the shows cast of ABC's Lost be Lost on Gilligan's Island
by TVcrazy Man
trivia and facts sections Fun
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
First Telecast: September 26, 1964
Last Telecast: September 4, 1967
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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 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
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
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."
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
Buy the DVD