When I began research for this St. Valentine's Day post, I had intended to provide a review of The Love Boat, a television series (and five made-for-TV movies—did you know that? Stop lying) that aired in the 1970s and 80s and provided absolutely no inspiration for Bruise Cruise. (The review would not have been a positive one. One-note characters, recycled tropes, awkward editing, no torpedoes on the ships. This last one is a major oversight. Sloppy writing.)
But my research revealed this astonishing fact: actor Tom Bosley guest starred in five different episodes and played five different characters.
And nobody noticed.If you've ever wondered about the etymology of the term "pulling a Bosley," this is it. Tom Bosley established this variety of grift and got away with it. Genius. Bosley won the 1987 Nobel Prize for Cons, but the accompanying statue (a large lump of pyrite) was stolen from his car by Henry Winkler. Per the Code of the International Alliance of Con Men and Women, Winkler now owns it.
Winkler plans the heist.
To pull a Bosley, you must be able to Svengali your way into the mind of a casting director so that they cannot think of anyone or anything else upon being triggered by a certain keyword. Consider this nonfiction scene from a Hollywood office circa 1978:
Writer: "We have an angry, disenchanted character in this episode that gets on Gopher's nerves. It's a great role for—"
Casting director: "GET ME BOSLEY!"
Two years later. Same setting. Same people:
Writer: "We've written a quirky, lovable character for this episode. He's quite a dancer. We think the role should—"
Casting director: "GET ME BOSLEY!"
Later that night, in a restaurant:
Waiter: "It's served on a kaiser roll."
Casting director: "BOSLEY!"
The versatility of great character actors cannot be valued highly enough by a director, whether it's Philip Seymour Hoffman playing both Truman Capote and Art Howe or Dwayne Johnson playing his broad range of cartoonish muscle monster-men. But no one else has ever pulled a Bosley as hard as Tom Bosley did on The Love Boat.
Master of disguise.
- Harry Meachem (Season 5, episodes 22 and 23) is a recent divorcee on his first solo vacation.
- Herbert Chandler (S7E10) is a cantankerous jerk with a saintly personal nurse.
- George Hammond (S9E3) and his wife Mary (played by Marion Ross in a lazy casting choice—did they just happen to wander past the Happy Days studio?) spend the entire cruise dodging Andy Warhol. (Look it up.)
- Howard Pfister (TV special #4, 1987) is a who cares please just make this stop.
- Lt. Logan (TV special #5, 1990) is not pictured above because he didn't even warrant a first name in the credits, but Bosley bosleyed the hell out of the role.
Happy St. Bosleytine's Day!
P.S. Don't watch The Love Boat unless you want to be shocked at what passed for acceptable behavior in the 1970s. Did Princess Cruises even have an HR department?
Editor's note: Yes, Marion Ross played seven different characters on The Love Boat, including Captain Stubing's wife. But no one calls it "pulling a Ross," do they? Bosley totally scooped Ross on this one.
(How did everyone on the show pretend in subsequent episodes that Ross was no longer Mrs. Stubing, and had completely changed her identity? Six times!?)
Also, Alan Thicke played three different characters. It's possible that Hollywood faced a severe actor shortage in the 1970s and 80s and was forced to ration actors.
"Andy Warhol? Get off my boat, dude."