Theodore William "Ted" Lange is an American actor, director, and screenwriter best known for his role as the bartender, Isaac Washington, in the 1970s TV series The Love Boat. Lange and Gavin MacLeod, who played his captain in the series, have remained close friends.
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Hi there. I'm Ted. You might remember me as Isaac the Bartender on "The Love Boat." Since that show, I've been a prolific playwright and TV director. My latest play, "The Journals of Osborne P. Anderson", is playing in Los Angeles through June 28th. You can learn more about the play here.
Victoria is assisting me over the phone today.
Update: If you're in Winston-Salem NC, or Charlotte, the play is going to be there the first week in August. Come to the festival, and you'll see "The Journals of Osborne P. Anderson" there. And if not, if you're in the LA area, stop in, we're playing through the end of June.
And I am bringing a play to Scotland, to the Fringe Festival, and it's called "Waitless," I'm directing it for the Fringe Festival in Scotland, and that will be there middle of August, so if you're in Scotland, come and say hello and say you saw it on reddit!
And thank you very much for taking the time to ask me a question!
Do you still keep in touch with your cast mates from The Love Boat?
Yes! And recently we christened the new "Love Boat" in Florida, the "Regal Princess," and we're going to all meet there and go on a cruise together in December!
It is a LOT of fun.
How annoying was Charo, I mean honestly? You can tell us.
To tell you the truth... Charo was a LOT of fun. Because she was very sexy off-camera, and she always knew how to make things sexy, so she was very fun to be around. She's over-the-top, absolutely. The guitar played against her being so crazy. When she played her guitar, it was refreshing, it was a nice balance, because it gave balance to who she was.
Hi Ted. Thank you for doing this AMA.
With such weight as being a possible catalyst for the Civil War, why don't you think these journals had gotten a great deal of attention before? They serve as such an important piece to the Civil War puzzle.
And were any of the play cast members required to read the journals? And if so, how much of it?
No, the actors were not required to read the journals. But they were required to research the character that they were playing. That entailed finding books that were written about the people, reading online, and the other thing about it is - I think this is a new play, and the longer the play runs, the more people will want to know about Harper's Ferry.
We just opened a month ago. So I think that since it's a new play, people have to learn about it, and so that's why we're doing this, so people will learn about it, ask about it, and maybe the play can come to their city.
Thanks or the answer -- and a reminder of the context. I find the goofiness so fascinating as a foil to our cynical times.
PS I will leave you with a funny....admittedly goofy AND cynical. My sister and I came up with alternative lyrics to the LB theme song because we were thinking of how really the show is about the crew falling in love in port after port and finding their loves....until a few episodes later. What a load of STDs on board! I don't remember it, but it was something like "Come aboard.....we're infecting you!"
Oh man, that's funny! I like that!
Are you still a fan of Deacon Dark?
OH MY GOODNESS, I totally forgot about that! I remember that, Hahahahaha! I'm getting old and forgetting all the stuff that we did! Sonny Bono, yes!
Yes, I am still a fan.
And as a matter of fact, Sonny Bono used to have a restaurant in LA, and he and I used to exchange recipes. I taught him a baked bean recipe that is really delicious, and it was so good, he didn't believe that I made it up, he thought I got it out of a cookbook, but I made it up.
I still cook it!
You take baked beans, you take bacon, you fry up some crisp bacon, crumble the bacon into the baked beans, you take green onions - you know, the long-stemmed ones- you cut those up, put those into the beans, and then you take wedges of cheese, cheddar cheese, and you put them in different spots in the pans with the beans and put it all in the oven.
Now when I told Sonny Bono to take wedges of cheese, he said "You got that out of a cookbook" and I said "Why would I get that out of a cookbook?" and he said "Because you wouldn't normally say 'wedges of cheese.'" And I said "Yes I would! Otherwise, how would you know how to cut it?!"
Hey how come the Love Boat never went to Fantasy Island?
edit: I know you weren't the Captain but where I come from the bartender always overrules.
"The Love Boat" did go to Fantasy Island with Loni Anderson! They did an episode in which her character started out on the Love Boat, and ended up on the Fantasy Island!
Where I come from, the bartender always overrules too - and that's what I told the captain!
