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Gilligan's Island
File:Gilligans Island title card.jpg
Created bySherwood Schwartz
Directed byRod Amateau
  • Bob Denver
  • Alan Hale Jr.
  • Jim Backus
  • Natalie Schafer
  • Tina Louise
  • Russell Johnson
  • Dawn Wells
Opening theme"The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle"
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons3
No. of episodes98 plus a 1963 pilot (first broadcast in 1992) (list of episodes)
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time25 minutes
Production companies
  • Gladasya Productions
  • United Artists Television
  • CBS Productions
Original networkCBS
Picture formatBlack and white (1964–1965)
Color (1965–1967)
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseSeptember 26, 1964 (1964-09-26) –
April 17, 1967 (1967-04-17)

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Gilligan's Island is an American sitcom created and produced by Sherwood Schwartz via United Artists Television. The show had an ensemble cast that featured Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Russell Johnson, Tina Louise, and Dawn Wells. It aired for three seasons on the CBS network from September 26, 1964, to April 17, 1967. Originally sponsored by Philip Morris & Co and Procter & Gamble, the show followed the comic adventures of seven castaways as they attempted to survive the island on which they had been shipwrecked. Most episodes revolve around the dissimilar castaways' conflicts and their unsuccessful attempts, for whose failure Gilligan was frequently responsible, to escape their plight.[1]

Gilligan's Island ran for a total of 98 episodes. The first season, consisting of 36 episodes, was filmed in black and white. These episodes were later colorized for syndication. The show's second and third seasons (62 episodes) and the three television movie sequels were filmed in color.

The show received solid ratings during its original run, then grew in popularity during decades of syndication, especially in the 1970s and 1980s when many markets ran the show in the late afternoon after school. Today, the title character of Gilligan is widely recognized as an American cultural icon.


The two-man crew of the charter boat SS Minnow and five passengers on a "three-hour tour" from Honolulu run into a tropical storm and are shipwrecked on an uncharted island somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Uncharted island[]

The island was close enough to Hawaii to clearly pick up Hawaiian AM radio transmissions on a portable receiver. The location given in the series varies.

In the first season episode "'X' Marks the Spot", the radio warns that the Air Force will test launch an armed missile to strike a location near 140° latitude, 10° longitude (note: this is an impossible location -- latitude goes only up to 90°, which is at the poles) The Skipper calculates this as their island's location, based on their starting point when the storm hit before they "... drifted for that three days ... with the prevailing western current ...", meaning the deadly missile will hit the island.[2]

Later in the first season, the episode "Big Man on Little Stick" has the Professor giving the position as "approximately 110° longitude and 10° latitude".[3]

In the third season episode "The Pigeon", the island is placed about 300 miles (480 km) southeast of Honolulu.

Cast and characters[]

