Gilligan's Island


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A History of Gilligan's Island

Common themes found in the show

How well did Gilligan's Island do and when did it run?

The words to the theme song

Mary Ann or Ginger?
An enduring question

A History of Gilligan's Island

Gilligan's Island was a comedy produced by Sherwood Schwartz for three seasons on CBS between September 1964 and September 1967. There are a total of ninety-eight episodes with the first season in black and white. The pilot was filmed on the island of Kauai, the oldest island in the Hawaiian chain. The rest of the series was filmed on a back lot at CBS Studios. The lagoon that was built was next to the Hollywood Freeway. The last two seasons were filmed in color.

This comedy was based on the failed attempts to be rescued from a deserted island and the conflicts that arose among the seven castaways.

The theme song at the beginning of each episode neatly explained how these seven people became stranded on their deserted island. The first year the song did not credit Dawn Wells or Russell Johnson - these two were referred to "and the rest" in the song. Their contracts did not specify they would be credited up front, therefore were left out. This was corrected in the second season. Bob Denver, the actor who played Gilligan was behind this change.

The show had success while running for three years, but it truly became pop culture when it was syndicated.

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Common Themes in the Show


The lagoon played a large part in this series. Gilligan's Island had several themes that were repeated throughout it's three year run on television and several of them revolved around the lagoon.

One of the themes was the arrival of strange objects. These strange objects always showed up in the lagoon. One of these strange objects that arrived was a crate of vegetables that was radioactive. For instance, when Mary Ann ate the carrots, she had the capability of seeing cruise ships far off in the distance which got everyone thinking they'd be rescued soon. Gilligan ate spinach which made him stronger than Superman. Then there was the time the WWII land mine showed up in the lagoon. It was highly magnetic and could blow up at any time. The Professor with his amazing ability to solve anything except fix a hole in the boat knew how to disarm the mine thereby saving everyone.

Visitors were another theme that revolved around the lagoon. Invariably, these visitors, if showing up by boat, would arrive at the lagoon. What was astounding is that these visitors could find this remote island in the Pacific and none of them were willing or able to assist in a rescue. A few of these visitors looked exactly like some of the castaways, so when they left, these impostors decided to take over their life on the mainland. This happened to Thurston Howell III, the millionaire and it happened to Ginger Grant, the movie star when plain Eva Grub, received a glamorous makeover and looked exactly like her.

You also had visitors who were malevolent like Jonathan Kincaid who spent twenty-fours hours hunting Gilligan. A not so malevolent hunter was Lord Beasely. He came to the island to hunt for the elusive pussycat swallowtail, a very rare butterfly.

The very famous band, the "Mosquitos", came to visit for some quiet time. The castaways wanted to be rescued so badly that Lovey (Howell), Ginger, and Mary Ann formed their own band to impress the "Mosquitos". They sounded so good that the "Mosquitos" left them behind because there was already enough competition in the world. They didn't need more.

The third theme was about general life on the island. What did these seven castaways do to make life more comfortable on their island? The Skipper organized the building of their homes, huts that were made of bamboo and palm leaves that could miraculously withstand hurricane strength winds. The Professor invented a way to recharge batteries that went to their radio by using coconuts. Gilligan designed a bathtub with running hot water. In the last season they even had a push pedal car.

News from the outside world would disrupt tranquil life on the island. They would get news from the AM radio and often this news would be about themselves! There was the time that Thurston Howell III supposedly lost all of his money in the stock market. This upset him terribly and the whole show was about how life wasn't worth living without his money. In the end, it was reported that there was an error and he still had all of his money. There was also news about an imposter spending all of his money frivolously.Then there was the time that the radio announcer stated that the minister that married Thurston and Lovey was a fraud. The whole show was based on bringing the two back together and in love again. Of course, the news caster at the end of the show announced that an error had been made and that their minister had been mixed up with a different one.

The Skipper had his share of bad news on the radio as well. He was wanted for questioning for the wreck of the S. S. Minnow. In the end he was completely cleared of any wrong doing.


The last theme was a dream theme. This was a very popular theme in the last season. If something was on one of the castaway's minds, it would be developed through having a dream. An example of this was when there was a shortage of fruits that produce vitamin C on the island. In Gilligan's dream, he was sent by his mother who was played by Lovey to buy oranges. Instead, Gilligan bought some seeds from a con man played by Thurston. A seed was planted and a huge beanstalk grew. He climbed the beanstalk and discovered a giant who was played by Skipper. He was guarding oranges. The maid in charge of the castle was Mary Ann. The Professor played an imprisoned old man and Ginger played an imprisoned old lady who turned into a beautiful woman after a kiss. The photo on the right depicts a scene from a dream about pirates and Admiral Gilligan has to protect the women and his ship from being overrun. The pirates were Mr. Howell, the Skipper and the Professor.

Out of all of the themes played out on Gilligan's Island, the cast enjoyed the dream themes most of all.

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How well did Gilligan's Island do & When did it run?

Nielson Ratings and T.V. Schedule
SeasonEpisodePremiereFinaleTime SlotRankHouseholds
36September 26, 1964June 12, 1965Saturday-8:30p1724.713,227,700
32September 16, 1965April 28, 1966Thursdays-8:00p1922.411,900,850
30September 12, 1966April 17, 1967Mondays-7:30pNot in top 30N/AN/A

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The words to the theme song on Gilligan's Island

Just sit right back
And you'll hear a tale
A tale of a fateful trip,
That started from this tropic port,
Aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
The Skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day,
For a three hour tour,
A three hour tour.

The weather started getting rough,
The tiny ship was tossed.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew
The Minnow would be lost.
The Minnow would be lost.

The ship set ground on the shore
Of this uncharted desert isle
With Gilligan,
The Skipper too.
The millionaire
And his wife,
The movie star,
The professor and Mary Ann,
Here on Gilligan's Isle.

(Ending verse)

So this is the tale of our castaways,
They're here for a long long time.
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.

The first mate and his Skipper too
Will do their very best,
To make the others comf'terble
In their tropic island nest.

No phone, no lights, no motor car,
Not a single luxury
Like Robinson Crusoe
It's primitive as can be.

So join us here each week my friends,
You're sure to get a smile,
From seven stranded castaways
Here on Gilligan's Isle!

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Who do you prefer? Mary Ann or Ginger?


This question has been bouncing around since the inception of Gilligan's Island. Who do you prefer? Mary Ann was the sweet innocent girl next door whom you would like to take home to Mom. Ginger was the fiery sexpot redhead who when walking down the street would attract catcalls and whistles.

These women are pop culture opposites which makes this question so much fun!

Mary Ann has historically outpolled Ginger in a ratio of approximately three to one. Mary Ann on average received between three thousand to three thousand five hundred letters weekly while Ginger received between one thousand five hundred and two thousand letters weekly from fans.

Rumor has it that this used to upset Tina Louise, who played Ginger.

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