What is your personal favorite episode of The Love Boat?
When I sang & danced with the Pointer Sisters. I sang & danced with them, and it was my favorite episode, because when I was in high school, I did plays with Anita Pointer, and then years later, we got to act together, so years later that was one of my favorite things.
who was your favorite guest on the Love Boat ?
My favorite guest on "The Love Boat..."
Was Ben Vereen!
He and I were actors together in New York when we first started out. And he would never do a "Love Boat" until I directed an episode, so we got a chance to work together, with me directing and him acting on the show!
I know it was just a cameo, but I really enjoyed the episode that you guested on Boy Meets World where Eric and Jack pretended they were in a Hawaiian chapter of the fraternity "Magnum Pi" - Did you have a good time working on this episode? How did they approach you guys to join the show for this?
Yes, I had a great time!
Me and Bernie Kopell did the show together! And it was fun because Bernie & I hadn't acted together in a long time. So it was fun to be in front of the camera together with Bernie. And they just called us up and asked us if we would be on it. They were fans of "The Love Boat." The executive producer just called us up! It was nice.
Isaac was a great character... when they let him be more than just an exposition ear for other guests' plot lines. I have two questions. Do you feel, at least as an actor, you have had to struggle or re-invent yourself to break away from the role that made you an icon?
Second question. As a kid I vividly remember a show that had you, Doc, and Gopher (terrible with actor names, I am sorry) as monsters... dracula, wolfman, etc... but heroes. Was that an episode of Love Boat, some short lived Saturday morning show, or just a dream I cannot forget?
Yes, there has been a struggle to break away. But that's why I do theater. Because theater has less restrictions than television or film. So one of the things I did was DRIVING MISS DAISY, on a national tour, and I did BILOXI BLUES, so theater helps me satisfy my creative urges when I can't do television or film. And that's why I write plays.
HA HA HA! That was "The Love Boat," a Halloween show! When Halloween rolled around, we'd become different monsters. Each year we'd pick a different one. I'd be Frankenstein one year, another year I was a rabbit. So that was just that episode.
My sister and I watch The Love Boat whenever we can. It is fun to think about humor in the 70s and 80s -- very different from humor today. No sarcasm, for one thing. But to modern eyes it looks goofy. What do you think the differences are? We're the 70s and early 80s really that goofy?
The answer is YES.
The 70's and 80's were that goofy.
And this goes to...comic tastes. Because our show was a little goofier than say, GOOD TIMES or ALL IN THE FAMILY.
They were all on the air at the same time, but it goes to comic tastes.
And so our producers were a little more goofy than say, Norman Lear, who was a little more political. He produced SANFORD & SONS, and ALL IN THE FAMILY, and GOOD TIMES.
But you had a range of comic tastes.
And ours, our comedy, was more of a broad-based taste and Norman Lear's was more specific. So it was kind of like, a taste of the times - those that liked a broader-based comedy versus more political humor.
It's the difference between going to see Lewis Black or Carrot Top. They're both comedians, but they're comedians in different veins.
Hi Ted. Thanks for being here. Do you collect anything? Is there a special something that interests you outside of Hollywood?
Yes. I collect old books. And the books that I collect Le Morte D'Arthur, the King Arthur books, and I collect mysteries by Walter Moseley, and I collect books written by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, he was a turn-of-the-century Black poet.
I also have a large Shakespeare reference library - a lot of books written about Shakespeare, and on Shakespeare!
Who is Osborne Anderson?
Osborne P. Anderson is the only person to survive and get away from the Harper's Ferry raid.
And then he wrote a book about it years later, about the raid at Harper's Ferry.
He was the only black guy to survive.
That's why I put his name in the title. So that people would start to know who he is. Everybody knows John Brown. Nobody knows that Osborne was with John Brown, and that John Brown didn't live, but Osborne survived the raid, and was able to write about it, and tell the true story behind what happened.
If you google "Osborne P. Anderson" you should be able to find the book that he wrote.
I loved you as a kid, by far my favorite character on Love Boat. As I have to ask a question, I'm gonna go with: Did you ever get to shack up with Julie?
Not on camera! But off-camera, we had a lot of fun.
What is something you've always really wanted to say but have never found a conversation suitable to say it in?
