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Gilligan’s Island is one of the rare shows that will always hold a spot in popular culture and people’s hearts. With such a variety of funny characters, there was something for everyone to love.

Now that the show had been off the air for so many years, secrets have been revealed about the cast, the show, and production that we’re ready to let you in on.

One Outfit A Day

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Ever wonder how Mary Ann and Ginger had so many clothes with them when they were only supposed to go on a three-hour boat tour? In fact, there were never any outfit repeats during the course of the show.

Skipper’s Real Name

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You may have forgotten that Skipper’s real name is Jonas Grumby. It’s mentioned in the pilot that aired in 1964.

Breaking the Fourth Wall

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Breaking the fourth wall in media terms means speaking directly to the audience. Skipper was known for dong this constantly by making a face directly at the camera. Back then, it was rare for a television show to break the fourth wall.

“Little Buddy”

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Alan Hale Jr. (Skipper) would call everyone “little buddy” on set. So, the writers decided to add this to his character. Skipper would refer to Gilligan (Bob Denver) as little buddy throughout the show’s run.

Equality

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Bob Denver, who played Gilligan, wanted everyone to be equal. So, when he noticed that Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson’s names didn’t appear in the credits, he made sure that changed.

Half Mast

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Gilligan’s American flags are seen at half mast because the crew finished filming the pilot episode on November 22, 1963, the day President John F. Kennedy was shot.

S. S. Minnow

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Ever wonder why Gilligan named his boat the S. S. Minnow? It’s an inside joke with the cast and crew. Creator Sherwood Schwartz was never a fan of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) head Newton Minow.

Coconut Cups

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In the first season, the cast used real coconuts as cups. However, what people don’t realize is that coconuts are so porous that they were destroyed quickly. From then on the cast had to use ceramic coconut cups.

Ginger’s Bag

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Ginger’s bag, just like her outfits, seems endless. She had everything they needed right in her bag. We aren’t really sure how true this would be.

Mary Ann’s Wardrobe

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To separate herself from Tina Louise (Ginger) Dawn Wells created her own outfits. She wanted to show off her long legs so she made short shorts. However, she had to make sure that her navel was covered because that wasn’t allowed to be shown on television just yet.

Aging Cast

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Remember, Gilligan’s Island was filmed back in the 1960s. So, the cast looks much older now. Sadly, Sherwood Schwartz died in 2011. Dawn Wells, Tina Louise are the only cast members still alive.

Never Ask a Woman’s Age

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Natalie Schafer, who played Mrs. Howell, kept a secret from the rest of the cast, crew, and her fans. She would never reveal her age. It did come out that she was a whopping 13 years older than her on-screen husband, Jim Backus.

No Close Ups

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Natalie Schafer had a special clause in her contract that banned the crew from filming close up shots of her face because she didn’t want anyone to notice her wrinkles.

Radio Antenna

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The radio the characters used was a Packard Bell AM radio. However, the crew added a long antenna to the radio so the audience would believe that it could possibly receive a long distance message. The real radio does not actually have an antenna.

Props

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In order to keep with the show’s theme of being stranded on an island, the props department had a bit of a challenge. Any props they created had to be made out of material that was found on the island.

Saving Ratings

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When the ratings for the show started to decline, Schwartz had an idea of adding a new character. This new addition was to be a dinosaur. CBS executive Hunt Stromberg Jr. said to Schwartz, “Gilligan and his pet dinosaur! It’s our answer to ‘Mr. Ed.’”

All About the Journey

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You won’t believe everything Alan Hale Jr. went through to get to his audition. He had to ride a horse through Utah, hitchhike to Vegas, then fly to LA.

Gilligan’s Name

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Fans were curious as to whether Gilligan was the character’s first or last name. Bob Denver and Schwartz were confused as well. “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 about Denver.

$20k Skirt

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Everyone loved Mary Ann. She was beautiful, talented, and oh so sweet. At an auction, one of the skirts the character wore sold for an astonishing $20,000!

Iconic

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Tina Louise did such a memorable job acting as Ginger Grant that nobody could see her play any other character. Therefore, she never received another acting job thanks to her iconic role. She blames Gilligan’s Island for the death of her tv career.

99 Episodes

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The show lasted for 99 episodes. The cast was so dedicated that the actors were in every single one of them. Well, except for the Professor, Ginger, and Mary Ann. They were only credited for 98 episodes.

Traffic

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Traffic can get pretty noisy in LA. So, the cast and crew had to film their lagoon scenes quickly so they didn’t capture any traffic noise.

Free Trip

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Natalie Schafer saw the role as a free trip to Hawaii, since that was where they were shooting the pilot. Unfortunately, once the show was picked up by CBS, filming moved back to LA.

No Singing

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Dawn Wells proved to be tone deaf, which was a problem during the singing numbers with the entire cast. She lip synced with the rest of the cast to make it look like she was singing.

