Danielle McCarthy


6 surprising facts about Gilligan’s Island

6 surprising facts about Gilligan’s Island

Who knew that a three-and-a-half hour cruise could leave you stranded on an island with six strangers for years? And who knew that that particular idea would go on to make at least one person very, very wealthy? It’s been 50 years since the final episode was aired, but Gilligan’s Island is still popular around the world. We’ve done some digging to find some interesting facts you never knew about Gilligan, the Skipper, a millionaire and his wife, a movie star, the professor, and Mary Ann.

1. Blink and you’ll miss it

The show’s opening initially featured a shot of an American flag which was flying at half-mast. This footage was shot on the day President John F. Kennedy was killed.

2. “Take that, Minow!”

If, like us, you’ve often wondered how the SS Minnow got its name, you’re in luck – we finally have an answer. The show’s creator, Sherwood Schwartz (what a great name!) took a disliking to the Federal Communications Commission president – Newton Minow. The extra N was added to avoid potential litigation.

3. “Just Gilligan. Like Cher.”

In the original pitch, Gilligan was given the first name of Willy, but Bob Denver preferred that he was a one name kinda guy. Whenever Schwartz and Denver ran into each other in the years since, they would argue about it. 

4. Best friends forever

Did you know that the Skipper and Gilligan served in the navy together? According to the back story of the two, Gilligan once saved the Skipper’s life by pushing him out of the way of potential explosion. So, despite the fact that Gilligan often irritated the hell outta the Skipper, they were really best buddies.

5. The fortune that never was

For many years, Dawn Wells was said to have received millions of dollars in royalties thanks to the show’s syndication deal that saw episodes played around the world for the decades since it went off the air – something no other cast member received. But in 2016, Wells debunked the myth, revealing that each cast member was only paid $7,000 from the syndication deal. According to Wells, creator Sherwood Schwartz got the big pay-day, having made $90 million from the show.

6. Speaking of millionaires

The Millionaire’s Wife (Natalie Schafer) was already a millionaire before being cast in the show. She and her actor husband purchased property in Beverly Hills, and later sold it for massive profits. When she died, Schafer left her wealth to her poodle (she had no children), with instructions that when said pop died, the remaining money was to be given to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital. The hospital now has a “Natalie Schafer Wing”.

Quick facts

Some rapid-fire trivia titbits to keep in your back pocket:

  • John Williams wrote the theme song
  • Natalie Schafer did all her own stunts
  • Two post-series specials aired: Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, and Castaways on Gilligan’s Island
  • Tina Louise (Ginger) complained that she was never able to revive her career as a “serious actress” after Gilligan’s Island
Which was your favourite episode of Gilligan’s Island? Tell us in the comments below!

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