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Taking A Fateful Trip To Gilligan’s Island

Entertainment | March 21, 2022

Source: (Pinterest).

Gilligan’s Island got its start in a public speaking class at New York University. When the professor asked students to improvise a one-minute speech explaining what they would want to have with them on a deserted island, Sherwood Schwartz took note. The idea would take shape when Schwartz was a comedy writer. He pitched the story of dissimilar individuals who must live and work together after being stranded. Schwartz imagined it as a microcosm of world politics and would teach the lesson that people can get along when they have to. 

Source: (Looper).

The Original Show Only Ran Three Seasons

The show ran from September 26, 1964 until April 17, 1967, a total of 98 episodes. When it began it was filmed in black and white, but by the second and third season, it was in color. During its first run, it had solid ratings, but became more popular once it was in syndication. 

The Skipper was almost played by Carroll O'Connor. Source: (DoYouRemember).

The Cast Could Have Been Very Different

As they started casting the roles for the show, they almost created a very different group of castaways. They nearly cast Jerry Van Dyke as Gilligan, Jayne Mansfield as Ginger, Carroll O’Connor as the Skipper, Raquel Welch as Mary Ann, and John Gabriel or Dabney Coleman as the Professor. 

Source: (KIwiReport).

They Made Some Changes To The Pilot To Film The First Episode

The pilot, titled “Marooned,” too was a bit different from the show audiences came to love. One difference was in the characters, which included two secretaries and a high school teacher. The secretaries were named Ginger and Bunny, and although their roles were dropped, the name Ginger remained and was given to the movie star, played by Tina Louise. Mary Ann’s character was added after Bunny was dropped and the high school teacher became the Professor. In the pilot, the group originally sailed on a six-hour tour, double the length of the eventual ride. Just like the first episode, it did not have descriptions of any of the main characters’ backgrounds, but the audience did learn the Skipper’s real name: Jonas Grumby. The pilot also featured a very different theme song, one which was a calypso number sang by Sherwood Schwartz in a Caribbean patois. They kept much of the pilot as the first episode, retaining the shots which were filmed with Gilligan, the Skipper, and the Howells. Audiences did not see the pilot until 1992. 

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They Changed The Theme Song A Second Time

There were ore changes to the theme song, “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle,” written by Schwartz with George Wyle and sung by the Wellingtons. The original song which aired during early episodes mentioned “the rest,” and as the Professor and Mary Ann became more important, they too were named among the cast members in the song. The credits during the first season ended with a picture of Tina Louise with the text “and also starring Tina Louise as Ginger.” Incidentally, in Tina Louise’s contract, it stated that she had an “also starring” billing and that no other name would follow hers in the credits. As a result, neither Dawn Wells nor Russell Johnson was mentioned in the credits. Bob Denver, had a clause in his contract which indicated that his name could be anywhere in the credits, so he threatened to move it to the end. So, they struck a deal with Tina Louise, and Wells and Johnson were added to the credits and the theme song was revised.  

Source: (YouTube).

Ginger Created More Drama

Apparently, this was not the only time Bob Denver stepped in to protect Dawn Wells, nor was it the only time that Tina Louise was difficult to work with. Tina Louise wanted to be a television star, and in May of 1965, he agreed to do a photoshoot for a TV Guide cover with one caveat: Dawn Wells had to be included, which she was, but was cropped from the cover. Tina Louise may have been difficult to work with throughout the filming of the original television series, but she stopped playing the role of Ginger once it was finished. She was replaced by other actresses in the subsequent TV movies.

“Gilligan the Goddess” was the final episode of the show as it ended its run. They were under the impression that it would be picked up for another season when it was canceled and so that episode concluded just like all the rest, with the castaways still stuck on their island.

Tags: Bob Denver | Dawn Wells | Tina Louise

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Linda Speckhals


When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.