Meet Jill Whelan - host of Ryman Arts' 25th Anniversary Celebration!

By Shannon Huang, Development & Communications Manager

We are very excited to have Jill Whelan host Power Up - Ryman Arts' 25th Anniversary Celebration. With such an exuberant personality, we know our supporters will have a great night with Jill!

RSVP for Power Up here.

Meet Jill Whelan 

Jill Whelan's love of theatre began at age seven when a summer musical theatre program introduced her to acting.  After sending her own school picture to a San Francisco Talent Agency, she did a number of national commercials and, at the age of 10, starred in her first drama TV series, Aaron Spelling’s Friends on ABC.

That same year, she filmed the classic comedy film, Airplane, and guested on The Love Boat playing Vicki Stubing, Captain Stubing’s daughter.  The guest character proved to be so popular with viewers, that Aaron personally called 11 year old Jill, and told her she was to become a permanent cast member. 

The Love Boat ran for 10 years on ABC and afforded her the opportunity to work with hundreds of legendary performers including Frank Sinatra, Carol Channing, and Ethel Merman.  Through that time she hosted many ‘Variety Club’ telethons to benefit children with prosthetic limbs.  For the telethons, she toured and sang/performed with Sammy Davis Jr and Liza Minnelli.  In 1987, Jill was directed by the legendary Martin Sheen in the Emmy award-winning movie of the week, Babies Having Babies.

Through the 1980s, Jill worked with Nancy Reagan as her national spokesperson for the Just Say No! anti drug campaign.  Jill has sung at the White House for two presidential administrations (Reagan and George Bush Sr).  After The Love Boat ended, Jill attended college in England at Guildford studying English literature.

After her studies at Guildford, Jill moved to New York to do theater and performed in several off-Broadway productions.  Feeling it was important to learn the “other side” of the business, Jill started a career as a producer at Madison Square Garden, where she produced live events including the MTV Birthday tribute to Bob Dylan, the ESPY Awards, Harry Connick Live, and many more.  

When her firstborn child, Harrison, was three, Jill landed a role on the daytime soap The Young and the Restless, but realized that with a new child she needed to find a job with more stable work hours.  A lifelong fan of news and headlines, she began working at KCOP News in Los Angeles as an assignment desk assistant, and worked her way up to an investigative producer.  After four years, Jill decided to leave after their news became ‘infotainment.’  

Jill moved back to the Delaware River Valley where she gave birth to her second child, Grant, in 2005.  During this time, Jill also formed a successful acting studio for children and adults in Bucks County and Philadelphia where she taught improv comedy, scene study, film, television and commercial acting.  

Jill has co-hosted two popular podcasts, The Venus Diaries, and then in 2012, joined forces with Brian Phelps, of KLOS’ popular The Mark & Brian Show, to form The Brian and Jill Show, which debuted at number one on iTunes.

Recently returning to her acting and singing career, she created a one-woman cabaret show, Jill Whelan: An Evening in Dry Dock, which she performed off-Broadway, and internationally.  She’ll be touring the show in 2015 including a week on the RSVP Gay Cruise Line on Valentine’s Day week, where she’ll be the celebrity cohost along with Kathy Najimy. 

She recently starred in the Christmas television movie, A Christmas Tree Miracle on Up TV, and the indie horror film, 6 Degrees of Hell.

In 2014, she and the cast of The Love Boat christened the Princess Cruise Lines for their 40th Anniversary in an all star celebration.  The cast reunited in the 2015 Rose Bowl Parade on New Years Day.

Biography courtesy of Andrew E. Freedman Public Relations