As I look at some new TV shows on the air, I wonder about “Lucifer,” which is a Fox show based on the angel of darkness. Then there is the NBC show “Angel from Hell.” ‘Really?! These two don’t sound promising. CBS is offering a new show called “You and Me and The Apocalypse.” With those other new shows about ‘friendly’ dark angels, maybe the apocalypse IS around the corner!
So maybe those silly shows from the 60’s weren’t half-bad, after all! Like Gilligan’s Island.
Now if you watched Gilligan’s Island way back when, then you may like this memory lane visit and some trivia on the show.
If not, then you might want to drop out here. It’s a lot of trivia coming.
My point in the end of this says: as upsettingly irreligious and ungodly some of these new shows are today, they make me long for yesteryear in American tv’ s more innocent times.
I have over 50 years of watching television, and Gilligan’s Island (GI) had to be one of the silliest and screwiest shows I ever saw!! While many of us did not call it v(GI) our favorite show, it’s amazing how many adult people still can remember its theme song words. — so, sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started on this tropic isle, aboard this tiny ship!…
If you are one such person, then you may like the rest of this blog on GI trivia. If not, bye!
There were seven characters on this show, each mostly called by first name or title, but if you saw all the episodes or movies, then you heard their full names used once or more. There was: Skipper (Jonas Grumby), Ginger (Grant), Thurston Howell III, Lovey Wentworth Howell, Professor (Roy Hinkley), and Mary Ann (Summers). Finally there was Willie Gilligan, though he was always just Gilligan. No one called him Willie.
The Howells acted as the high class of the island,so the others afforded them some props in their way being addressed. Interestingly, though, the island was clearly named for its simplest inhabitant Gilligan!
The Gilligan character was played by actor Bob Denver. Do you old tv buffs remember what other show he had previously starred in? (Well, you can peak to the right.) It was “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” and he played the beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on it. It was a tv hit from 1959 to 1963.
Of the seven actor/actresses from the show, only two are still living. One is Tina Louise, who played Ginger. Her character’s name “Ginger Grant” is thought to be contrived from the names Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant. Tina Louise was born Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker (or Tina Blacker) in New York City, the daughter of a candy store owner. She was a 5-9 redhead who had won a Golden Globe in 1959 for the movie “God’s Little Acre.” She would be in 40 films (but mostly minor ones all the way up to 2015’s “White Lillies”), but Louise did have a main role in “The Stepford Wives.” Tina is 81 now.
Dawn Wells, who played the role of Mary Ann, is now 77 years of age. Dawn Wells is her real name. In 1959 she was Miss Nevada (hailing from Reno) in the Miss America pageant. While doing tv and film sometimes, Wells has mostly done musical theatre on stage for her career. I hear she taped a You Tube imterview on behind the scenes anecdotes of the show, but I haven’t seen it.
The island shown in the opening and closing credits of the tv show is actually located in Kaneohe Bay, about a mile offshore from the island of Oahu, in Hawaii. The lagoon set was located at the CBS lot in Studio City, California. (If sequences there were filmed too early or too late in the day, microphones would record rush hour traffic noise from a nearby freeway!)
The S.S. Minnow craft, used in the series as the doomed ‘ship,’ was actually a 37-foot twin-diesel, mahogany Wheeler Express Cruiser boat. The water craft was not named for the fish, but after the FCC Commission president Newton Minow who had called tv “a vast wasteland.” Thus the naming of the show’s boat was an inside joke to tease at Minow.
In the opening episode, the Minnow is sailing out of a normal port in America somewhere. The flag is at half-mast. Can you guess why? The show filmed its pilot on the real day Kennedy was assassinated, Nov. 22, 1963.
The GI show aired for just three seasons. When it did, some people actually thought it was a real situation and they called the Coast Guard to help the stranded people off of the island.
In the first season’s “Marooned” episode, the seven Minnow castaways on the island beach see a plane fly overhead, so they use fish to spell out the word HELP on the beach. Gilligan apparently ruins their rescue hopes by constructing the letter P backwards. However since all the remaining letters are correct, don’t you think any pilot seeing those letters from the air would be able to decipher the word HELP? Well, we guess not!! Viewers of GI were asked to put their brains in neutral for a half-hour.
