When Andy Warhol Guest-Starred on The Love Boat (1985)

On Fri­day, August 31, 1979, Andy Warhol records in his diary that he took a cab to Elaine’s to “meet the guy who might get me a guest appear­ance on The Love Boat.” But near­ly five years pass before he writes that the writ­ers are work­ing on his episode; with the shoot­ing dates set, “I start­ed to get scared, I don’t know if I can go through with it.” A cou­ple of months lat­er, as the appoint­ed time approach­es, he hears the plot: “There’s a girl on the boat named Mary with her hus­band, and she used to be a super­star of mine, and she doesn’t want her hus­band to know that she used to be ‘Mari­na Del Rey.’ And I just have a few lines, things like ‘Hel­lo, Mary.’ But one of the lines I have to say is some­thing like ‘Art is crass com­mer­cial­ism,’ which I don’t want to say.”

What­ev­er his objec­tions to the script, Warhol does­n’t seem to have been an espe­cial­ly dif­fi­cult par­tic­i­pant, of whom The Love Boat must have had more than a few in its 250 episodes. Dur­ing its run on ABC from 1977 to 1986, the series became an Amer­i­can pop-cul­tur­al phe­nom­e­non of a scale dif­fi­cult to com­pre­hend today. But as a con­nois­seur of Amer­i­can pop cul­ture, Warhol would have com­pre­hend­ed it ful­ly. By the time of his appear­ance in Octo­ber 1985, The Love Boat had entered its ninth sea­son, pre­sum­ably hun­gri­er than ever for atten­tion-grab­bing guest stars; on “his” episode, Warhol shares that billing with, among oth­ers, Mil­ton Berle, Hap­py Days’ Tom Bosley and Mar­i­on Ross, and Andy Grif­fith (who, Warhol notes, “seems bit­ter to be on The Love Boat”).

“If there was any space where painters and artists could brush shoul­ders with soap stars and teen idols, it was aboard the Pacif­ic Princess,” says MeTV. “In one episode ded­i­cat­ed to the fash­ion indus­try, design­ers Glo­ria Van­der­bilt, Geof­frey Beene and Hal­ston all came aboard.” Warhol’s com­ing aboard, then, “was both unex­pect­ed and some­how inevitable.” You can wit­ness this sur­pris­ing yet unsur­pris­ing cul­tur­al crossover in the video above, which con­tains just the scenes from Warhol’s sto­ry with­in the episode (which, like most Love Boat scripts, has three dif­fer­ent plot­lines). Even if it deliv­ers few pro­found insights into the nature of art, celebri­ty, and human aspi­ra­tion, it does cap­ture Warhol’s pres­ence as it seems real­ly to have been dur­ing his final years.

“My Stephen Sprouse jack­ets were there on the wardrobe rack,” Warhol writes in his diary dur­ing the shoot. “When I wear them, I think I final­ly look like peo­ple want Andy Warhol to look again.” That must have been true of the shiny sil­ver num­ber he wears in his first scene of the episode, when first he rolls up with his “entourage” to the ship’s recep­tion desk. “As we’re walk­ing off, the Love Boat girl asks Ray­mond St. Jacques, ‘How does an artist know when a paint­ing is real­ly suc­cess­ful?’ And he says, ‘When the check clears.’ ” But on one take “they did it wrong and it was bet­ter — she said, ‘When is a paint­ing real­ly fin­ished.’ ” Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that ver­sion of the line seems to have been a bit too Warho­lian for the Pacif­ic Princess.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

When Andy Warhol & Edie Sedg­wick, the First Cou­ple of Pop Art, Made an Odd Appear­ance on the Merv Grif­fin Show (1965)

Andy Warhol’s 15 Min­utes: Dis­cov­er the Post­mod­ern MTV Vari­ety Show That Made Warhol a Star in the Tele­vi­sion Age (1985–87)

Andy Warhol Hosts Frank Zap­pa on His Cable TV Show, and Lat­er Recalls, “I Hat­ed Him More Than Ever” After the Show

When Frank Zap­pa & Miles Davis Played a Drug Deal­er and a Pimp on Mia­mi Vice

Andy Warhol Eats a Burg­er King Whop­per, and We Watch … and Watch

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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