Main article: List of Gilligan's Island characters
  • Bob Denver is First Mate Gilligan, the bumbling, accident-prone crewman (affectionately known as "Little Buddy" by "the Skipper") of the SS Minnow. Denver was not the first choice to play Gilligan; actor Jerry Van Dyke was offered the role, but he turned it down, believing that the show would never be successful. He chose instead to play the lead in My Mother the Car, which premiered the following year and was cancelled after one season. The producers looked to Bob Denver, the actor who had played Maynard G. Krebs, the goofy but lovable beatnik in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. None of the show's episodes ever specified Gilligan's full name or clearly indicated whether "Gilligan" was the character's first name or his last. In the DVD collection, Sherwood Schwartz states that he preferred the full name of "Willy Gilligan" for the character. Denver, on various television/radio interviews (The Pat Sajak Show; KDKA radio), said that "Gil Egan" was his choice. The actor reasoned that because everyone yelled at the first mate, it ran together as "Gilligan." In the unaired pilot episode, whether Lovey Howell refers to Gilligan as "Stewart" or steward is unclear. On Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the writers artfully dodged Gilligan's full name when the other names are announced. Little is revealed about Gilligan's past, except his occasional reference to best friend Skinny Mulligan and a one-time reference to his older brother.
  • Alan Hale Jr. is The Skipper/Captain Jonas Grumby, the captain of the S.S. Minnow. Alan Hale Jr. was a longtime actor in B-Westerns and the look-alike son of Alan Hale Sr., a legendary movie character actor. Hale so loved his role that, long after the show went off the air, he still appeared in character in his Los Angeles restaurant, Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel.[4] Although the Skipper was a father figure to Gilligan, Hale was only 14 years older than Denver. Gilligan pushed the Skipper out of the way of a loose depth charge when they were both serving in the United States Navy. Skipper is a World War II veteran, and served in the Seventh Fleet. In one episode, he describes his participation in the Battle of Guadalcanal. In the episode "They're Off and Running" (season 1 episode 28), Ginger is reading from a horoscope magazine and asks the Skipper his birthday, to which he responds, "May 5th." In moments of exasperation, the Skipper would swat Gilligan on the head with his cap. Just as often, the Skipper endearingly called Gilligan "Little Buddy". While everybody else called him "Skipper", Mr. Howell often called him "Captain". In addition, Hale wore his Skipper outfit when four other Gilligan's Island cast members and he appeared on a few celebrity Family Feud shows.
  • Jim Backus is Thurston Howell III, the millionaire. Backus was already a well-known character actor when he took the part. The origin of the super-rich Howell character dates back to 1949 radio when Backus portrayed "Hubert Updike III" on The Alan Young Show. Also, in the inaugural 1962-1963 season (episode 31) of The Beverly Hillbillies, Backus basically plays the same character, this time as the eccentric millionaire Martin von Ransohoff. In the classic 1963 comedy It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, Backus played another Howell-like character, Tyler Fitzgerald, a boozy and rich airplane owner who briefly gets caught up in the race for the stolen money. Backus was perhaps best known as the voice of cartoon character Mr. Magoo. He reused some of the voice inflections and mannerisms of Magoo in the Howell role. He was well known for his ad-libs on the set. The character Howell was a Harvard graduate, a Republican, and a multibillionaire until his losses in the Great Depression left him a multimillionaire.
  • Natalie Schafer is Eunice Lovelle Wentworth Howell, Thurston's wife, whom he affectionately called "Lovey". Schafer had it written into her contract that no close-ups would be made of her, but after a while in the series it was forgotten. Perhaps because of her age. Schafer was 63 when the pilot was shot, although reportedly no one on the set or in the cast knew her real age and she refused to divulge it. Originally, she only accepted the role because the pilot was filmed on location in Hawaii. She looked at the job as nothing more than a free vacation, as she was convinced that a show this silly would "never go".[5]
  • Tina Louise is Ginger Grant, the movie star. Louise clashed with producer Sherwood Schwartz because she believed that she was hired as the central character. Her character was originally written as a hard-nosed, sharp-tongued temptress, but Louise argued that this portrayal was too harsh and refused to play it as written. A compromise was reached; Louise agreed to play her as a Marilyn Monroe/Jayne Mansfield type. Louise continued to clash with producers over her role and was the only cast member who refused to return for any of the post-series TV movies, saying that the role had killed her career as a serious actress. However, she did appear in a reunion of the cast on a late-night television talk show in 1988 and on an episode of Roseanne in 1995 when the Roseanne cast re-enacted Gilligan's Island. In the first season, Ginger often wore gowns that looked as if they were tailored from Minnow tarpaulins or similar substitute cloth (some had the name of the vessel stenciled on them). In the pilot episode, the character of Ginger (then a secretary) was played by actress Kit Smythe.
  • Russell Johnson is Professor Roy Hinkley, Ph.D. Actor John Gabriel was originally cast, but the network thought he looked too young to have all the degrees attributed to the Professor. Actually, "the Professor" was in fact a high school science teacher, not a university professor. In the first episode, the radio announcer describes him as a research scientist and well known scoutmaster. Johnson, who served as a bombardier in the Pacific during World War II, stated that he had some difficulty remembering his more technically oriented lines. When reading for the role it wasn't his idea he didn't even want anything apart of Gilligan's Island at first, but his agent talked him into it. He was waiting for a TV show of his own, not to be one of 7 on an island. He had done previous movies like It Came From Outer Space, This Island Earth, and a classic western where he shot Ronald Reagan in the shoulder. Johnson's role in the series was spoofed in a "Bloom County" comic strip for the Professor's technical expertise being unable to get the castaways off the island. This odd contradiction was played up in "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody song, "Isle Thing", when the Professor, who is brilliant enough to "make a nuclear reactor from a couple of coconuts" cannot "build a lousy raft". In his autobiography, Here On Gilligan's Isle, Russell Johnson admitted the Professor indeed for all his smarts could not build a boat, but despite popular beliefs stated in the aforementioned Bloom County strip or the "Weird Al" parody song, firmly added the Professor also did not build a nuclear reactor from coconuts nor a satellite dish from clam shells.
  • Dawn Wells is Mary Ann Summers. Wells was a former Miss Nevada when she auditioned for the role. Her competition included Raquel Welch and Pat Priest. The pilot episode had a different character ("Bunny") played by actress Nancy McCarthy. After it was shot, the network decided to recast the roles of the Professor and the two young women. Mary Ann became a simple farm girl from Winfield, Kansas. In 1993, Wells published Mary Ann's Gilligan's Island Cookbook with co-writers Ken Beck and Jim Clark, including a foreword by Bob Denver. In February 2007, she starred as Lovey Howell in Gilligan's Island: The Musical, a musical stage adaptation of the TV show.
  • Charles Maxwell was the uncredited voice of the "Radio Announcer" (1964–1965). The castaways listened to his plot-advancing radio bulletins in many episodes and always with perfect timing to hear the exact news they needed to know. Maxwell often paused between sentences, allowing the characters to react to his news and sometimes even responding to their comments.[6]


Main article: List of Gilligan's Island episodes

Pilot episode[]

The pilot episode, titled "Marooned", was filmed in November 1963. On November 22, the day of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the crew continued to work after hearing the shocking news.[7]

The pilot featured seven characters (as in the series), but only four of the characters — and their associated actors — were carried forward into the series: Gilligan (Denver), the Skipper (Hale), and the two Howells (Backus and Schafer). As it happens, only these four characters/actors were featured in the opening credits used in the pilot, with the remaining three characters only mentioned in the opening theme song as "and the rest".

