Jill Whelan was a ''nervous wreck'' when she became a regular on The Love Boat
She was the youngest crew member on The Love Boat. Jill Whelan, who portrayed the daughter of Captain Stubing (Gavin MacLeod), was only 11 when she started her role as Vicki. However, before she became a series regular, Whelan was hired by producer Aaron Spelling to appear in a 90-minute episode.
In an interview with St. Joseph News-Press, the then-teenaged actress spoke about how producers of the show would receive letters from fans asking about her. "After a while, the producers had gotten some letters about me being on the show, and then they asked me if I'd like to be a regular."
Prior to the main cast role, Whelan worked with Spelling on several productions, including a four-week series called Friends and a few Fantasy Island segments. The roles helped her establish a television reputation. Although she was excited about the new opportunity, joining a popular series that lived in the top ten ratings was nerve-racking for the young actress.
"I didn't know what to expect or how to act," Whelan said. "I remember the first day I came on; they were all very nice. I could sense that they were a little nervous about having a kid around, but they were all fantastic."
She added, "Of course, I was a nervous wreck. We sort of developed a chemistry together. Mr. Spelling had a lot of faith in me, which was a big help."
Viewers loved seeing Whelan on their television screens, and according to the article, her personality shined through the role. The actress even suggested a few story ideas to The Love Boat's writers.
"If I don't, they'll just forget Vicki's there," she said. "It's OK, though, because it gives you kind of a rest until you have a big show for yourself.
For Whelan, the series was a significant opportunity for her career to excel, and it did just that as The Love Boat grew in popularity.