She was best known for writing the 1974 book The Love Boats, which the ABC comedy drama was based on. The book documented her experience on the high seas as the first female cruise director for a major cruise line, Princess Cruises.
The series, which was produced by Aaron Spelling, ran for nearly 250 episodes between 1977 and 1986.
Saunders recently received the Southern California Motion Picture Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award presented to her by The Love Boat star Bernie Kopell and Oscar winning actress Margaret O’Brien. She was celebrated with a Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony with the Love Boat cast in May.
At the time of her death, Saunders was in the process of negotiating and writing an outline for a Broadway musical based on The Love Boat. She was also writing a second edition of her book Hypoglycemia, The Disease Your Doctor Won’t Treat as well as another high seas cruise line adventure book.
“Jeraldine was so happy this year and was basking in the limelight of the celebrations of her 40th Anniversary of her TV deal and the first episodes of Love Boat,” said her spokesman Edward Lozzi. “Jeraldine was an active woman who never lost her interest in dancing, younger men, and the written word. She was a terrific, grateful, class act who refused to grow old. She was indomitable. She broke the gender barrier in a major industry, the cruise lines”
She leaves no immediate family and memorial services are pending.