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Could the shows cast of ABC's Lost be Lost on Gilligan's Island
by TVcrazy Man TV trivia and facts sections Fun Facts Home

Gilligan's Island 50's -60's Fun Facts

Order the Complete series on DVD from Amazon

Bob Denver Career Biography
As we mourn the passing of this classic comedian, we take a look at his career in television as Gilligan, Maynard, and more.

Bob Denver as Gilligan 
Alan Hale, Jr. as Jonas Grumby (The Skipper) 
Jim Backus as Thurston Howell III 
Natalie Schafer as Mrs. Lovey Howell 
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant 
Russel Johnson as Roy Hinkley (The Professor) 
Dawn Wells as Mary Ann Summers 
Series Run 
First Telecast: September 26, 1964 
Last Telecast: September 4, 1967 

Broadcast History 

September 1964- September 1965, CBS, Saturday 8:30-9:00pm 
September 1965- September 1966, CBS, Thursday 8:00-8:30pm 
September 1966- September 1967, CBS, Monday 7:30-8:00pm 
Theme Song 

"The Ballad of Gilligan's Island" by George Wyle and Sherwood Schwartz 

Jayne Mansfield turned down the role of "Ginger"; Carroll O'Connor tested for the role of The Skipper; Dabney Coleman tested for the role of The Professor.

Raquel Welch auditioned for the role of Mary Anne.

Jerry Van Dyke turned down the role of Gilligan.

The characters' full names:

  • The Skipper: Jonas Grumby
  • The Professor: Roy Hinkley
  • Mr. Howell: Thurston Howell III
  • Mrs. Howell: Eunice Howell
  • Ginger: Ginger Grant
  • Mary Ann: Mary Ann Summers
  • Gilligan's first name, the subject of some debate ever since the series first aired.

John Williams (then known as Johnny) wrote the theme song for the unaired 1964 pilot. You know the guy who wrote the theme song to Jaws.

Originally slated to return for the 1967-68 television season but canceled at the last minute by CBS head William Paley, to make room for the long-running "Gunsmoke" (1955).

ALF featured an episode in 1987 called "The Ballad of Gilligan's Island" in which the alien dreams he is on the island after getting familiar with the show and meets the featured castaways. Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Dawn Wells, and Russell Johnson portray darkly-skewed versions of their characters after being stuck on the island for 23 years. During ALF's dream, it was shown that Gilligan was getting tired of being called "Little Buddy" and the Professor argues with Skipper on how his ideas to get off the island being ruined were Gilligan's fault. The Howells are explained as having set up a camp on the other side of the island with no references to Ginger. Skipper puts ALF to work digging a hole for their mini-golf course (the opposite of ALF's order from Willie Tanner to fill in the lagoon he dug in his backyard) to compete with the Howells' golf course. The Professor was also shown to have successfully made a television where they watch sitcom versions of the Tanner Family.

Baywatch season 2 episode 16 "Now sit back and you'll hear a tale" (1992) features Bob Denver and Dawn Wells as Gilligan and Mary Ann as part of Eddie's dream.

In the credits, 'Johnson, Russell' and Dawn Wells were relegated to being simply "The Rest". That changed in the second season when Bob Denver demanded that they be given an equal share in the credits thus changing the lyrics to "The Professor and Mary Ann."

In its last year Gilligan's Island was the lead-in program for the CBS Monday night schedule. It was followed for the first sixteen weeks by the sitcom Run, Buddy, Run. The timeslot from 7:30 to 8:30 Eastern was filled in the 1967–1968 season by Gunsmoke, moved from its traditional Saturday 10 pm timeslot.

Four different boats played the part of the S.S. Minnow. One was used in the opening credits and rented in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. Another boat, the Bluejacket, was used in the opening credits shown during the second and third seasons and eventually turned up for sale on Vancouver Island in August 2006, after running aground on a reef in the Hecate Strait on the way south from Alaska. One boat was used for beach scenes after being towed to Kauai in Hawaii. The fourth Minnow was built on the CBS Studios set in the second season. The Minnow was named in reference to Newton Minow, chairman of the U.S. FCC, who was most famous for describing television as "a vast wasteland".