One had to wonder how the seven did not find rescue of any of the several times someone actually visited the island. It’s a question that’s asked from season 2 episode 15 when a lady announcer actually visits the island, and she conducts an interview about the castaways on her live radio show. Yet, in this episode, the announcer Erika gives few details that these are the shipwrecked seven on her show, and then she leaves off the island, and it leads to no rescue ever coming back for the seven castaways. Things like this are preposterous, yet, in this episode there is a perfect explanation for her omission: Erika was played by Zsa Zsa Gabor (in her normal, ditsy self-absorbed kindcif role)! So, that left the seven islanders doomed. Zsa Zsa would move on to Green Acres and forget all about them!
Perhaps The Joke of the whole show is that these seven were never leaving! It was, after all, a comedy about being stuck there!
In the 2000’s, another hit show copied the idea. “Lost” was about people stuck on an island. The show ran from 2004-10. Those people didn’t leave the island either, while most of them mysteriously died on it. Yikes. Gilligan’s Island was safer.
After Gilligan’s Island (1964-67) went off the air, it had a big following in reruns. There was a nostalgic demand for a movie to be made to have the people on Gilligan’s Island rescued. Thus, in 1978, a film was made: “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island.” In 1979, another film was made: “Castaways from Gilligan’s Island.” An unbelievable third film then followed: “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.” The show’s producer Sherwood Schwartz had plans for even a fourth movie in which the castaways learn that a nuclear war has destroyed human civilization. Bob Denver (Gilligan) describes the premise: “The seven of us think it’s destroyed and we get married. Gilligan marries Mary Ann and they have a baby boy. The Professor marries Ginger and they have a baby girl….They heard it (world’s end) on the radio, and Gilligan broke it just before the disclaimer came on.” Denver explains that years later Gilligan’s sails off and finds the whole planet of people never were list at all. Wow.
The show lived on in reruns long past its 1967 close. Actress Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) was the only cast member to receive great financial compensation from the show’s syndication. It has long been stated that the entire cast never received residuals beyond the first four reruns of each episode, yet Wells was married to her agent, and he worked out a better deal for her. Sherwood Schwartz, who ran the series for television, also had a sweet deal on the rerun compensation.
The show begged many questions. Here’s one key one: Why did the Skipper character put up so much with the Gilligan character—even calling him as his “little buddy?” As a episode revealed, it was because Gilligan had saved the Skipper’s life in WWII on a Destroyer mission. A depth charge got loose and rolled down the deck. It would have crushed the Skipper if Gilligan had not pushed him out of the way.
(But, I have a better answer: How about the real Alan Hale Jr.’s appreciation for a 99 episode tv show run with the star Bob Denver as Gilligan? The success took some pressure off Alan Hale Jr.’s career, living in the shadow his dad Alan Hale who had a major 100 film career.
In the backstory of the show, there are amusing things. The Professor had taken the three-hour tour to relax before he began writing a book, “Fun with Ferns”. Wow, what exciting read that would have been! Not.
The professor liked to keep clued in to the world. “The radio” seen in many episodes was a Packard-Bell AM Radio, Model AR-851. The small silver handle and telescoping antenna were added by the prop department (despite the fact that AM radios do not use telescoping antennas). The antenna was likely added to lend credence to the castaways’ ability to pick up radio signals far away from civilization. What a comfort to know that the Skipper still could get current Navy Football scores on the radio sports reports, even if stranded!
There has always been the debate of who was the more popular of the woman figures of the show: Ginger or Mary Ann (or Mrs. Howell). Mrs. Howell is the clear third-place winner. In places one and two, Mary Ann had the younger fans liking her most, while older fans like Ginger (Tina Louise) more. In the category of men’s votes, Ginger won going away (as she played a sexy, movie star fantasy character). Tina and Dawn are the only cast members alive today, at 81 and 77.
In the show’s script, all the men and women behaved morally and properly with one another. If told in a modern tv soap story today, then all would be in an immoral mess! Thank goodness for goodness in a 60’s tv show on regular tv.