Suspicious

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The Professor was pretty handy when it came fixing and building things. So, some fans wondered why he couldn’t fix Gilligan’s boat. They soon realized that if this were the case, the show would have ended.

Alan Young as Gilligan

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Rumors flew around that Schwartz wanted Alan Young from Mister Ed to star as Gilligan in the show. Years later Schwartz cleared the air and claimed he had no idea where this rumor came from.

No Kids

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During the writing stages, they planned on the Professor bringing his kid nephew along. However, they decided against it because Gilligan was such a kid at heart that it was enough.

Ruined Marriages

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All three lead female cast members had marriages that lasted for less than a decade. Whether it was due to their intense work schedules or the men lining up waiting to date them, we aren’t entirely sure why their marriages didn’t work out.

Bound Together

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Gilligan was somewhat of a knucklehead, which may raise the question why Skipper kept him around. Well, Skipper and Gilligan served in WWII together where Gilligan saved Skipper’s life.

Millionaires

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Not only did Natalie Schafer play a millionaire, but she was one in real life. She bought a bunch of Rodeo Drive property for very cheap and flipped them when the property value skyrocketed.

World Recognition

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While the show only ran for a total of three seasons, it was popular all over the world. Even a tribe in the Solomon Islands who didn’t have television recognized Dawn Wells as Mary Ann from the show when she visited!

Alf

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Remember Alf? The show about an alien named Alf? Well, the two shows did a crossover where Alf ended up on the island with Gilligan and his crew!

Military Man

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Alan Hale Jr. served in the military, so people considered him a tough guy on set. There was one scene where Skipper was supposed to climb up a tree. However, when he fell, he missed the cushioned landing and fell hard on the concrete breaking an arm.

Alternative Pilot

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The very first pilot had the two women as a teacher and secretary. However, the network decided to wait a while before showing another episode so that fans wouldn’t notice the difference in the characters.

Animated

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It was common for popular shows to be turned into animated cartoons in the 60s and 70s. Gilligan’s Island was actually turned into two animated cartoons. One took place in outer space and was called Gilligan’s Planet.

Multiple Gingers

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When people think of Ginger Grant, they picture Tina Louise. However, there have been six different actresses who have played the role of Ginger in different cartoons and movies.

The Pitch

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Thanks to Schwartz’s persistence, CBS president Jim Aubrey agreed to the creation of Gilligan’s Island. At first, he was concerned that the audience would get frustrated that the characters never left the island.

She Did Her Own Stunts

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Natalie Schafer can do anything! Not only was she super rich, but she also did her own stunts on the show. She would sink into quicksand, fall into lagoons, and anything else that involved her character moving around.

The Best Contract

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Thanks to her husband, Dawn Wells made it out the best financial-wise from the show. She added a clause to her contract that she would receive royalties on every syndication that the show earns. That means she’s getting paid for reruns!

Raquel Welch

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Dawn Wells wasn’t the first choice to play Mary Ann. The creators had Raquel Welch in mind for the role, but she turned it down. It was a good move for Welch because the cast of the show had a hard time looking for roles when it ended.

Similar Characters

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Sherwood Schwartz created another show called The Alan Young Show where there was a character named Hubert Updyke III, which was played by Jim Backus. Backus’s character Thurston Howell III was a nod to this previous role.

Penny Pincher

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They call it acting for a reason. While Jim Backus played a millionaire, in real life he was known for “forgetting his wallet” and making other people pay for his meals.

Diva

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Before filming, Tina Louise was under the impression that she would be the star of the show. She was upset to find that she was going to star with other people lost on the island. This resulted her in being a diva on set and asking the cast and crew to make special exceptions for her.

American Society

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Did you notice how different each character on the island is? This is a representation of different people and classes in American society.

Memoir

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The world knows Dawn Wells as Mary Ann, so she titled her memoir What Would Mary Ann Do? The memoir is written from the character’s point of view. Kind of strange if you ask us.

Arrested

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Dawn Wells was arrested in 2007 for having joints in her car. She was on her way home from a party when a cop pulled her over for swerving. She was taken to jail even after a friend claimed to have left the joints in the car.

Reruns

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For over 50 years, reruns have been played of Gilligan’s Island. People still enjoy watching these funny characters try to get off the island. The producers never thought that people would enjoy watching reruns. Boy, were they wrong.

Miss Nevada

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In 1959, Dawn Wells was crowned Miss Nevada. She moved to LA after graduating the University of Washington. However, she didn’t just want to be known for her looks in Hollywood. She wanted to be known for her talents as well.

Good Friends

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While fans always pitted Mary Ann and Ginger against each other to decide which one was their favorite, Wells and Louise were actually quite good friends. When the show started, Wells wasn’t very well known while Tina was. She felt intimidated by Tina at first, but overcame this intimidation quickly.

Teaching

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After her role on Gilligan’s Island, Tina Louise turned to Broadway. When she isn’t performing on Broadway, Tina is teaching in New York. Surprisingly, most of her students, who are in second grade, recognize her as Ginger.

