The Love Boat
“Because I'm an actor, I know how to tap into what works for another actor when I'm directing. On the first day, I just let the actors go. I let them make all their suggestions. They like that because so many directors hamstring them. And then, because I've done my homework on both the actor and the script, I'll say, 'Try this or that,' and they'll say, 'Wow! I should've thought of that!' By the end of the first day, I'm not ('Love Boat' bartender) Isaac Washington anymore. I'm the director and I've got them.” Ted Lange
American actor, director and writer Ted Lange is best recognized as Isaac Washington on the ABC sitcom “The Love Boat” (1977-1986), where he also directed and wrote several episodes. He also played regular roles in the short lived 1970s series “That's My Mama” and “Mr. T and Tina.” After the demise of “The Love Boat,” Lange appeared in various small films and guest starred in many television series, including “Scrubs,” “General Hospital” and “Psych.” He found a career revival on stage as a writer, director, actor and producer and some of the plays he directed and/or wrote include “Lemon Meringue Facade,” “Evil Legacy, The Story of Lucrezia Borgi,” “Big Daddy’s Barbecue” and “Born a Unicorn.” He also wrote and starred in the one man show “Behind the Mask: An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar.”
Lange was handed the Renaissance Man Theatre Award from the NAACP in Los Angeles and the Heroes and Legends HAL Lifetime Achievement Award. He also won the Oakland Ensemble Theatre’s Paul Robeson Award and the James Cagney Directing Fellow Scholarship Award from the American Film Institute.
Lange has been married to Sherryl Thompson since 1978. They have three kids.
Childhood and Family:
Ted Lange was born Theodore William Lange on January 5, 1948, in Oakland, California. His mother, Geraldine L Lange, was a personal secretary to a San Francisco mayor and public affairs director of KBHK-TV in San Francisco in the early 1970s. She also hosted her own television show on PBS in San Francisco, KQED. Ted attended Merritt Junior College in Oakland and San Francisco City College in San Francisco. He earned classical dramatic training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.
On July 23, 1978, Ted married Sherryl Thompson. They have two children, Ted IV and Turner Wallace Lange.
Behind the Mask: An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar
20 year old Ted Lange made his Broadway debut in the original production of the hit musical “Hair” (1968), alongside Ben Vereen, Keith Carradine, Barry McGuire, Meat Loaf, Kenny Seymour, Joe Butler, Peppy Castro, Robin McNamara, Heather MacRae, Eddie Rambeau, Vicki Sue Robinson, Beverly Bremers and Kim Milford, among other actors. He branched out to the big screen in 1972 when he played the supporting role of Melvin in “Trick Baby,” a movie directed by Larry Yust. Lange went on to appear in such films as the thriller “Blade” (1973, directed and co-written by Ernest Pintoff), the documentary “Wattstax” (1973, helmed by Mel Stuart) and the comedy “Black Belt Jones” (1974, directed by Robert Clouse). He also appeared in the television movie “Larry” (1974), which starred Frederic Forrest. His television series debut came when he was cast in “That's My Mama,” a situation comedy that appeared on ABC from September 1974 to December 1975. The series starred Clifton Davis and Theresa Merritt. A pilot for a revival series titled “That's My Mama Now” with Lange as the star, was produced in the late 1980s but failed to find a home.
After a role in “Friday Foster” (1975), a film written and directed by Arthur Marks that starred Pam Grier, Lange costarred with Pat Morita and Susan Blanchard in the short lived sitcom “Mr. T and Tina” (1976), a spin off of the series “Welcome Back, Kotter.” The actor quickly bounced back when he landed the coveted role of the ship's bartender, Isaac Washington, on the Aaron Spelling produced sitcom “The Love Boat,” opposite Gavin MacLeod, Bernie Kopell, Fred Grandy, Lauren Tewes, Jill Whelan and Ted McGinley. Premiering on ABC on September 24, 1977, the show was a hit and went on to run until the finale aired on May 24, 1986. Apart from acting, Lange also wrote and directed several episodes.
In addition to “The Love Boat,” Lange also appeared in episodes of “Fantasy Island” (1979), “Charlie's Angels” (1979) and “The Fall Guy” (1983), as well as the TV film “Christmas” (1986), where he played the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the feature film “Record City” (1978), which starred Ed Begley Jr. In 1977, Lange made his debut as a screenwriter when he co-wrote “Passing Through,” with director Larry Clark. The dramatic film starred Cora Lee Day and Marla Gibbs. He also directed episodes of “Fantasy Island” (1 episode, 1983), “Mike Hammer” (2 episodes, 1984) and “The Fall Guy” (3 episodes, 1983-1985).
