Hanks was just getting started in 1980 when he was cast as the co-lead of ABC’s cross-dressing sitcom “Bosom Buddies.” The show was a hit, which meant “The Love Boat” was very much expecting him. Perhaps realizing it was in his best interests going forward to be a team player for the network, Hanks climbed aboard for the season 4 premiere, in which he played the old fraternity chum of Fred Grandy’s ever-on-the-make yeoman purser Gopher.
Hanks learned one important lesson from his brief time on the cruise ship: how to say no. He applied his newfound knowledge when the network hit him up for a guest star appearance on “Fantasy Island.” As Hanks told Oprah Winfrey:
“Tom: I got an offer in between our two grand seasons of ‘Bosom Buddies,’ and I said, ‘You know, I’m not going to do ‘Fantasy Island.’ They said, ‘What are you talking about? What are you doing instead?’
Oprah: Wasn’t playing in ‘Fantasy Island’ like playing in ‘The Love Boat?’
Tom: I did a ‘Love Boat!’ And based on my trip on the ‘Love Boat,’ I said, ‘I’d just as soon not do Fantasy Island.'”
ABC might’ve been miffed at the time, but Hanks evaded any potential network retribution by becoming a full-fledged movie star in 1984 with “Splash” and “Bachelor Party.” There would be no more “Love Boat” or “Fantasy Island” for Hanks. Now he was big enough to appear later in the evening as the host of “Saturday Night Live,” where he became a distinguished member of the long-running sketch series’ Five-Timers Club.