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Tom Hanks' first television role came on 'The Love Boat.' Here's why the actor called it 'a big deal'

Guest stars were certainly plentiful on The Love Boat, the former ABC show that aired for nine seasons starting in 1977. 

Of course each guest appearance was featured with their own section of the opening credits, followed by your Love Boat crew. By seaon four, The Love Boat was already an established show that had a massive following, part of the reason it would go another five years. 

In the season four opener, a young man by the name of Tom Hanks got his first shot on the television screen as a guest aboard The Pacific Princess. Hanks is a powerhouse name in Hollywood today, thanks to his many major successful movies during the Nineties. Sleepless in SeattleForrest Gump, Apollo 13 and the voice of Woody from Toy Story all sent Hanks' career to another level. 

Before his major Hollywood stardom came a small role on The Love Boat.

"I was on it and for some reason I was cast as an old college fraternity buddy of Gopher who comes on and hits on Julie McCoy," Hanks said in a 2019 discussion with Variety.

The role of Rick Martin in the episode "Friends and Lovers / Sergeant Bull / Miss Mother" proved to be a pretty big deal for the eventual star. Hanks recalled what a feeling it was as production of the episode began.

"I drove through the main gates of 20th Century Fox where the set from Hello, Dolly was still set up," he said, before coming to the realization of what this part might mean for his career. 

"I went on stage 24 or 19 or something like that and I was on the freaking Love Boat," he exclaimed in the discussion with succesful actress Renee Zellweger. 

For Hanks, what transpired on The Love Boat was an incredible feeling, and the congratulations calls quickly followed. 

"My fifth grade teacher called me up and said 'I can't believe my eyes. Tom, you're on The Love Boat,'" Hanks said. "When it aired... I can't tell you what it meant to my world." 

Hanks added that a very special moment for his career became even more memorable because of the life memory he had with his then young son. 

"He was only like three or four," Hanks said. "At the end of The Love Boat, it shows it sailing away and the close credits. He started crying and I asked him, 'why are you crying?' and he said, 'cause you're going away on The Love Boat.'"

Hanks added the moment between he and his son was "very sweet." 

While Hanks' career took off not long after his one and only appearance on The Love Boat, there is no short-changing what that one episode did for him. 

"It was a big deal." 

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