Gilligan's Island was an American TV sitcom which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967. Early episodes were filmed in black-and-white; later episodes in color. The show's theme song, The Ballad of Gilligan's Island begins:
- Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip...
and was intentionally written in such a way as to give new viewers a capsule summary of the unusual situation the castaways find themselves in. Another verse was played over the closing credits, after the invariably unsuccessful attempts of the castaways to leave the island.
The Gilligan of the show's name is the hapless deckhand of the S.S. Minnow, the ship whose ill-fated cruise created the series. Other characters are the 'Skipper' (referred to as Jonas Grumby in the pilot), the 'Professor' (referred to as Roy Hinkley in the pilot), millionaires Mr. and Mrs. Thurston J. Howell III, movie star Ginger Grant, and Kansas farm girl Mary Ann Summers. The show's plots often revolved around the characters' failed attempts to get off the island where they have been shipwrecked.
As Ginger Grant, actress Tina Louise created a version of the quintessential Hollywood star and even her name, an amalgam of Ginger Rogers and Cary Grant, was an homage to Hollywood's past. The character was originally written as a sarcastic and sharp-tongued temptress but Louise argued that this type of character was too extreme and refused to play it as written. A compromise was reached and Louise agreed to play her as a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Lucille Ball. The evening gowns and hair style used was designed to recreate the look of Myrna Loy. Louise continued to clash with producers and was the only cast member who refused to return for any of the TV movies that followed the series cancellation, saying that the role had destroyed her career as a serious actress.
In Episode 96, "The Pigeon", the island is said to be located 300 miles southeast of Honolulu. The Great circle geodetic equation places this at 18.2N 154.7W, only 75 miles from the Big Island. In one episode the fictional professor quoted an exact position of 10N 110W, which is generally discounted as it places the island closer to Mexico and 3100 miles from Hawaii. The actual filming took place at 34.1N 118.7W, in Echo Park in Los Angeles.
The Professor is a genius able to construct practically anything from palm fronds and coconuts, but he is unable to build a boat. Another strange and puzzling fact is that the S.S. Minnow was on a three hour tour—so why did the passengers carry all of their luggage on the trip? Both of these facts were parodied in Weird Al's "Isle Thing": "I like the Professor / he'd always save their butts. / He could build a nuclear reactor / from a couple of coconuts. / She said, 'That man's a genius!' / I shook my head and laughed. / I said, 'If he's so fly / then tell me why / he couldn't build a lousy raft! / And while we're on the subject / I'll tell you one thing for sure: / those homeboys sure brought an awful lot / for just a three-hour tour!'"
Another aspect of the show is the frequency with which the island is visited by other persons who do nothing to affect the castaways' rescue. In various episodes they are encountered by Polynesian natives with access to two-way radio, a Hollywood producer, a rock and roll band (portrayed by The Wellingtons, the group which performed the theme song), an exiled South American dictator, a mad scientist, and daffy aviator "Wrong-Way Feldman" (obviously based on the real-life story of "Wrong Way" Corrigan), among others; all proved either unwilling or unable to disclose the existence of the castaways and their location. Some had ulterior motives, such as the producer (portrayed by guest star Phil Silvers), who stole the castaways' idea for a musical version of Hamlet and did not want them to appear to claim credit or royalties; others, such as Feldman, proved too incredible to be believed or were totally unable to give directions to where they had been so that the castaways could be located and rescued.
According to the show's creator and cast the name "S.S. Minnow" was actually named after Newton Minow, who was chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission in 1961. In a much-publicized speech, he called television a "vast wasteland." The boat was named after the man who, Gilligan's Island producer Sherwood Schwartz insists, "ruined television." Minow gave networks authority and placed the power of programming in the hands of the networks. He did this after Gilligan's Island was started.
The last new episode of the show aired on September 4, 1967. In the series, the castaways never succeeded in leaving the island. However, in a later made for TV movie, the castaways did successfully leave the island, but they had difficulty reintegrating into society, and were marooned there once again.
In another, later TV movie, they were rescued once again, and the Howells converted the island into a getaway resort which was saved due to the timely intervention of the Harlem Globetrotters.
|•||Gilligan||– Bob Denver|
|•||Skipper Jonas Grumby||– Alan Hale|
|•||Thurston Howell III||– Jim Backus|
|•||Eunice "Lovey" Wentworth Howell||– Natalie Schafer|
|•||Ginger Grant||– Tina Louise|
|•||Professor Roy Hinkley Jr,||– Russell Johnson|
|•||Mary Ann Summers||– Dawn Wells|