Due to the three significant character and casting changes between the pilot episode and the first series episode, the pilot was not shown before the series first aired on 26 September 1964. The original pilot eventually aired over 29 years later (on TBS 16 October 1992).

The three characters who did not carry forward from the pilot were two secretaries and a high school teacher. In the pilot, the scientifically inclined Professor was instead a high school teacher played by John Gabriel. Ginger the movie star was still red haired Ginger, but worked as a secretary, played by Kit Smythe. Mary Ann the Kansas farm girl was instead Bunny, Ginger's co-worker, played as a cheerful "dumb blonde" by Nancy McCarthy.

The pilot's opening and ending songs were two similar Calypso-styled tracks written by John Williams and performed by Sherwood Schwarz impersonating singer Sir Lancelot. The lyrics of both were quite different than those of the TV series and the pilot's opening theme song was longer. The short scenes during this initial music include Gilligan taking the Howells' luggage to the boat before cast-off and Gilligan attempting to give a cup of coffee to the Skipper during the storm that would ultimately maroon the boat.

After the opening theme song and credits end, the pilot proper begins with the seven castaways waking up on the beached SS Minnow and continues with them performing various tasks, including exploring the island, attempting to fix the transmitter, building huts, and finding food. Contrary to some descriptions, the pilot's storylines contained no detailed accounts of the pilot characters' backgrounds. The pilot concludes with the ending theme song and credits.

The background music and even the laugh tracks of the pilot appear all but identical to those used during the series.

First broadcast episode[]

The first episode actually broadcast, "Two on a Raft", is sometimes wrongly referred to as the series pilot. This episode begins with the same scene of Gilligan and the Skipper awakening on the boat as in the pilot (though slightly differently cut, to eliminate most shots of the departed actors) and continues with the characters sitting on the beach listening to a radio news report about their disappearance. No equivalent scene or background information is in the pilot, except for the description of the passengers in the original theme song. Rather than reshooting the rest of the pilot story for broadcast, the show just proceeded on. The plot thus skips over the topics of the pilot; the bulk of the episode tells of Gilligan and the Skipper setting off on a raft to try to bring help, but unknowingly landing back on the other side of the same island.

The scene with the radio report is one of two scenes that reveal the names of the Skipper (Jonas Grumby) and the Professor (Roy Hinkley); the names are used in a similar radio report early in the series. The name Jonas Grumby appears nowhere else in the series except for an episode in which the Maritime Board of Review blames the Skipper for the loss of the ship. The name Roy Hinkley is used one other time when Mr. Howell introduces the Professor as Roy Huntley and the professor corrects him, to which Mr. Howell replies, "Brinkley, Brinkley."

The plot for the pilot episode was eventually recycled into that season's Christmas episode, "Birds Gotta Fly, Fish Gotta Talk", in which the story of the pilot episode, concerning the practical problems on landing, is related through a series of flashbacks. Footage featuring characters that had been recast was reshot using the current actors. For scenes including only Denver, Hale, Backus, and Schafer, the original footage was reused.

Last broadcast episode[]

The last episode of the show, "Gilligan the Goddess", aired on April 17, 1967, and ended just like the rest, with the castaways still stranded on the island. It was not known at the time that it would be the series finale, as a fourth season was expected but then cancelled.[8]

In its last year, Gilligan's Island was the lead-in program for the CBS Monday night schedule. It was followed for the first 16 weeks by the sitcom Run, Buddy, Run. The time slot from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Eastern was filled in the 1967–1968 season by Gunsmoke, moved from its traditional Saturday 10 p.m. time slot.