After “The Love Boat,” Lange guest starred in various television series, including “227” (1988), “Bustin' Loose” (1988), “In the Heat of the Night” (1988), “Evening Shade” (1993), “Platypus Man” (1995), “Weird Science” (1996), “Martin” (1997), “Family Matters” (1997), “L.A. Heat” (1999), “The Hughleys” (2002), and “Scrubs” (2002), to mention a few. He also played Napoleon, opposite Charles Dunning as Santa and Beverly Rowland as Mrs. Santa, in the 1989 TV movie “It Nearly Wasn't Christmas.” Lange reprised his role of Isaac in a 1990 television spin off “The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage” (CBS) and in a 1998 episode of the second series “Love Boat: The Next Wave” called “Reunion.” He also directed two episodes of the series called “Divorce, Downbeat and Distemper” and “Blind Love” (both 1999). Other episodes of television series he directed include “Starman” (episode “Fathers and Sons,” 1987), “The Wayans Bros” (episode “Independence Day,” 1998), “Moesha” (6 episodes, 1996-2000), “Dharma & Greg” (episodes “Home Is Where the Art Is” and “The End of the Innocence: Part 1,” both 2001), “Eve” (episode “Friend or Foe,” 2004), and “All of Us” (episode “ Who Took the Merry Out of Christmas,” 2005).
Meanwhile on the wide screen, Lange starred in the film adaptation of Shakespeare's “Othello” (1989), which he also directed. He also worked with John Vernon and Joe Estevez in “Terminal Exposure” (1987), Steve Donmyer, Julia Nickson and Will Egan in “Glitch” (1988), Bruce Glover, Erica Gimpel and Vincent Schiavelli in “Penny Ante: The Motion Picture” (1990), Kathleen Bradley and Cheryl Francis Harrington in “Perfume” (1991), and Robert Caso and Kevin Schon in “The Naked Truth” (1993). He also appeared in “Sandman” (1998), “The Redemption” (2000), “Banana Moon” (2003), “Gang of Roses” (2003), “Uncle Tom's Apartment” (2006), “Last of the Romantics” (2007), “Carts” (2007), “The Adventures of Umbweki” (2009) and “Who Shot Mamba” (2009). He then directed Vincent Lee Alston, Grace Bydalek, John Beasley, Joyce Sylvester and Lindsay Seim in the dramatic film “For Love of Amy” (2009).
In addition to television, Lange has worked extensively on stage as a performer, playwright and director. Besides his Broadway debut in “Hair,” he has appeared in numerous other plays, including South Coast Repertory’s “Piano Lesson,” “Biloxi Blues,” and “Sunshine Boys,” and a national tour of “Driving Miss Daisy.” He also portrayed Petruchio in “Taming of the Shrew,” Bottom in “Midsummer’s Night Dream” and Othello in a stage version at the Inner City Cultural Center, which he directed. He also starred in other Shakespeare's plays like “King Henry VI,” “MacBeth” and “Romeo and Juliet” and performed in a successful one man show titled “Behind the Mask: An Evening with Paul Laurence Dunbar.”
Multitalented Lange has written seventeen plays, including “Four Queens, No Trump,” which opened to rave reviews in Los Angeles and Chicago and won a 1997 NAACP for Best Play, “Lemon Meringue Facade,” which received five nominations at the Valley Theatre Awards, “Soul Survivor,” “Evil Legacy, The Story of Lucretia,” which was nominated by LA Weekly for Best One-Woman Show, the rock ‘n roll musical “Born a Unicorn,” which he also produced and directed, and “George Washington's Boy.” Lange won the Artistic Director Achievement Award for Director of an Original Play for “Lemon Meringue Facade” and the Dramalogue Award in the category of Outstanding Directing for “The Visit.” He also directed performances of “Hamlet” (starred Glynn Turman), “Richard III,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” “Big Daddy’s Barbecue,” a one man show starring Jeff Wayne, and “Evil Legacy, The Story of Lucrezia Borgi,” among other plays.
Recently, in 2010, Lange contributed his voice to “Cleveland's Angels,” an episode of the animated series “The Cleveland Show.” He will play Raymond in the upcoming film “Phil Cobb's Dinner for Four” (2011), a dramatic comedy written and directed by Laurene Williams.
Dramalogue Award: Outstanding Directing, “The Visit”
Artistic Director Achievement Award, Director of an Original Play, “Lemon Meringue Facade”
NAACP: Renaissance Man Theatre Award
American Film Institute (AFI): the Oakland Ensemble Theatre’s Paul Robeson Award & James Cagney Directing Fellow Scholarship Award
Heroes and Legends HAL: Lifetime Achievement Award