Jeraldine Saunders, the longtime Glendale resident who wrote the book that inspired “The Love Boat” television series, recently returned from a cruise in Florida to celebrate 50 years of Princess Cruises, the company for which she worked years ago.
The event coincided with the 40th anniversary of Saunders’ book, “Love Boats,” an autobiography based on the years she spent as the world’s first female cruise director for Princess Cruises.
The celebration took place on the line’s newest ship, the Regal Princess, where Saunders mingled with the cast of “The Love Boat,” which aired from 1977 to 1987.
After a musical performance by Charo, Saunders, 91, signed copies of her book and people thanked her, sharing how they would spend their Saturday nights watching the show as a family.
“It was a celebration to end all celebrations,” Saunders said, who was introduced that night as “the patron saint of cruising.”
She returned to the Jewel City on Tuesday. “I still like to come back to Glendale,” she said.
She now regularly pens an astrology column that is syndicated in newspapers around the world, and enjoys spending time with 48-year-old Donaldo Monroy, whom she met when he was 19, but they didn’t establish a relationship until years later.
“He’s my gentleman friend and my man Friday,” she said.
Growing up in the area, she didn’t have any aspirations of becoming a writer.
In fact, an English teacher at her Tujunga elementary school didn’t like her handwriting.
“[And] they gave me an F in spelling. They made it a red F,” she recalled this week.
Saunders, who graduated from Glendale High in 1941, was hired on a cruise ship after working as a model for many years.
During her job interview for a hostess position on the ship, she fibbed about her expertise in speaking foreign languages, something that’s often looked for in new hires.
“Whatever they asked me, I told them I was excellent at it,” she said.
She would go on to spend 10 years on various ships, working seven days a week, 11 months a year.
“That’s why I had so much to write about when I wrote my autobiography,” she said of all the time she spent at sea. “I didn’t really know what the world was like until I got that job.”
Saunders jotted down her thoughts and observations in letters and on the backs of programs that she regularly mailed back to her family.
Her mother, who had saved all of her daughter’s notes, eventually sent them to a publisher in New York City.
“It was picked up, and I lived happily ever after,” Saunders said.