Typical plots[]

The shipwrecked castaways want to leave the remote island, and various opportunities present themselves. They typically fail owing to some bumbling error committed by Gilligan (with the exception of "The Big Gold Strike", where everyone except Gilligan is responsible for their failed escape). Sometimes this would result in Gilligan saving the others from some unforeseen flaw in their plan.[9]

Recurring elements center on one of five primary themes. The first deals with life on the island. A running gag is the castaways' ability to fashion a vast array of useful objects from bamboo and other local material. Some are simple everyday things, while others are stretches of the imagination. Russell Johnson noted in his autobiography that the production crew enjoyed the challenge of building these props. Some bamboo items include framed huts with thatched grass sides and roofs, along with bamboo closets strong enough to withstand hurricane-force winds and rain; the communal dining table and chairs, pipes for Gilligan's hot water, a stethoscope, and a pedal-powered car. Many scenes occur at the dining table, where the castaways enjoy a large number of dishes that Ginger and Mary Ann prepare while the radio provides news and entertainment. Gilligan and the Skipper often catch fish, and the island has citrus trees to avoid scurvy and a good supply of fresh water to drink and to prepare tropical drinks. Naturally, despite their obvious skill and inventiveness, the castaways never quite manage to put together a functional raft out of bamboo (or repair the holes in the Minnow, though the entire ship fell apart in the eighth episode, "Goodbye Island"[10]). In the television movie Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the castaways tie all their huts together and use that as a raft for escape.

The second theme involves visitors to the "uncharted" island. One challenge to a viewer's suspension of disbelief is the frequency with which the castaways are visited by people who do nothing to assist them. Some have hidden motives for not assisting the castaways. Others are simply unable to help, incompetent, or are foiled in their efforts to help the castaways by Gilligan's bumbling. Bob Denver, Jim Backus, and Tina Louise each had feature episodes in which look-alikes come to the island (who were, of course, played by themselves in dual roles). The island itself is also home to an unusual assortment of animal life, some native, some visiting.

The third recurring theme is the use of dream sequences in which one of the castaways "dreams" he or she is some character related to that week's storyline. All of the castaways appeared as other characters within the dream. In later interviews and memoirs, almost all of the actors stated that the dream episodes were among their personal favorites.

The fourth recurring theme is a piece of news concerning the castaways arriving from the outside world that causes discord among them. Then, a second piece of news arrives that says the first was incorrect. An exception to the latter part of this statement is the episode "The Postman Cometh", where Gilligan and the Skipper hear over the radio that Mary Ann's boyfriend eloped and the three single men try to cheer her up by wooing her; Mary Ann actually lied about having a boyfriend, and she created a romance with "a real creep" so that the others would think she had someone waiting for her back home.

The fifth recurring theme is the appearance or arrival of strange objects, like a WWII mine or a "Mars Rover" that the scientists back in the USA think is sending them pictures of Mars, and in one episode a meteorite.

Most of the slapstick comedic sequences between Hale and Denver were heavily inspired by Laurel and Hardy, particularly by Hale breaking the fourth wall by looking directly into the camera expressing his frustration with Denver's clumsiness as Oliver Hardy often did.[11]


Filming of the show took place at the CBS Radford Studios complex in Studio City, Los Angeles.[12] The same stage was later used for The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Roseanne, which featured Gilligan's Island prominently on one episode. The lagoon was drained and used as a parking lot during the show's off-season and was the last surviving element of the show when it was demolished in 1997 as part of an expansion project.[13]

Four different boats played the part of the SS Minnow. One was used in the opening credits and rented in Ala Wai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu. Another boat, the Bluejacket, was used in the opening credits shown during the second and third seasons and eventually turned up for sale on Vancouver Island in August 2006, after running aground on a reef in the Hecate Strait on the way south from Alaska. One boat was used for beach scenes after being towed to Kauai in Hawaii. The fourth Minnow was built on the CBS Studios set in the second season.[14] The Minnow was named in reference to Newton Minow, chairman of the U.S. FCC, who was most famous for describing television as "a vast wasteland".[15]

The final day of filming of the scenes of the pilot episode was Friday, November 22, 1963, the day of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.[16] The cast and crew found out about the assassination late that morning, Hawaii time.[16] Between the filming of scenes, they crowded around a radio, listening to news bulletins.[16] A reminder of the tragedy appears in the opening sequence of the show's first season, when the theme song is played. As the Minnow is leaving the harbor and heading out to sea, an American flag flying at half staff can be seen briefly in the background.[16][17]

The United States Coast Guard occasionally received telegrams from concerned citizens, who apparently did not realize it was a scripted show, pleading for them to rescue the people on the deserted island. The Coast Guard simply forwarded these telegrams to producer Sherwood Schwartz.[18]

Theme song[]

The music and lyrics for the theme song, "The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle", were written by Sherwood Schwartz and George Wyle. One version was used for the first season and another for the second and third seasons. In the original song, the Professor and Mary Ann, originally considered "second-billed co-stars", were referred to as "and the rest", but with the growing popularity of those characters, their names were inserted into the lyrics. The Gilligan theme song underwent this one major change due to star Bob Denver, who personally went to the studio executives and asked that Johnson and Wells be added to the theme song's opening credits.[19] When the studio at first refused, saying it would be too expensive to reshoot, Denver insisted, even saying that if Johnson and Wells were not included, he wanted his name out of the song, as well. The studio caved in, and "the Professor and Mary Ann" were added.[20][21][22]

The first-season version was recorded by the folk group The Wellingtons. The second-season version, which incorporated more of a sea shanty sound, was uncredited, but according to Russell Johnson in his book Here on Gilligan's Isle, it was performed by a group called the Eligibles.[23]

