Gilligan’s Island was back in the news recently with an animated remake scheduled to be released by Netflix this month. That hasn’t happened yet and comes on the heels of an aborted Fox remake of the series back in 2019. Since the pilot and first episode were both filmed on Kauai back in the 1960s at Moloaa Beach, it remains a part of our island history.
The new Gilligan’s Island will be a computer-animated comedy-adventure film based on the original TV series. The new film was written and directed by Jon Favreau. Stars are said to include Seth Rogen, James Franco, Ben Kingsley, Meghan Trainor, Emily Blunt, Jonah Hill, Amy Adams, and Andy Samberg. The film’s plot follows the castaways following their island shipwreck.
For those of you old enough to remember, the iconic comedy TV show starring Bob Denver, comprised of nearly 100 episodes, and which has amassed an enormous fan club, ran from 1964 to 1967 and is widely associated with Hawaii.
Be sure to watch the opening of the vintage Gilligan’s Island pilot episode we have featured at the end of this post. If you were a fan of the show, it’s really weird to see!
The theme song with which we became familiar, the plot, and the words, “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, is for many of us, indelible.
And now I have a trivia question – is Tina Louise the oldest cast member living?
Remember that Gilligan’s Island actress Dawn Wells died of COVID in 2020. A former Miss America contestant, Wells played Mary Ann Summers, the youngest in the cast of four men and three women. That leaves only one cast member remaining, Tina Louise, who played Ginger and is now 87 years old, or does it?
Actually, the actor who played a dictator for one episode in the second season, Nehemiah Persoff, is still alive at 102 years of age. Persoff appeared in more than 200 television series, plays, and films in his 50-year career.
What was to have been Jane Mansfield’s role?
Tina played Ginger on the show, and is the only surviving regular actor of the original cast, following Dawn Wells’ death. It has been more than 50 years since she starred in the role that had been offered to Jane Mansfield who turned it down for fear it would end her career.
Since then, Tina Lousie has, in addition to her family, remained an actress, and an author. Even before the popularity and fame associated with this show, Tina was an accomplished stage and screen actress. That has continued. She performed in shows including The Stepford Wives, Dallas, and The Wrecking Crew. She co-starred with Stephen Baldwin in the 2019 film Tapestry.
Gilligan’s Island | On Oahu and Kauai.
The opening scene of the series was filmed at Coconut Isle in Kaneohe Bay. Also known as Mokuoloe, and pictured below, the small island serves as a research facility for marine biology and is a short swim off of Oahu.
The island, now about 28 acres in size, was previously just 12 acres. In the 1930’s owner and Fleishmann yeast heir, Chris Holmes II, created more islands using sand, coral rubble, and other landfills. He housed many pets. Later, during WW2, the island was a rest station for US Navy flyers. In the 1940s, it was purchased by a group wishing to create an exclusive and private resort for visitors, Coconut Island Club International. The concept failed, and in 1950, the 32-room Coconut Island Hotel opened. Part of the island had already been donated to the University of Hawaii for marine research.
Series pilot and the first episode of Gilligan’s Isle filmed on Kauai.
Many think of the show being filmed here on Kauai, but that is not the case. Only the pilot was filmed on Kauai, at Moloaa Beach. The remaining episodes were at CBS in Studio City, California. Before settling on the Kauai location, Catalina Island was under consideration, but ultimately they chose Kauai for its tropical splendor and palm trees.
A rumor has existed that star Natalie Schafer, who played Lovey Howell, said she would only play millionaire Thurston Howell’s (played by Jim Backus) wife if she could have a free trip to Hawaii. In her later years, Dawn Wells was Natalie’s caretaker.
The crew arrived here on the tropic island Kauai in November 1963, when the crew stayed at the iconic Coco Palms Hotel one of the best places to stay at that time. They later also stayed at the Hanalei Plantation Resort, which was the location of Club Med Kauai.
The boat used for the SS Minnow and its 3-hour tour was towed to Kauai from Honolulu for the filming.
Alan Hale. The skipper.
The tough and curmudgeonly boat captain who was host to the passengers, later became a restauranteur, owning the LA based The Lobster barrel. He died in 1990 at age 68.
If you ever watched the pilot episode, see below. There is a different theme song with a Calypso melody, and the roles of Ginger, Mary Ann, and the Professor did not exist. Instead, two secretaries and a high school teacher were played by different actors than in the series.
And so it went. From 1964 to 1967.
A tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship. The mate was a mighty sailing 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
If you have any Gilligan’s Island trivia, be sure to comment.
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