free sex. Because it was about free sex! [My character] Julie never actually had any, but she tried to hook people up three or four times in a cruise, if possible. I mean, that was her/my job."

"And I was getting them soused," says Ted Lange, better known as the ship's bartender, Isaac Washington. "So they could go do it."

"Yeah," Tewes says. "And it if didn't work out, Julie would find you another one!"

Tewes, Whelan and Lange appear on this weekend's premiere of "Oprah: Where Are They Now?" on Sunday, June 8, at 9 p.m. ET on OWN.

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Filed by Lisa Capretto