All About Eva

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When asked which episode was her favorite, Tina Louise answered “All About Eva.” In the episode, she played two characters, Ginger and a redhead named Eva. Ginger gives Eva a makeover and when Eva gets off the island, she assumes Ginger’s identity and becomes a big film star in Hollywood.

Tina’s Memoir

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Tina also wrote a memoir. Tina’s focus was on young and teenage girls and wanted to help them through rough times.

Residual Rights

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At first, the show wasn’t very successful. Until 1968, most of the cast retained residual rights because they didn’t think it was going to be a hit. Dawn Wells made the most money out of all the actors on the show because of the rerun clause in her contract.

No Hanging Around

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Tina Louise did not particularly enjoy hanging out with her costars off set. This may go back to her not wanting to be typecast in her role as Ginger.

Budding Love

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Many fans swore that there was some chemistry between the Professor and Mary Ann in the show. Schwartz wanted the show to be family friendly, so he didn’t write any love interests or relationships between the characters.

Cut from the Schedule

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Why did Gilligan’s Island only last for three seasons? CBS rescheduled their lineup and cut the show. Once CBS picked up Gunsmoke, Gilligan’s Island was laid to rest.

Remembering Bob Denver

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Bob Denver died about ten years before David Bowie died in 2016. Why are we mentioning this? Because when news broke about Bowie, the hashtag #RipBobDenver started trending. How strange?

Looney Tunes

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In one episode of Gilligan’s Island, Mr. Howell gives Gilligan his wife’s diamond necklaces to cut through wires. At this time he says, “You’ll have more carrots than Bugs Bunny.” This was a reference to a character, A-Lad-In His Lamp” that Backus played on the Looney Tunes.

Archie Bunker

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You know Carroll O’Connor from his famous role as Archie Bunker from All in the Family. Did you know that he was almost cast as Skipper?

Dream Sequences

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There are plenty of dream sequences in the show. During one scene in the episode, “V for Vitamins,” the little Gilligan is voiced by Bob Denver’s son.

Skipper at First Sight

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Sherwood Schwartz first saw Alan Hale Jr. as he was eating dinner dressed up in a Civil War costume. It was then that Schwartz knew that he was the right actor to play Skipper.

A Fourth Movie

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While there were only three seasons of the show, there were also three films made about Gilligan’s Island. A fourth movie was in the works. It was going to be about a nuclear war that left the characters believing they were the only people left on earth.

Favorite Scenes

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Both the actors and fans loved the dream sequences that were put in the show. The actors loved dressing up in different scenarios and finally filming somewhere other than an island.

Rescue Requests

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People actually believed that these characters were stranded on an island when the show first aired. They even sent letters to the Coast Guard asking them to rescue these people!

The Lagoon

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The lagoon played a huge role in Gilligan’s Island. It probably even looks a little familiar. It’s actually the same lagoon that was used when filming The Creature From the Black Lagoon!

Filming in the Lagoon

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The lagoon wasn’t actually a real lagoon, but manmade on a set. However, during the winter it would get very cold, almost 40 degrees in the water, making Bob Denver have to wear a wetsuit under his costume. Eventually, the lagoon was transformed into an employee parking lot when the show ended.

Cancer

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Alan Hale Jr. was diagnosed with cancer at the end of his life. While he was on hospice, he met a teenager who was also battling cancer and happened to be a huge fan of the show. To cheer up the teen, Hale put on his Skipper costume for him.

The Rest

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In the original theme song, Mary Ann and the Professor were referred to as “the rest.” Bob Denver didn’t like this and made sure the song was changed to include these characters’ names.

The Professor’s Story

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Every character needed a backstory as to why they ended up on the island. The Professor went on the three-hour boat trip to relax before he wrote his book Fun with Ferns.

Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel

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Alan Hale Jr. ran his own restaurant called “Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel” in which he included the Skipper to greet people coming in. However, it only ran for about 15 years until he shut it down.

Picking a Name

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Usually there is some serious thought put into character’s names. However, when it came to Bob Denver’s character, the writers simply chose a random name from a telephone book.

The Beatles

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The Wellingtons sang the first version of the show’s theme song. While that version was never used, the band made a guest appearance on the show with the name The Mosquitos, a play on The Beatles.

Ginger’s Name

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The writers thought a little harder about Ginger’s name. They named her after Hollywood starlet, Ginger Rogers and legend Cary Grant.

Theme Song

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Sherwood Schwartz actually sang the theme song and Johnny Williams, who worked on the Star Wars soundtrack, composed it.

Denver, Colorado

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Bob Denver shares the same name as the capital city of Colorado.

Confusion

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The final film included a character named Thurston Howell IV. Throughout the show, the Howells never had children. However, their son popped up in the final film.

Skipper’s Story

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The show was based on the book, Gilligan’s Wake. In the book, we get Skipper’s story. Skipper was a PT in the navy with JFK and Quinton McHale.

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