15 Facts About 'Gilligan's Island' Fans Didn't Know

Jordan Claes
Gilligan getting his ear pulled by the Skipper in 'Gilligan's Island'.

Although it only managed to stick around for three seasons, Gilligan's Island was, and remains to this day, one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time.

There's just something about the endearing idiocracy of the S.S. Minnow's First Mate that never gets old. So in order to help us all gain a deeper appreciation, here are 15 facts about Gilligan's Island that fans didn't know.

The original pilot failed to impress the executives at CBS.

The Skipper about to punch Gilligan in 'Gilligan's Island'.

In order to shake things up, the original actors who portrayed the Professor and Ginger were fired, as well as a woman playing a secretary named Bunny. Bunny later became Mary-Ann.

Tina Louise was a lot like Ginger in real life.

Mary-Ann and Ginger on 'Gilligan's Island'.

The reason why Tina was able to so expertly portray a stuck-up film star was due to the fact that she was one, herself. She often butted heads with her fellow castmates and would isolate herself in-between scenes.

There's a satirical novel based on 'Gilligan's Island' and it provides all the characters with a dark backstory.

bob Denver as Gilligan on 'Gilligan's Island'.
Giphy | TV Land Classic

For example, in the book, Gilligan receives painful electroshock therapy in a psych hospital. Mary-Ann carries on an illicit affair, and the Professor was one of the main consultants in the Manhattan Project.

Two of the show's primary cast members are noticeably absent from the show's original theme song.

Fans will no doubt recall that the song ends with "The Professor and Mary-Ann; here on Gilligan's Island." But in the original, the lyrics end with "The movie star, and the rest are here on Gilligan's Island."

Alan Hale pulled out all the stops in order to audition for the Skipper.

The Professor, Skipper, and Gilligan talking in 'Gilligan's Island'.
Giphy | TV Land Classic

At the time, Hale was already filming Bullet for a Bad Man, and as a result, was unable to get time off. Therefore, he had to sneak away via horseback and relied on hitch-hiking to take him the rest of the way.

Some viewers thought that the show was real!

The Professor and Gilligan in 'Gilligan's Island'.

They believed it so blindly, that a small handful actually took the time to write telegrams to the US Coast Guard. They demanded that at least one ship be spared in order to help look for the poor castaways.

Gilligan was actually the character's last name, not his first.

Gilligan laughing on 'Gilligan's Island'.
Giphy | TV Land Classic

According to show creator Sherwood Schwartz, Gilligan's name in the pilot episode was Willy Gilligan. However, this is a fact that Bob Denver himself would always refute, stating that the character's name was and always had been, Gilligan.

The cast made appearances on other classic TV shows.

Kids of the '80s and '90s will no doubt remember ALF — the lovable cat-eating alien life form. During one memorable episode, Bob Denver, Alan Hale Jr., Russell Johnson, and Dawn Wells all made cameo appearances, in character.

The theme song for the pilot episode was written by John Williams.

In case the name doesn't immediately ring a bell, John Williams is the composer behind such iconic themes as Jaws, Jurassic Park, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Star Wars.

The assassination of JFK delayed filming.

JFK giving a speech.
Giphy | US National Archives

The last day of filming the pilot episode was slated for November 23, 1963, in Honolulu Harbor. After JFK was killed, it was announced that all military installations would be closed for a period of mourning.

Jerry Van Dyke turned down the role of Gilligan.

Gilligan and Ginger on 'Gilligan's Island'.

While it's hard to imagine anyone but Bob Denver in the role, originally Van Dyke was tapped to play the part but refused due to the fact that it was an ensemble cast.

There were two animated spin-off series.

Scene from 'The New Adventures Of Gilligan'.
Giphy | Warner Archive

During the 1970s, cartoons based on live-action sitcoms were all the rage. As such, The New Adventures of Gilligan as well as the ill-fated Gilligan's Planet were born — the second of which lasted only 13 episodes.

Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) was actually a cheapskate in real life.

Thurston Howell III in 'Gillgan's Island'.

"Jim Backus was cheap,” Dawn Wells told the Los Angeles Times. “He would take Natalie and I to lunch and say, ‘I forgot my wallet.’ I think the first year, Natalie presented him with a bill for $300 and told him, ‘This is what you owe us.’”

There have been six different women to portray Ginger.

Ginger in a white dress on 'Gilligan's Island'.

Tina Louise is undoubtedly the best-known portrayal, but she wasn't the first. In the pilot episode, Kit Smythe played the part, and after Louise stepped off the island for good, Judith Baldwin was her replacement. Jane Webb, Dawn Wells, and Constance Forslund also chipped in at various times/iterations.

The city of Denver gets its namesake from Bob Denver's family tree.

Gilligan and the Skipper in 'Gilligan's Island'.

The Colorado capital was named for James William Denver, Bob Denver's great-great-grandfather. While he was alive, James was a soldier, a politician, as well as a lawyer.