The show's original pilot episode featured a Calypso theme song by future film composer John Williams, and different lyrics. The original length of the voyage was "a six-hour ride", not "a three-hour tour".[24] John Williams (or Johnny Williams as he was often listed in the show credits) also started out as the composer of the incidental music for the show (from 1964 to 1965), but was replaced by Gerald Fried for the remaining seasons (1965–1967).[25]

The band Little Roger and the Goosebumps recorded "Stairway to Gilligan's Island," a parody of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven", substituting the words to the Gilligan's Island theme song.[26] "Weird Al" Yankovic recorded a song called "Isle Thing", a parody of Tone Lōc's "Wild Thing", about a rapper whose girlfriend introduces him to the show. Yankovic also used one verse from the closing theme lyrics in "Amish Paradise" (1996), a parody of Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise" (1995). The song has also been covered by many bands, including Bowling for Soup for the TBS show The Real Gilligan's Island.[27] Israel Kamakawiwoʻole also recorded a comic tribute to the theme song on his album E Ala E.


During the 1966–1967 television season, Gilligan's Island aired on Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. Though the sitcom's ratings had fallen well out of the top-30 programs, during the last few weeks of its third season, the series was more than holding its own against its chief competitor, The Monkees, which aired at the same time on NBC-TV. Therefore, CBS assured Sherwood Schwartz that Gilligan's Island would definitely be picked up for a fourth year.

However, CBS had signaled its intention to cancel the long-running Western series Gunsmoke, which had been airing late on Saturday nights during the 1966–1967 television season. Under pressure from CBS network president William S. Paley and his wife Babe, along with many network affiliates and longtime fans of Gunsmoke, CBS rescheduled the Western to an earlier time slot on Monday evenings at 7:30 p.m. As a result, Gilligan's Island was quietly cancelled at practically the last minute, while the cast members were all on vacation. Some of the cast had bought houses based on Sherwood Schwartz's verbal confirmation that the series would be renewed for a fourth season.[28]

The nearly cancelled Gunsmoke thrived in the new time slot, vaulting to the top five in the television rankings (far exceeding Gilligan's Island) and staying in the top ten for six consecutive seasons, finally being cancelled after a total of eight additional seasons.

Nielsen ratings/television schedule[]

Template:Refimprove section

Season Ep# Season premiere Season finale Time slot Rank Rating Households
1) 1964–1965 36 September 26, 1964 June 12, 1965 Saturday nights at 8:30 p.m. #18 24.7 (tie) 13,227,700
2) 1965–1966 32 September 16, 1965 April 28, 1966 Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. #22 22.1 11,900,850
3) 1966–1967 30 September 12, 1966 April 17, 1967 Monday nights at 7:30 p.m. #49[29] N/A N/A

Film sequels[]

In a 1978 made-for-television movie, Rescue from Gilligan's Island, the castaways do successfully leave the island, but have difficulty reintegrating back into society. During a reunion cruise on the first Christmas after their rescue, fate intervenes and they find themselves wrecked on the same island at the end of the film. It starred the original cast, except for Tina Louise, who refused to participate due to her disputes with the producers and was replaced by Judith Baldwin. The plot involved Soviet agents seeking a memory disc from a spy satellite that landed on the island and facilitated their rescue.

In a 1979 sequel, The Castaways on Gilligan's Island, they are rescued once again, and the Howells convert the island into a getaway resort with the other five castaways as "silent partners". Ginger was again played by Judith Baldwin.

In a second sequel, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981), villains played by Martin Landau and then-wife Barbara Bain try to take over the island to gain access to a vein of "supremium", a valuable but volatile element. This time, Ginger was played by Constance Forslund. They are thwarted by the timely intervention of the Harlem Globetrotters. Jim Backus, who was in poor health at the time, only appeared at the very end, arriving back on the island. David Ruprecht played the role of Thurston Howell IV.


The New Adventures of Gilligan was a Filmation-produced animated remake that aired on ABC on Saturday mornings from September 7, 1974, to September 4, 1977, for 24 episodes (16 installments airing in 1974–75 and eight new ones combined with repeats in 1975–76). The voices were provided by the original cast except for Ginger and Mary Ann (both were voiced by Jane Webb). Dawn Wells could not participate due to her appearing in an on-the-road play.[citation needed] An additional character was Gilligan's pet Snubby the Monkey.

Gilligan's Planet was an animated science-fiction version produced by Filmation and starring the voices of the Gilligan's Island cast, save for Tina Louise (Dawn Wells voiced both Mary Ann and Ginger). In a follow-up to The New Adventures of Gilligan, the castaways escape from the island by building a spaceship, and get shipwrecked on a distant planet. Only 12 episodes aired on CBS between September 18, 1982, and September 3, 1983. In the episode "Let Sleeping Minnows Lie", they travel to an island, get shipwrecked there, and Gilligan observes, "First we were stranded on an island, then we were stranded on a planet, and now we're stranded on an island on a planet."