The final day of filming of the scenes of the pilot episode was Friday, November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The cast and crew found out about the assassination late that morning, Hawaii time. Between the filming of scenes, they crowded around a radio, listening to news bulletins. A reminder of the tragedy appears in the opening sequence of the show's first season, when the theme song is played. As the Minnow is leaving the harbor and heading out to sea, an American flag flying at half staff can be seen briefly in the background.

The United States Coast Guard occasionally received telegrams from concerned citizens, who apparently did not realize it was a scripted show, pleading for them to rescue the people on the deserted island. The Coast Guard would simply forward these telegrams to producer Sherwood Schwartz.

Filming of the show took place at the CBS Radford Studios complex in Studio City, Los Angeles California. The same stage was later used for The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The lagoon was drained and used as a parking lot during the show's off-season and was the last surviving element of the show when it was demolished in 1997 as part of an expansion project.

Pilot Episode:

Due to the three significant character and casting changes between the pilot episode and the first series, the pilot was not shown when the first series was aired in 1964

Four of the original seven pilot characters were identical to those of the series (including the actor/actress cast for each role): Gilligan, the Skipper, and the two Howells.
The three remaining original pilot characters differed from those of the series (including the actor/actress cast): In the pilot, the Professor was instead a high school teacher played by John Gabriel; Ginger the movie star was instead Ginger, a practical secretary with red hair, played by Kit Smythe; and Mary Ann the Kansas farm-girl was instead Bunny, a stereotypically cheerful "dumb blonde" secretary, played by Nancy McCarthy.

The pilot's opening and ending theme songs, two similar Calypso-styled tracks written by John Williams and performed by Sherwood Schwarz himself impersonating Sir Lancelot with differing lyrics, were quite different from those of the actual series. The short scenes during the opening theme song (which is longer than the series opening theme song) include Gilligan taking the Howells' luggage to the boat before cast-off and Gilligan attempting to give a cup of coffee to the Skipper during the storm that would ultimately maroon the boat.

After the opening theme song and opening credits end, the pilot proper begins with the seven castaways waking up on the beached SS Minnow and continues with them performing various tasks including exploring the island, attempting to fix the transmitter, building huts, and finding food. Contrary to some descriptions, no detailed accounts of the pilot characters' backgrounds were written into the pilot storylines. The pilot then ends with the ending theme song and ending credits.

The first episode actually broadcast, "Two on a Raft," is sometimes wrongly referred to as the series pilot. This episode begins with the same scene of Gilligan and the Skipper awakening on the boat as in the pilot (cut slightly differently to eliminate most shots of the departed actors) and continues with the characters sitting on the beach listening to a radio news report about their disappearance. There is no equivalent scene or background information in the pilot, except for the description of the passengers in the original theme song. Rather than re-shooting the rest of the pilot story for broadcast, the show just proceeded on. The plot thus skips over the topics of the pilot; the bulk of the episode tells of Gilligan and the Skipper setting off on a raft to try to bring help but unknowingly landing back on the other side of the same island.

Theme song

The music and lyrics for the theme song, "The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle", were written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle. One version was used for the first season and another for the second and third. In the original song, the Professor and Mary Ann, originally considered "second-billed co-stars", were referred to as "and the rest," but with the growing popularity of those characters, their names were inserted into the lyrics. The "Gilligan" theme song underwent this one major change thanks to star Bob Denver, who personally went to the studio and asked that Johnson and Wells be added to the theme song's opening credits. When the studio at first refused, saying it would be too expensive to reshoot, Denver insisted, even saying that if Johnson and Wells weren't included, he wanted his name out of the song as well. The studio caved in, and "the Professor and Mary Ann" were added.

 Wells elaborated that star Bob Denver went to the studio executives to get her and Johnson added to the opening credits. Denver pointed out that his contract stated he could have his name anywhere he wanted in the credits, so they could move it to the end credits along with Johnson and Wells.

 Wells said Denver never mentioned this to anyone in the cast, and she did not find out about it until years after the show ended.

The first season version was recorded by The Wellingtons. The second season version was uncredited, but according to Russell Johnson in his book Here on Gilligan's Isle, it was performed by a group called the Eligibles.

The show's original pilot episode featured a calypso theme song by future film composer John Williams, and different lyrics. The original length of the voyage was "a six-hour ride", not "a three-hour tour". John Williams (or Johnny Williams as he was often listed in the show credits) also started out as the composer of the incidental music for the show (from 1964 to 1965) but was replaced by Gerald Fried for the remaining seasons (1965–1967).

