Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale… about the secrets of ‘Gilligan’s Island!’ An iconic television show that lasted only three short years, ‘Gilligan’s Island’ has warmed hearts around the world since 1964. Luckily for viewers, what was supposed to be a quick sightseeing tour for seven turned into one of the most beloved shows in American history. We hunted down some little-known facts and show secrets about ‘Gilligan’s Island’ that all generations will want to know!
20. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Was Created As A Political Statement
Believe it or not, the show was intended to pack a political punch. Producer Sherwood Schwartz came up with the idea of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ while attending a college class. He said it was meant as a “social microcosm and a metaphorical shaming of world politics in the sense that when necessary for survival, yes we can all get along.” His idea is based off the question of what would you take with you if stranded on an island, which actually makes quite a bit of sense once you think about it.
19. The Pilot Was Filmed On The Day John F. Kennedy Was Assassinated
If you look closely, you can see the flags are at half mast in the background as the Minnow leaves Hawaii.
18. There Was Originally Going To Be A Fourth Season
OMG. Could you imagine if there was another season? Maybe they would have been rescued finally! The idea was scrapped in order to make room for ‘Gunsmoke,’ after the cast had already purchased homes in the Los Angeles area in preparation for the fourth season.
17. The Coast Guard Reported Receiving Letters From Viewers Asking Them To Rescue The Cast
I can’t make this stuff up! When ‘Gilligan’s Island’ was originally airing, people would write in requesting the Coast Guard rescue the castaways. Apparently the show seemed a bit too real!
16. Gilligan’s First Name Was Willy
Creator Sherwood Schwartz said he planned on ‘Willy’ as Gilligan’s first name, however, it was never actually used in the show. According to Snopes, it’s up for debate whether or not Gilligan was the first mate’s name. “To this day, almost every time I see Bob Denver (Gilligan) we still argue. He thinks Gilligan is his first name, and I think it’s his last name. Because in the original presentation, it’s Willy Gilligan. But he doesn’t believe it, and he doesn’t want to discuss it. He insists the name is Gilligan,” Schwartz said.
15. Actor Jerry Van Dyke Turned Down The Role Of Gilligan To Star In ‘My Mother the Car’
Another thing I couldn’t make up, beloved actor Jerry Van Dyke was first approached to play Gilligan, but turned the role down to star in a show about a mother being reincarnated as a car. Not the best move of his career, obviously.
14. The S.S. Minnow Was Named After The Head Of The FCC, Who The Creator Strongly Disliked
Creator Sherwood Schwartz reportedly named the shipwrecked boat after the 1961 FCC chairman Newton Minow, who he strongly disliked. Schwartz credited Minow with “ruining” television as the chairman was notorious for calling tv a “vast wasteland” during a speech.
13. Alan Hale Jr. Dressed Up As The Skipper While Battling Cancer To Comfort A Terminally Ill Boy, Who Happened To Love ‘Gilligan’s Island’
Alan Hale Jr. died of cancer at age 68 in Los Angeles. But he left a lasting impression on many generations.
12. Mary Ann Is Everyone’s Favorite Character According To Online Polls
It’s not surprising adorable little Mary Ann is everyone’s favorite character. She’s followed by Gilligan, with poor Mrs. Howell being the least favorite.
11. Actress Natalie Schafer Only Agreed To Film The Pilot For The Free Trip To Hawaii
Wouldn’t you take the free trip, too? The rest of the series was filmed in California.
10. The Professor And Mary Ann Were Originally Left Out Of The Theme Song
Surprisingly, The Professor and Mary Ann were added into the opening song after actor Bob Denver, a.k.a. Gilligan, threatened to refuse use of his name in the credits. The pair were then quickly added into the ending of the theme song.
9. The Role Of The Skipper Was The Most Difficult To Cast
Schwartz said finding the right actor to play The Skipper was the toughest role to cast. He wanted someone who was commanding, yet affectionate towards Gilligan. He definitely picked the right guy with Alan Hale Jr.!
8. The Cast Was Originally Drinking Out Of Real Coconuts Until They Realized It Looked Awful On Camera
The show was keeping it 100% authentic with this move, but it didn’t end quite as expected. turns out coconuts aren’t that great for holding liquid. The cast changed over to more reliable materials after leaky coconuts ruined scenes.
7.Actor Russell Johnson, Who Played The Professor, Refused To Take His Shirt Off During Casting Auditions
I’m sure the producers had good reason to want to see the male cast sans shirts, it was an island show after all, but Johnson refused to strip down. He was obviously still cast for the part despite his inhibitions.
6. The Entire Cast Didn’t Get Along With Actress Tina Louise, Who Played Ginger
Actress Tina Louise is said to have been a bit of a snob during the three seasons of ‘Gilligan’s Island.’ And because of this, the rest of the cast kept their distance. In fact, actor Bob Denver refused to pose for photos with Louise on some occasions.Louise wanted to be the star of the show and claimed appearing on ‘Gilligan’s Island’ ruined her career as a “serious” actress. Harsh.
5. The Studio City Lagoon Was Turned Into A Parking Lot In 1995
The original lagoon for the show was in Malibu, but fog created too many issues. Instead, they relocated it to Studio City where it was drained and turned into an employee parking lot in 1995. Sad day indeed.
4.The Skipper, Actor Alan Hale Jr., Broke His Arm When He Fell Out Of A Coconut Tree
Hale missed the landing pads when he fell out of a coconut tree on set. That may not seem like such a big deal, but the fact Hale continued to film instead of seek treatment for his very real broken arm proves his dedication. He said he didn’t want to interrupt the filming— what a BAMF!
3. Actress Dawn Wells Is The Only Cast Member To Still Earn Money From The Show
Our little Mary Ann was also a smart business woman. Her talent agent husband of the time suggested she add an amendment to her contract before signing, and the show agreed to it. Instead of receiving the standard salary per episode, plus revenue from the first five reruns of an episode, Dawn Wells is still being paid from her work on ‘Gilligan’s Island!’ That’s some serious foresight on her part!
2.Natalie Schafer, Who Played Mrs. Howell While In Her 60s, Did Most Of Her Own Stunts
Another BAMF, Schafer, who was in her 60s while filming ‘Giligan’s Island,’ insisted on doing most of her own stunts. She went on record in a 1965 Chicago Tribune article to credit her swimming and crash diets with her staying in shape for the role.
1. The Character Mary Ann Was Originally Cast As A Secretary Named Bunny