The actress to play Mrs. Lovey Wentworth Howell (Natalie Schafer) had a contract which stipulated that there be no close-ups of her in the show. The reason was that producers knew her real age, which was 13 years older than Jim Backus, who played her character’s husband, Thurston Howell III. Backus was a comedic actor in the 60’s and his unique voice was also used for the cartoon character of that era called Mr. Magoo.
In the opening song of the show, in its initial season, some characters are named, but others are just sung as “and the rest.” Who are those two minor characters getting the low billing at first, with less scenes in the pilot season? It was the Professor and Mary Ann. That later changed in the song.
Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s producer, claimed that, contrary to popular belief, “Robinson Crusoe” was not the inspiration for the series, even though it was one of his favorite books and was referenced in the closing song. The show idea was more inspired by the 1939 film “Five Came Back” starring Lucille Ball. The characters in that film included a wayward pilot and co-pilot, a botanist and his wife, a sultry woman with a shady past, and a rich playboy and his homespun wife.
. The tv show writers seemed to have license to make up anything they wanted on the scripts, as in their having episodes with a cave man found living on the island, a former enemy downed pilot found hiding there, as well as a Martian, a lost pop music group, and a troublesome lion and ape discovered in their camp on various episodes. But–no mind–they could handle it!
It has often been observed that although they were on “a three hour tour,” the castaways had an awful lot of supplies on board. Mary Ann and Ginger seemingly never worn the same clothes twice, nor made any native island clothes. Professor has an extensively library, and the Howells have myriad luxury items. Funny.
In the make-believe world of Gilligan’s Island (G.I.), the three follow-up made-for-tv movies helped us resolve what ever became of our seven tv islander friends. They do get rescued (movie 1) but a tsunami hits the island. Still, it survives and the Howells build a resort vacation spot there with a hotel (movie 2) and the other five ex-castaways benefit financially. Nice. Then, the island gets on the tourist map enough to host a Harlem Globetrotters game on it (movie 3), while a valuable and rare mineral supply is found on the island and an evil man (played by Martin Landau) tries to get it and ruin the G.I.resort, but he fails. Good. Still, the disappointment of these three films is that a fake Ginger is played in these movies (not Tina Louise) so Ginger fans are left disappointed. They wonder what becomes of Tina Louise until she turns up in the Stepford Wives film and some spots in tv shows.
Some other cameo appearances to the island, as characters there in the show, were from Don Rickles, Kurt Russell, Jack Sheldon, Richard Kiel, Phil Silvers, and Larry Storch. Each of these fine actors in their sudden appearances on the island also later seemed to ‘forget’ to bring rescue to the poor seven stranded islanders. Maybe they thought it would be bad for the show?! Consider the alternative show: filming Gilligan as a lifeguard in Laguna, the Howells on Wall Street, and the Professor as a Fern Shop manager, etc. No, that’s just not as compelling a tv show as with 7 co-stranded islanders!
I never saw the Gilligan’s episode with Don Rickles, but I can imagine him leaving the island in his typical face of disgust, and swimming a mile alone to the Hawaiian shore, and saying to someone: ‘Remember those seven missing people three years ago from the Minnow? Those seven Hockey Pucks are just a mile away on that little island offshore, thinking they are stranded! But I just swam from there 10 minutes ago. It was easy! Yeah, I have to say, those missing Minnow tourists over there are real intellectual giants! You can see the Hawaiian mainland from their back shore, and still they think they’re 200 miles into the Pacific! Just how far can a 3-hour tour boat get offshore anyway?! That so-called storm they had was probably a tequila storm and not any actual weather storm. And what a bunch of complainers! Most people would be grateful for a no-cost private island life, but not those seven! All they ever say is “We want to leave! We want to leave this place!” That’s all they would say. Well, dummies, how about swimming a few feet home! I say, leave those numbskulls over on that island, until the Professor can tighten all of their loose screws. And another thing, if he thinks he’s so smart, why are they all still deserted over there?!” Can’t he see he’s a half-mile from port?!’
So——let’s forget about these new 2016 TV shows like “Lucifer” on FOX or “You and Me and The Apocalypse” on NBC or “Angel from Hell” on CBS tv. There are better reruns on!