Dusty's Trail , a series produced and created by Sherwood Schwartz, was basically a western reboot of Gilligan's Island. It also starred Bob Denver as Dusty, the inept scout for a wagon train, with Forrest Tucker as the wagon master, a wealthy banker and his wife, a smart science professor, a pretty school teacher, and a saloon girl. The series aired from September 11, 1973, to March 12, 1974, in broadcast syndication. The series was canceled after its first season, having run for 26 episodes. In the series, a wagon and stagecoach are separated from a wagon train and must find their way to California, facing troubles along the way.

Appearances in other TV shows[]

ALF featured an episode in 1987 called "Ballad of Gilligan's Island" in which the alien dreams he is on the island after getting familiar with the show and meets the featured castaways. Bob Denver, Alan Hale, Dawn Wells, and Russell Johnson portray darkly-skewed versions of their characters after being stuck on the island for 23 years. During ALF's dream, Gilligan was shown as getting tired of being called "Little Buddy", and the Professor argues with the Skipper on how his ideas to get off the island were ruined by Gilligan. The Howells are explained as having set up a camp on the other side of the island, with no references to Ginger. Skipper puts ALF to work digging a hole for their minigolf course (the opposite of ALF's order from Willie Tanner to fill in the lagoon he dug in his backyard) to compete with the Howells' golf course. The Professor was also shown to have successfully made a television on which they watch sitcom versions of the Tanner family.

In an unaired episode of the short-lived 1997 CBS sitcom Meego, Gilligan, the Professor, and Mary Ann all appear, played by the original actors, and Gilligan yells, "We've been trapped here for 35 years!" This episode did not air in the United States, because CBS canceled the series after six episodes aired.

Baywatch, season 2, episode 16, "Now Sit Back and You'll Hear a Tale" (1992) features Bob Denver and Dawn Wells as Gilligan and Mary Ann as part of Eddie's dream.

In Newhart a men's lodge called the "Beavers" is watching Gilligan's Island when they have to leave before seeing the end. One member -played by Russell Johnson- wants to know how the episode ends: He is assured that the castaways never get off the island!

Roseanne, which was shot on the same Studio City sound stage as Gilligan's Island, had an episode titled "Sherwood Schwartz: A Loving Tribute". Part of the episode is a fantasy sequence parodying this series. Most of the regular/recurring Roseanne cast portrayed the Gilligan's Island characters:

  • Jackie (Laurie Metcalf) / Gilligan
  • Dan (John Goodman) / Skipper
  • Leon (Martin Mull) / Mr. Howell
  • Bev (Estelle Parsons) / Mrs. Howell
  • Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) / Ginger
  • Mark (Glenn Quinn) / Professor
  • Darlene (Sara Gilbert) / Mary Ann

During the end credits, Tina Louise, Russell Johnson, Bob Denver, and Dawn Wells appeared as their Roseanne character counterparts. Sherwood Schwartz also appeared as himself, although his appearance is edited out in syndication.

Reunions and documentaries[]

Good Morning America featured a Gilligan's Island reunion presided over by guest host Kathie Lee Gifford on November 26, 1982. This was the first time that the entire cast had been reunited (including Tina Louise), though Jim Backus was not able to be physically present. He was able to join the cast via a live video remote from Los Angeles.

The original cast members (along with Sherwood Schwartz) reunited on television for one last time on a 1988 episode of The Late Show with Ross Shafer.

Gilligan's Island: Underneath the Grass Skirt is a 1999 documentary featuring Denver and Louise.

E! True Hollywood Story presented a backstage history of the show in 2000, featuring interviews with some of the stars or their widows.

Surviving Gilligan's Island (2001) was a docudrama in which Bob Denver, Dawn Wells, and Russell Johnson reminisce about the show.

Clones, parodies, allusions etc.[]

  • Gilligan's Island: The Musical was first produced in the early 1990s, with a script by Lloyd Schwartz, Sherwood Schwartz's son, and songs by Schwartz's daughter and son-in-law, Hope and Laurence Juber. After extensive revisions, since 2001 it has been produced at
  • Gilligan's Wake is a 2003 parallel novel loosely based on the 1960s CBS sitcom, from the viewpoints of the seven major characters, written by Esquire film and television critic Tom Carson. The title is derived from the title of the TV show and Finnegans Wake, the seminal work of Irish novelist James Joyce.
  • On November 30, 2004, the TBS network launched a reality series titled The Real Gilligan's Island, which placed two groups of people on an island, leaving them to fend for themselves à la Survivor – the catch being that each islander matched a character type established in the original series (a klutz, a sea captain, a movie star, a millionaire's wife, etc.). While heavily marketed by TBS, the show turned out to be a flop with a very Survivor-like feel, but little of its success. A second season began June 8, 2005, with two-hour episodes for four weeks. TBS announced in July 2005 that a third season of the show would not be produced.
  • In the movie Galaxy Quest, Gilligan's Island is referenced as the quintessential fictional show that could not possibly be misinterpreted as factual.


