‘Golden Girls’ Star Rue McClanahan Played Five Different Roles on ‘The Love Boat’

by Keeli Parkey

Before she became famous for playing the sassy Southern belle Blanche Devereaux on “The Golden Girls,” Rue McClanahan appeared as several different characters in another popular sitcom.

That sitcom was “The Love Boat.” And, McClanahan did not just play one role on that show – she played five. “The Love Boat” aired from 1977 until 1987 and had 250 episodes.

The show follows the crew and passengers of the famous cruise ship, “Pacific Princess,” on their adventures.

McClanahan First Appeared on ‘The Love Boat’ During Show’s Second Season

According to IMDb.com, McClanahan first appeared on “The Love Boat” in the 13th episode of the show’s second season. This episode was titled “El Kid/The Last Hundred Bucks/Isosceles Triangle.” In it, the actress played the character April Dunlevy. The character was the Pacific Princess to work on a business deal with a character played by Dabney Coleman.

The next time the famous actress from “The Golden Girls” appeared on the Pacific Princess was in the fourth season of “The Love Boat.” This episode was titled “The Family Plan/The Promoter/May the Best Man Win/Forever Engaged/The Judges: Part 1.”

It was the second episode of that season. It was then followed by “The Family Plan/The Promoter/May the Best Man Win/Forever Engaged/The Judges: Part 2.” In both of these episodes, Rue McClanahan played the character Mary Hubble.

The third character McClanahan played on “The Love Boat” was Doris Simpson. This character appeared in the fifth season episode “His Girls Friday/A Wife for Wilfred/The Girl Who Stood Still.” This was episode 18 of that season. In this episode, “The Golden Girls” actress plays a secretary who goes on a business trip with her boss.

Rue McClanahan’s next appearance on the show came in the 15th episode of its seventh season. This episode was titled “How Do I Love Thee?/No More Alimony/Authoress! Authoress!” In this episode, McClanahan played the character Laura Thornton Hayes. Hayes is a friend of Captain Merrill Stubing of the Pacific Princess.

The final appearance by the actress on “The Love Boat” came in the show’s eighth season. The episode was titled “Paying the Piper/Baby Sister/Help Wanted.” It was the 13th episode of that season. In it, McClanahan played Cheryl Enicker a character who wants to splurge after being in a very financially conservative marriage.

Before ‘The Golden Girls’ Rue McClanahan Also Appeared on Other Classic Television Shows

“The Love Boat” was not the only classic television show that “Golden Girls” star Rue McClanahan graced with her talent and hard work.

Her television filmography also includes appearances in “All in the Family” and its spinoff “Maude.” “Maude” famously starred Bea Arthur. McClanahan would go on to work with Arthur on “The Golden Girls.”

McClanahan also had roles on “Fantasy Island,” “Lou Grant,” “Newhart,” “Mama’s Family,” “Charles In Charge,” and “Murder She Wrote” before “The Golden Girls” became a hit.