Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From The Set Of 'Gilligan's Island'

Gilligan's Island made a splash during its three-season run in the 1960s and it remains a beloved TV show even 50 years later. Making Gilligan's Island, however, proved sometimes as rocky as the storm that marooned those poor castaways all those years ago. Injuries, tragedies, and contract disputes are part of Gilligan's behind-the-scenes history, but so are golden friendships and sly creativity. Gilligan's Island, for all its lighthearted fun, actually comes with a few darker political undertones than you might expect from a show with a laugh track.

The Gilligan's Island cast didn't always get along, and fights were just as common as they are on the set of any TV show. It all adds up to some funny, unbelievable Hollywood stories from one of the most beloved shows of all time. The best Gilligan's Island behind-the-scenes stories offer a type of entertainment that's just as fascinating as the series itself.

  • A Lion Leaped At Bob Denver

    In one episode, Gilligan finds himself trapped inside a hut with a lion. In actuality, the lion on set was pretty ferocious - Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, noticed that even its trainer was covered in marks from the animal's claws.

    When it came time for Gilligan to notice the lion, the animal made a lunge at actor Bob Denver, who instinctively started karate chopping. Fortunately, the lion trainer ran onto the set and tackled the lion mid-leap.

  • Alan Hale Jr. Once Performed With A Sore Arm For 3 Weeks

    At the end-of-filming wrap party for the first season of the show, Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper) mentioned to Sherwood Schwartz that he was happy he could finally mend his arm. When Schwartz asked what he meant, Hale casually responded that he broke it three weeks prior.

    Hale apparently missed a safety pad when falling out of a tree, but he didn't want to miss filming days, so he kept it quiet. Schwartz was especially shocked because Hale had been carrying bags of coconuts and even Bob Denver while in character - apparently while in pain. 

  • JFK's Passing Temporarily Delayed Filming

    The Gilligan's Island pilot shot in Hawaii during late 1963, with the last day of filming set to take place in a local naval base. Unfortunately, the planned day was November 23, one day after President John F. Kennedy perished. The government closed the base down for two days, preventing the TV crew from finishing until almost December.

    A flag flying at half-mast in honor of the former president appears in the first season's opening credits.

  • Tina Louise Reportedly Quarreled With The Rest Of The Cast

    If reports are to be believed, Tina Louise possibly became a little too serious about her role as self-absorbed movie star Ginger, because she clashed with the other cast members early and often. A 1965 TV Guide article said, "Between scenes, while the other six principals chat and tell jokes together, she sits off by herself."

    Things failed to improve decades later; Louise refused to return for a series of reunion movies.

  • The Coast Guard Received Telegrams Asking Them To Rescue The Island's Inhabitants

    Sherwood Schwartz received a huge surprise from none other than the US Coast Guard during Gilligan's Island's humble beginnings. Apparently, concerned citizens began contacting the Coast Guard asking them to "rescue these poor people... "

    Though the count of telegrams amounted to only a handful of messages, Schwartz still felt dumbstruck by them, writing: "There was even a laugh track on the show. Who did they think was laughing at the survivors...? It boggled my mind."

  • Jim Backus Was Actually Kind Of Cheap

    Jim Backus, who played millionaire Thurston Howell III, was known to be generous with his time, often cracking jokes on set.

    When it came to his money, things were apparently different. Backus would often take Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) and Natalie Schafer (Lovey Howell) out to lunch, only to conveniently forget his wallet and ask the two ladies to pay. Down the line, Schafer ceremoniously presented Backus with a bill for $300 - the total for all those lunches.