Andy Warhol wasn’t just one of the most important artists of the 20th century, he was also an indispensable part of American popular culture. While he is still remembered as one of the pioneers of the pop art movement, Warhol’s artistic journey took him into different directions such as filmmaking and acting.
In his own directorial career, Warhol made some truly experimental films such as an eight-hour feature titled Empire which the artist described as an “anti-film” because it subverts all kinds of voyeuristic expectations. Ranging from a bizarre adaptation of A Clockwork Orange to invaluable contributions to New Queer Cinema, Warhol was a true visionary.
Although his cinematic adventures were highly conceptual and conducted reconfigurations of the cinematic medium, many of Warhol’s appearances in popular culture productions were far tamer. As a public figure, Warhol got a lot of opportunities and he ended up appearing on popular shows such as Saturday Night Live as well as advertisements and commercials.
For one such gig, he was asked to appear on an episode of the rom-com series The Love Boat. As the name suggests, the show explored all kinds of funny misadventures while focusing on the lives of the guests and the crew aboard a luxury cruise ship. Over the years, there were many iconic guest appearances on the show and Warhol’s stint is still remembered by many fans.
In addition to the TV shows that he created, his legacy in the world of television is defined by these strange but fascinating roles. On The Love Boat, Warhol stars as himself on the cruise ship while one of his actresses for his experimental films – a Midwestern wife (played by Marion Ross) – tries to hide her past from her husband.
When the memoirs of Warhol – The Andy Warhol Diaries – were posthumously published, his thoughts about the show became public knowledge. One entry read: “The Love Boat writers are working on my episode which is going to film on March thirtieth and I started to get scared, I don’t know if I can go through with it. The guy was really gay.”
In multiple entries, Warhol expressed his anxieties about the role: “I’m getting more nervous by the minute about being on The Love Boat. It turns out I’m going to be there for ten days.” He even had an objection to the screenwriting for his role: “One of the lines I have to say is something like ‘Art is crass commercialism,’ which I don’t want to say.”
Watch Andy Warhol on The Love Boat below.