The band Little Roger and the Goosebumps recorded "Gilligan's Island Stairway," a parody of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", substituting the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song. "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a song called Isle Thing, a parody of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing", about a rapper whose girlfriend introduces him to the show. Yankovic also used the lyrics from the closing theme in "Amish Paradise", a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise". The song has also been covered by many bands, including Bowling for Soup for the TBS show The Real Gilligan's Island.


During the 1966–1967 television season, Gilligan's Island aired on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. Even though the sitcom's ratings had fallen out of the top 30 programs, during the last few weeks of its third season, the series was still doing very well and more than holding its own against its chief competitor, The Monkees, which aired at the same time on NBC-TV. Therefore, CBS assured Sherwood Schwartz that Gilligan's Island would definitely be picked up for a fourth year.

However, under pressure from network president William S. Paley and his wife Babe, along with many network affiliates and longtime fans of Gunsmoke (which had been airing late on Saturday nights), to reverse its threatened cancellation, CBS rescheduled the western series to an earlier time slot on Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. As a result, Gilligan's Island was unceremoniously cancelled at practically the last minute even though the cast members were all on vacation. Some of the cast had bought houses based on Sherwood Schwartz's verbal confirmation that the series would be renewed for a fourth season

Film sequels

In a 1978 made-for-television movie, Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the castaways do successfully leave the island, but have difficulty reintegrating back into society. During a reunion cruise on the first Christmas after their rescue, fate intervenes and they find themselves wrecked on the same island at the end of the film. It starred the original cast except for Tina Louise, who refused to participate due to her disputes with the producers and was replaced by Judith Baldwin. The plot involved Soviet agents seeking a memory disc from a spy satellite that landed on the island and facilitated their rescue. Gilligan and the Skipper "rescue" Mary Ann right as she is about to marry her longtime fiancé, which contradicts the series where it was established that Mary Ann had no boyfriend after having made up a story about a boyfriend to keep the others from feeling sorry for her. Her madeup boyfriend was someone she knew on the mainland that was dreadful. His name is Horace Higginthbottom.

In a 1979 sequel, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island, they are rescued once again, and the Howells convert the island into a getaway resort with the other five castaways as "silent partners". Ginger was again played by Judith Baldwin. This sequel was intended as a pilot for a possible new series in which the castaways would host new groups of tourists each week, using the all-star cast anthology format made popular by Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. The series never materialized, though the premise was the basis of a short-lived 1981 series titled Aloha Paradise.

In a second sequel, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981), villains played by Martin Landau and then-wife Barbara Bain (who also appeared together on Mission: Impossible and Space: 1999) try to take over the island to gain access to a vein of Supremium, a valuable but volatile element. This time, Ginger was played by Constance Forslund. They are thwarted by the timely intervention of the Harlem Globetrotters. Jim Backus, who was in poor health at the time, only appeared at the very end, arriving back on the island. David Ruprecht played the role of Thurston Howell IV, even though the series had established that the Howells were childless. Unlike the previous two movies, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island utilized a laugh track like the original series.


The New Adventures of Gilligan was a Filmation-produced animated remake that aired on ABC Saturday Morning from September 7, 1974, to September 4, 1977, for 24 episodes (16 installments airing in 1974–75 and eight new ones combined with repeats in 1975–76). The voices were done by the original cast except for Ginger and Mary Ann (both were voiced by Jane Webb). An additional character was Snubby the Monkey.

Gilligan's Planet was an animated science fiction version produced by Filmation and starring the voices of the Gilligan's Island cast, save for Tina Louise (Dawn Wells voiced both Mary Ann and Ginger). In a follow-up to The New Adventures of Gilligan, the castaways escape from the island by building a spaceship, and get shipwrecked on a distant planet. Only 12 episodes aired on CBS between September 18, 1982, and September 3, 1983. In one episode, they travel to an island, get shipwrecked there, and Gilligan observes, "First we were stranded on an island, then we were stranded on a planet, and now we're stranded on an island on a planet."

Purchase VHS  Rescue From Gilligan's Island
The tv reunion movie that made television history when Gilligan and the rest of the castaways finally made it off the island. Or Buy the DVD