Currently, syndication is handled by Warner Bros. Television (under Turner Entertainment Co., which in 1986 acquired UA's share of the series as part of the classic Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer library). It has aired on TBS from 1990 to 2003, where it also aired with colorization on season one for a while. TNT aired it at some point in the 1990s, and also aired the colorized season one. Nick at Nite later aired the series from 2000 to 2001. It then shifted to TV Land, where it aired from 2001 to 2003 (and again from January to June 2014). Then, in 2004, it aired on Hallmark Channel.

As of 2015, the show airs nationally on both TV Land and MeTV.[1]

DVD releases[]

Warner Home Video released all three seasons of Gilligan's Island on DVD in Region 1 between 2004 and 2005. The Complete First Season features all 36 episodes unedited with the original theme song. And, unlike other releases of older sitcoms, the episodes are in their original black-and-white format. The special features include the rare pilot episode with commentary with creator Sherwood Schwartz, and three other featurettes.

The Complete Second Season includes all 32 season-two episodes and mentions in an interesting way that this season is in color. Bonuses for this set include: a season-two introduction with Russell Johnson and Sherwood Schwartz and audio commentary on the season's third episode, "The Little Dictator".

The Complete Third Season includes all 30 season-three episodes and uses words from the theme song on the back: "Just sit right back... for the final season!" Special features include a season introduction with Russell Johnson and Sherwood Schwartz, commentary on the season's fourth episode, "The Producer", guest-starring Phil Silvers, and a 15-minute documentary entitled Gilligan's Island: A Pop Culture Phenomenon.

The Complete Series Collection contains all the same bonuses and featurettes, no added features for a complete series box set. All these releases were double-sided discs (which require flipping disc over), and came in boxed sets, containing three discs per season.

In April 2012, the series was reissued in new DVD releases, with six episodes per disc and six discs per season, except for season 3, which only has five.

DVD name Ep# Release date
The Complete First Season 36 February 3, 2004
The Complete Second Season 32 January 11, 2005
The Complete Third Season 30 July 26, 2005
The Complete Series Collection 98 November 6, 2007

Remastered in High Definition[]

In August 2006, an executive at Warner Bros announced plans that Gilligan's Island, in addition to other classic TV series owned by the studio, would be re-mastered in HD.[30] The original TV series was shot on high resolution film, but scaled down for broadcast.

On January 20, 2014, TV Land became the first network to air HD remastered episodes of Gilligan's Island. This marked the first time the WB remastered episodes were seen by fans and the general public.[31]

At present, a release on Blu-ray or other physical media has not yet been announced. However the HD remastered episodes of Gilligan's Island are currently available for purchase through streaming media sources, such as Amazon Video and the iTunes Store.

In other media[]

A video game based on the series called The Adventures of Gilligan's Island was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in July 1990. The game features the likenesses of all the original castaways except for Ginger, who is completely absent from the game.

A pinball machine, manufactured by BALLY, based on the show was released in May 1991.

Film remake[]

Rights to the series were purchased, with an eye towards creating a movie scheduled for release March 30, 2012.[32] When Sherwood Schwartz signed a deal granting all rights to the movie, he reportedly said, "[It] just happened in the last 48 hours. I can’t take this much excitement at my age." Schwartz also said he would love to see Michael Cera as Gilligan and Beyoncé Knowles as Ginger.[33]

On December 17, 2013, reported that Josh Gad would star and co-write the film with Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez.[34]

Ginger or Mary Ann?[]

