Little Bits of History

Ginger or Mary Ann?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 5, 2010

The cast of Gilligan's Island

September 4, 1967: The last episode of Gilligan’s Island – created by Sherwood Schwartz – is broadcast, discounting syndication. The sitcom was based on the premise of seven castaways trapped on a remote island after their ship flounders in a storm. The SS Minnow was named for Newton N. Minow, chairman of the FCC, who stated that television was a “vast wasteland,” rather than for a fish.

Gilligan, a pop icon now and a bumbling first mate then, was played by Bob Denver after Jerry Van Dyke turned the role down. The Skipper was played by Alan Hale, Jr. who so loved the role that he could still be seen in costume 14 years later. Jim Backus, Mr. Howell, was also known as the voice of the cartoon character Mr. Magoo and used this notoriety in the sitcom. Russell Johnson, The Professor, solved all technical problems on the island, but never did manage to repair the ship.

Natalie Schafer who played Mrs. Howell, had “no close-ups” written into her contract. Tina Louise, Ginger Grant, never did figure out that she wasn’t the star of a show named Gilligan’s Island. She had difficulty with production staff during the entire run of the series and did not appeared in the sequels. Dawn Wells was a former Miss Nevada and won the role of Mary Ann even though Raquel Welch auditioned for it.

The theme song was written as an introduction to the show’s storyline. It told of the ship being caught in a storm and settling on this uncharted island. The viewer was treated to all manner of guests who somehow landed on this “lost” island, were off the island after 22 minutes, and never helped to rescue the trapped regulars. There were also a number of dream sequences, usually with Gilligan as the dreamer. The show was silly, yet fun. The inhabitants remain on the island to this day, never having escaped.

“Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale,/ a tale of a fateful trip.” – Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle, from the opening theme song of Gilligan’s Island

“Many a man owes his success to his first wife and his second wife to his success.” – Jim Backus

“I enjoyed both equally, but in different ways, … Maynard gave me the chance to do wonderful word comedy…When I was offered Gilligan, I chose it because that character gave me the chance to do physical comedy, which I love.” – Bob Denver

“As silly as it seems to all of us, it has made a difference in a lot of children’s lives. Gilligan is a buffoon that makes mistakes and I cannot tell you how many kids come up and say, ‘But you loved him anyway.’” – Dawn Wells

Also on this day, in 1888 George Eastman got a patent for a Kodak camera and film.

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