MICHAEL L. GRACE and CRUISING THE PAST…
During the mid-80s, Michael Grace was a writer on the TV Series THE LOVE BOAT. He wrote many of the two hour special featuring great stars of the past, including Lana Turner, Claire Trevor, Anne Baxter, Ethel Merman, Alexis Smith, etc. The public’s access to these stars, in familiar dramas and comedies, made them want to go on a cruise. They could see the stars in an ordinary world as “regular” people. The phenomenally successful series was responsible for creating the cruise industry as we know it today. It was a ten year info commercial reaching planet. Much of it was over-the-top fantasy but it has to be one of the greatest selling tools or all time. Without Love Boat, there would be no Carnival Corp or the endless large cruise lines. P&O Lines (owner of Princess Cruises until Carnival bought it) said “Love Boat” brought in over a billion dollars in business. Love Boat was the ultimate realization of a TV show turned into a brand name.
Love Boat contrasted with Grace’s own experience with ships and cruise liners. He had sailed on over thirty ships and liners with his parents, aunt and grandmother in early 50s to early 70s. He had been a passenger aboard ships operated by Cunard Lines, Holland America Lines, US Lines, American President Lines, Matson Lines, Pacific Far East Lines, Grace Lines, Delta Lines, Moore-McCormick Lines, Swedish America Lines, Home Lines, Canadian Pacific Lines, Italian Lines, American Export Lines, P&O Lines, Orient Lines, Italian Lines, French Line, etc. He sailed on some of the great liners and passenger ships including the Kungsholm, President Hoover, Empress of Canada, America, Lurline, Medea, Mauritania, Homeric, Mariposa, Monterey, Matsonia, President Wilson, Dentledyke, Del Sud, Santa Rosa, Oriana, Prince George, Royal Viking Sky, etc. He experienced P&O Line’s Canberra going Around-the-Pacific in the late 60s and the next time he heard of this ship she was doing troop duty during the Falkland War. He sailed with his aunt on the Saturnia – the pre-war Italian Line ship was the first to have individual balconies or verandas for their first class staterooms. His last cruise voyage prior to 2000, was aboard Carras Line’s Daphne sailing to Havana, Cuba in 1978 from New Orleans. Thee have been no passenger ship services between the USA and Cuba since.
By the time he was writing for Love Boat, the great steamship companies and their liners were flying hand me down foreign flags, painted like old whores, scrapped or doing three day cruises to the Bahamas. You couldn’t travel trans-Atlantic except by the QE 2 (only in the summer) and there were no trans-Pacific voyages. There was no First, Cabin or Tourist Classes. No private grills or skeet shooting or playing the ship’s pool. Vanished. Just one big class. Vegas afloat.
The very successful Cruising The Past website has been an outgrowth of Grace’s strong interest in cruise and social history. Starting with his first ocean voyage when he was eight years old.
Drawing on his own knowledge and a vast maritime and social history collection, he is able to produce a very successful website.
Cruising the Past captures the moments in the time when passengers “crossed the pone” in style and “getting their was half the fun”!
The website is visited by thousands of people daily who search for a glimpse of the past and researching social history.
He has lectured and consults extensively on the social history of maritime travel.
MICHAEL L. GRACE is part of the award winning team that created the internationally performed award winning musical SNOOPY, based on PEANUTS by Charles M. Schultz. SNOOPY continues to be one of the most produced shows (amateur; stock) in America/Worldwide and has had long running productions in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and in London’s West End. There are over 100 individual productions every year.
Out of college, Grace started in the theatre, besides SNOOPY, he went on to produce P.S. YOUR CAT IS DEAD by Pulitzer prize winning author James Kirkwood, co-produced the national revival touring company of DEATHTRAP, along with revival productions of PETER PAN in Australia and South Africa. He wrote the stage thriller FINAL CUT which has had productions in the UK, South Africa and Australia. His one-man play, KENNEDY – THE MAN BEHIND THE MYTH, was developed for HBO and produced theatrically.
During the 1980s, he started writing for TV and films, including being a continuing writer on such series as LOVE BOAT, PAPER DOLLS, and KNOTS LANDING. He developed screenplays for such major award winning directors as Nicolas Meyers, Tony Richardson and J. Lee Thompson. He has written for all the major networks and studios. He has been hired numerous times as a script doctor, doing many un-credited rewrites on TV movies and features. He has written movies for TV, including the thriller LADY KILLER starring Judith Light (which has set a record on Lifetime for the number of times its been shown), various pilots and developed screenplays for Kevin Costner and John Travolta.
He attended USC and received his BA from San Francisco State University. He did graduate studies in the UK – studying to be an Episcopal priest, He gave up his vocation and pursued a career in the arts. He apprenticed at Los Angeles Civic Light Opera. He completed graduate courses at the American University in Beirut. He has guest lectured on writing spec screenplays – in a way to avoid development hell in Hollywood. While in college and graduate school he worked as a foreign correspondent for COMBAT, the famous Paris daily that grew out of the resistance during WW 2, and as a Hollywood/travel correspondent. He visited more than 50 countries. He a devoted follower of Jessica Mitford.
He has just completed A PERSON OF INTEREST, a thriller novel, and the musical RUNNER-UP with British composer/lyricist TOM LOWE. Michael is a continuing contributor to New York Social Diary and, through a life long passion for travel and social history, has an award winning website: Cruising The Past. He is currently working on IT’S THE LOVE BOAT… AND HOW IT CHANGED CRUISING BY SHIP a non-fiction book dealing with how the hit TV series as a major cultural phenomenon and altered the style of cruising by ship and developing a fashion reality show for China. He is an authority on social travel history.
Grace has been very active in freedom of speech issues. He produced a major satirical political blog for three years and was sued by a prominent congresswoman through the Federal Election Commission. Along with the DAILYKOS, he won a landmark 2008 decision for bloggers in the USA. The Federal Election Commission ruled in his favor against ex-Congresswoman Mary Bono. Grace defended himself pro per. Bono used a rightwing Bush backed law firm and Bono paid out over $300,000 in legal fees. The firm proved themselves totally incompetent. Bono lost and so did the law firm. Grace won.
Grace is a member of the Writers Guild of America, Dramatist Guild and the Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
He lives in West Hollywood, California.