Chuck Woolery's 'Love Connection' -- We talk to the host of TV's syndicated dating show

Think of him as a love general armed with a perpetually sunny smile and a shiny gold Rolex. For the last decade, Chuck Woolery, 51, has been host of Love Connection, the syndicated tell-all dating show (and Studs forerunner) whose contestants choose a potentially significant other from video clips. Woolery leads his loyal troops into thousands of romantic matchups, assessing the damage on dating battlefields and reveling in bull’s-eyes hit by Cupid’s arrow. So who better to dish with on Valentine’s Day?

You remember your first date? Absolutely. Her name was Bertie Dumpfield.

No way. Yes. She was beautiful. She caught the bus by my house every night. She was 18 and I was 7 — and I was in love with her. She used to invite me over for cookies.

How far did it go? One night there was some big hairy guy sitting on her couch and she wouldn’t invite me in. The next day she came by and I turned my back on her, like Marlon Brando sticking his nose in the air in Sayonara. I ignored her thereafter.

Should your show be ‘Love Connection’ or ‘Lust Connection’? I think a lot of people get confused with love. Most people attach lust with love, though love is a much deeper relationship. I think most of the love that’s involved on the show is more of a superficial love.

Would you ever have gay couples on ‘Love Connection’? No. You think it would work if a guy sat down and I said, ‘Well, so where did you meet and so and so?’ then I get to the end of the date and say, ‘Did you kiss?’ Give me a break. Do you think America by and large is gonna identify with that? I don’t think that works at all.

Have you ever thought about doing a celebrity ‘Love Connection’? It doesn’t work. We tried it, like, three times, but the celebs were so protective of their images you couldn’t get a real reading on what happened. Everything was good, fine , and terrific, so we dropped it instantly.

What are the show’s love stats? There have been 29 marriages, 8 engagements, and 15 children. When you think that it’s someone in our office putting people together through questionnaires and tapes, it’s incredible that one couple got married, much less 29.

You’re married now; have you been married before? Yes. More than once? Yes. More than twice? Twice. Both of them lasted nine years and they were unsuccessful from the start. But this marriage to Teri (daughter of TV’s David Nelson and granddaughter of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson) has been eight wonderful years — the best experience I’ve ever had in my life and I deserve it.