The question of which of these two characters men prefer has endured long after the end of the series.[35][36] The question has inspired commercials,[37] essays, videos, and a sermon.[38] By most accounts, the wholesome, down-to-earth Mary Ann has consistently outpolled Ginger by a sizable margin.[39] Bob Denver admitted he was a Mary Ann fan.[36] According to Bob Denver in a 2001 interview, Wells received 3,000–5,000 fan letters weekly, whereas Louise may have gotten 1,500 or 2,000.[40][41]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "MeTV Network - Shows - Gilligan's Island".
  2. The 140° latitude, 10° longitude coordinates are impossible, because latitude ranges from -90° to +90°.
  3. This would place the island in the Gulf of Thailand, which obviously does not comport with the series' back story.
  4. Flint, Peter B (January 4, 1990), "Alan Hale Jr., Who Was Skipper On 'Gilligan's Island,' Dies at 71", The New York Times, Mr. Hale's image as the Skipper persisted in the 1980s. After a day of golf, he often headed to Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel, a West Hollywood, California restaurant, where, wearing his skipper's cap, he greeted customers.
  5. Stoddard 1996, p. 190.
  6. Chance, Norman (2010). Who Was Who on TV. 1. Xlibris. p. 546. Retrieved September 25, 2011.
  7. Stoddard 1996, p. 10.
  8. Stoddard 1996, pp. 306–7.
  9. "MeTV Network -".
  11. "Denver", The New York Times, September 7, 2005.
  12. "CBS Studio Center". Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  13. WALSTAD, DAVID (August 7, 1995). "Civilization Takes Over 'Gilligan's' Lagoon : Television: The set of the 1960s sitcom is turned into an employee parking lot as CBS Studio Center adds production facilities". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 4, 2017.
  14. "Gilligan's Minnow no longer lost". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. August 28, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
  15. "Legal Tales from Gilligan's Island". Santa Clara Law Review & Jamail Center for Legal Research. Retrieved May 27, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 Russell Johnson with Steve Cox, Here on Gilligan's Isle, page 20 (1993).
  17. First season opening sequence of Gilligan's Island From YouTube. Retrieved on November 6, 2011.
  18. Fore, William F (1987). "Escape From Gilligan's Island". Retrieved April 14, 2011.
  19. Shales, Tom (February 8, 2004), "Hey, little buddy! 'Gilligan' DVD drifts into port", The Washington Post, p. N1, To his credit, star Bob Denver lobbied Schwartz and others to change the lyrics to the theme song after the second season, so all the characters and not just most of them were listed. Instead of the chorus singing ‘the movie star, and the rest,’ they sang, ‘the movie star, the professor and Mary Ann, here on Gilligan's isle!’
  20. Green. Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook.
  21. Lileth. "Was the "Gilligan's Island" theme song tampered with?". The Straight Dope. Cecil Adams. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  22. "Gilligan's Island Tidbits". The Fifties Web. Retrieved April 4, 2006.
  23. "Home Town Success Story". Bay views. Google Blogger. Retrieved September 17, 2014.
  24. "Gilligan's Island Theme". Gilligan’s isle. Retrieved October 17, 2009.
  25. "Gilligan's Island Full Cast and Crew". Retrieved August 5, 2010.
  26. "Stairway". The Official Gilligan's Island Fan Club. Retrieved March 18, 2011.
  27. "Bowling For Soup – Gilligan's Island Theme". You tube. Google.
  28. Stoddard 1996, p. 306.
  29. The Worst TV Shows Ever, Those TV Turkeys We Will Never Forget...(No Matter How Hard We Try) by Bart Andrews with Brad Dunning (1980).
  32. "Gilligan's Island".
  33. "Gilligan's Island TV Show Creator wants Michael Cera and Beyoncé for New Movie". January 2, 2009. Archived from the original on January 22, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-17. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  34. Warner Bros Sets Gilligan’s Island As Star Feature Vehicle For Josh Gad
  35. Gael Fashingbauer Cooper (October 18, 2012). "As Dawn Wells turns 74, the question remains: Ginger or Mary Ann?". Today. Retrieved September 25, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  36. 36.0 36.1 Rob Hiassen (September 29, 2007). "Author has left Ginger and 'Island' behind". The Baltimore Sun. (HighBeam subscription may be required)
  37. Budweiser Ginger or Mary Ann Retrieved on 2011-09-07
  38. Rev. Jeffrey Symynkywicz (June 5, 2005). "Ginger or Mary Ann?". Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-24. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help)
  39. Jim Slotek (January 16, 2014). "Russell Johnson on 'Gilligan's Island' in 1993 interview". Toronto Sun. USA Today carried a Ginger vs. Mary Ann fave poll and Dawn Wells' character had 85% of the vote
  40. Marc Silver (September 7, 2005). "So which one did Gilligan like best?". U.S. News and World Report. Archived from the original on December 26, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-24. Unknown parameter |deadurl= ignored (|url-status= suggested) (help); Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  41. "Ginger vs. Maryann". retroCRUSH. Retrieved April 2, 2012.


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  • Denver, Bob (November 1993). Gilligan, Maynard & Me. Carol Publishing. ISBN 0-8065-1413-2.
  • Green, Joey (April 1988). Unofficial Gilligan's Island Handbook. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-38668-5.
  • Johnson, Russell; Cox, Steve (July 1993). Here on Gilligan's Isle (1st ed.). Perennial. ISBN 0-06-096993-8.
  • Schwartz, Sherwood (April 15, 1994). Inside Gilligan's Island: A Three-Hour Tour Through The Making of A Television Classic. St. Martin's Griffin. ISBN 0-312-10482-0.
  • Stoddard, Sylvia (May 1996). TV Treasures – A Companion Guide to Gilligan's Island. New York: St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0-312-95797-1.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete First Season (DVD), 2004, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939673425.
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete Second Season (DVD), 2005, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939692624.
  • Gilligan's Island – The Complete Third Season (DVD), 2005, Turner Home Entertainment, UPC 053939733129.

External links[]

Template:Gilligan's Island Template:Sherwood Schwartz shows