Something that I've always wanted to say? But I never had a conversation to say it in!
I'd say the one thing I would wanna say... is... August Wilson is the second greatest playwright! Ha ha ha!
You've done a bunch of directing for TV. How does directing differ from acting? Do you have a fav series that you have directed?
My favorite series that I directed is a show called "Dharma & Greg."
It differs in that you get to help actors in sitcoms - you get to help actors be funny. And sometimes, you take their sense of humor, and you add your sense of humor to a scene, and hopefully it comes out funny.
Did you enjoy working with Pat Morita?
YEAH. Pat Morita and I, we had a great comedy chemistry.
And he was a lot of fun to work with, and we just bounced off each other - we liked each other's sense of humor.
So it was easy to work with him.
Is the Love Boat theme song forever stuck in your head?
Every time I make a guest appearance on a talk show, it gets stuck in my head. I sing along with the melody, ha ha ha!
Jeez I must have missed that one. I probably missed quite a few, being 10. More often than not I was sent to bed before the boat came on. Sometimes, my parents would fall asleep and I'd be able to stay up and watch. Thanks for answering.
That's fantastic, I love it!
Does being an actor help with your directing?
Because I understand the process that an actor has to go through to achieve what he needs in a scene. And I can sometimes help an actor with suggestions, and how to achieve their goals.
Do you watch Game of Thrones?
ABSOLUTELY! Some of the best writing on television! And as a matter of fact, my son wants to be a writer, so we watch the show together, and then we talk about the writing.
One of my favorite lines from Game of Thrones - "Kill the boy, Jon Snow! Kill the boy, and let the man live!"
That was a great line. And anyone who watches the show - we broke down how they got to that line dramatically in the storytelling, and the effect of that line, what it meant for the character, Jon Snow.
Neat! So how did you first learn about him?
I saw a painting by an painter named Thomas Hovenben, and it's called "The Last Moments of John Brown."
It's a picture of John Brown kissing a black baby, that is being held up by a black slave-girl, just before he's going to be hung.
So that interested me, because it was such an odd painting.
And then I started doing research about John Brown & Harper's Ferry, and I found out that there were these black guys that nobody ever talked about.
And one of the black guys was Osborne Anderson.
And it was fascinating - 2 of the black guys died at Harper's Ferry. 2 of the black guys were hung with John Brown. And one got away.
So I wanted to examine the character of the one that got away. It really is an amazing story.
What's something before you were born that you would have liked to experience?
Something that happened before i was born that I would like to have experienced... I would've liked to have seen Jesse Owens in the Olympics win the race that he won. That was back in the 30's or 40's. The other thing I would have liked to have experienced is the first production of HAMLET in England. I would have liked to have seen the very first production of HAMLET with Shakespeare and an actor named Richard Burbrage.
If you had a choice between winning a boat or a mystery box, which one do you choose?
You can't go wrong with a boat!
HA HA HA!
I want to know what I'm getting! I don't want any surprises!
What's "The Journals Of Osborne P Anderson" about?
And what sort of drink would Isaac make for it?
The play is about Harper's Ferry in 1859, and there were 5 black guys with John Brown, and the play focuses on the 5 black guys and how they felt about freeing other slaves in 1859.
Yes. It would be a Mar-ga-rit-a.
What does your ideal breakfast consist of?
It consists of:
Thank you! To this day, that will always be one of my favorite episodes, you guys were great
WOW! Thank you!
Thank sounds awesome!
Oh great! Come and see the play, if you're in LA: http://www.theatreinla.com/the-journals-of-osborne-p-anderson/4948/
I read that you call yourself a "Footnote" historian. What does that mean?
What it means is in history, the African-American participation in historical events are usually referred to in the footnotes of a history book. What I want to do is take the footnotes, and put it on the page, so that people get a better understanding of the African-American participation in American history.
I write plays about little-known African-American heroes.
And after you see my play, you'll know more about the African-American participation in any particular historical event - like the Civil War, the American Revolution, or pre-Civil War events.
What is your average day like?
My average day, now, is going to the theater. I flip my day up. I'm working on a new project, so the mornings I spend on my new theater project I'm working on or directing TV. Then later in the afternoon, I will do things to promote the play, and in the evening, I will go to theater.