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

Updated September 23, 2021 162k views15 items

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.

  • 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. 

  • Natalie Schafer Really Was A Millionaire

    Natalie Schafer, Lovey Howell herself, found her way into millions of dollars before Gilligan's Island ever hit the airwaves. She and her husband invested in Beverly Hills real estate before its value rocketed in the late 1940s and '50s. Schafer even said (perhaps jokingly) that the only reason she took the part in Gilligan's Island was to get a free trip to Hawaii.

    Whatever way Schafer spent her fortune, she ended up leaving large portions to her poodle and the Motion Picture and Television Hospital.

  • A Lot Of The Original Cast Got Replaced

    The original pilot for Gilligan's Island failed to please CBS executives, and they insisted on many changes. They fired the original actors for the Professor and Ginger along with a woman playing "Bunny," a secretary. Bunny was changed to Mary Ann, and all three parts were recast.

    Other interesting actors considered for the pilot were Jerry Van Dyke (Coach) as Gilligan and Carroll O'Connor (All in the Family) as the Skipper.