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The Love Boat helped Bernie Kopell wash away his previous roles

Before The Love Boat set sail in 1977, Bernie Kopell was one of the most notorious recurring character actors in Hollywood. In the world of television, Kopell was never the leading man. He had a long resume of short roles in a variety of TV series.

Although his name never went up in lights, it wasn't so dim either.

Before his role as Adam 'Doc' Bricker in ABC's The Love Boat, Kopell had roles in Get Smart, That Girl, Bewitched, The Doris Day Show, and My Favorite Martian. 

He also landed a regular role in both When Things Were Rotten and Needles and Pins, a pair of super bombs that only lasted a couple of episodes rather than a couple of seasons. 

The Love Boat was his first and only chance at becoming a leading man... and a ladies' man.

"I couldn't believe I'd finally be playing a leading man type after all those years of wild-eyed characters," Kopell said in a 1981 interview with The Tampa Tribune. "When The Love Boat comes full cycle and, as all shows must, leave the air, I'd like to have the leading role in my own show. I can see taking the Bricker character and moving him to another setting."

Despite his success in The Love Boat, Kopell said he struggled to make a name for himself outside of the series. He had one of those faces that everyone seemed to recognize, but also a face that was hard to place.

"I've had my share of success and maybe more than my share of misses," Kopell said. "When you're in a bomb show, they will give you little rest because you smell of death."

According to the interview, Kopell wanted to work in feature films after his time on the series came to an end. He said it was more money for considerably less work. His first main priority? Make people remember his name.

"Before Love Boat, I was known in the industry," Kopell said. "People knew what I could do. But the public didn't have a clue to my identity. I was always hiding behind a mustache and a foreign accent. Now, thanks to Love Boat I have a big recognition factor going for me with viewers as Doc Bricker. I couldn't be happier."

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