Remembering Gilligan’s Island

I never minded that they couldn’t get off the island, but it was a little strange. After all, the professor was able to make a Geiger counter out of bamboo… he couldn’t come with something? And what about all those celebrities who arrived and then left without taking the crew with them?

Let’s face it. It wasn’t, after all, about getting off the island. Most of us grade school boys were more interested in having a debate on “Ginger or Mary Ann… Well?”


I personally thought the Professor was the best. I was a childhood inventor and couldn’t wait to see what he MacGyvered from coconuts & bamboo. Here are some of those nutty, professor inventions:

Gilligan’s Island only ran for three seasons (just shy of 100 episodes). We can all sing the theme song, and most of us have our own memories of this screwball comedy which which makes it clear that the three hour tour has lasted for decades, and is still entertaining audiences today.


QUESTION: Did you know the lovable cast’s full names? Did you even know they had full names? (Scroll to the bottom of this page for the ANSWER).


Here are some other fun facts.

The theme was changed to include the Professor & Mary Ann who were popular with viewers.

Here’s both to compare:

Season 1

Season 2 & 3


Did you know

1.The boat trip which stranded the castaways was originally supposed to be a “”6 hour ride”” rather than a “”3 hour tour.””

2. The original theme song for Gillgan’s Island was twice as long, and a calypso style song.

3. The character of Mary Ann was originally a secretary named Bunny, who bore nearly no resemblance to the final version .

4. Russell Johnson, when auditioning for the role of The Professor, was asked to take off his shirt. Johnson refused to do so, but still got the part.

5. Ginger was not a movie star in the original script, and was also a secretary.

6. The lagoon set was drained and used a parking lot when it was not in use.

7. A skirt worn by Mary Ann was auctioned off for over $20,000 at a Beverly Hills auction house.

8. During the shows first season, the Professor and Mary Ann were left out of the theme song and just referred to as “”the rest.”” Bob Denver managed to get the studio executives to pay for a complete reshooting and rescoring of the theme song in order to make sure Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells received full credit, by threatening to disallow use of his name in the titles of the theme song.

9. The coconut cups the cast drank from we’re originally made of actual coconuts, but we’re replaced when the cups let liquid soak through the shells and looked terrible on camera.

10. Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell) was 13 years older than her on screen husband, and refused to tell the cast or producers her real age.

11. The footage of the S.S. Minnow leaving Hawaii shows a flag at half mast on the shore. This is because it was filmed on the day of John F. Kennedy’s assassination.

12. The show couldn’t be filmed at rush hour because the lagoon set was too close to a freeway, which caused microphones to pick up traffic noises.

13. Special props had to be built for the show, including a pedal powered bamboo car, and a record player made out of the ship’s wheel.

14. Tina Louise (Ginger) disagreed extensively with the producers over her portrayal of the character. She later claimed the show ruined her career as a serious actress.

15. The Skipper’s real name, Jonas Grumby, is only mentioned twice in the entire series.

16. The Minnow, the shipwrecked vessel that stranded the castaways, was named for the head of the FCC who was disliked by the series creator.

17. The favorite scenes of the cast were dream sequences, a device used to take the castaways off the island.

18. Natalie Schaffer decided to film the pilot was because it meant a free trip to Hawaii.

19. Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann was the only cast member who made money from the shows nearly continuous syndication. The others were payed a flat salary.

20. Alan Hale was filming in Utah when he got a call offering him a chance to audition for the role of Skipper. He rode a horse to the highway, the hitchhiked to an airport, where he flew to Hollywood to screen test.

21.The show’s cast bought homes in LA because the show was slated to have a 4th season. Gilligans Island was cancelled at the last minute to make room for the drama Gunsmoke.

22. Although Gilligan’s first name is never mentioned, the creator said he liked the name “”Willie”” for the character

23. The final episode of the series left the castaways on the island, ending the series with a big question mark.

24.The Coast Guard occasionally received letters from people asking for the rescue of Castaways, apparently not realizing the show was a sitcom.

25. When Alan Hale jr had cancer, he found out there was a small boy in the hospital who also had cancer, who also loved Gilligan’s Island. Alan Hale jr. dressed up as the Skipper and went to comfort the terminally ill child.

Some of 90 celebrities who made cameos:

Funny how they were easily able to get on, and off this remote island in the Pacific with ease during the shows three short years on air (and the subsequent tv movies): Larry Storch, the Harlem Globe Trotters, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kurt Russell, Don Rickles, Mel Blanc (voice of a parrot) and Sherwood Schwartz himself.  The crew had to stick it out for 3 years, and still weren’t rescued until one of the later made-for-tv movies!


Gilligan: Willy (or Willie) Gilligan?. Played by Bob Denver
The Skipper: Jonas Grumby. Played by Russell Johnson
Millionaire: Thurston Howell III. Played by Jim Backus
His Wife: Eunice Wentworth Howell. Played by Natalie Schafer
The Movie Star: Ginger Grant. Played by Tina Louise
The Professor: Roy Hinkley, BA, BS, MA, PhD. Played by Russell Johnson
Mary Ann: Mary Ann Summers. Played by Dawn Wells


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What do you think?

Slides: The Pinnacle of the Playground

“ I just Want to say one word to you, just one word. Plastics”