As the third of three movies to feature (most of) the “Gilligan’s Island” cast, the final one had a bit of a strange addition. “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island” has the characters from the show running a vacation spot on the island where they spent so long, recreating their experience for paying customers.
Who should come to visit but The Harlem Globetrotters, who have their plane crash on the island? They’re played by the real Globetrotters at the time, and the movie sees them square off against the castaways. To nobody’s surprise, they won. But then came the robots. It was just one of many media properties the Globetrotters showed up in.
Russell Johnson was a World War II veteran
Our favorite inventor, the Professor, was played by Russell Johnson. Despite being on the softer side and not very outspoken, the actor himself was actually a World War II veteran and served in the United States Army Air Force as an aviation cadet. Russel went on to receive a purple heart for all of his contributions to the air force while in the Philippines.
After finishing his service, he used his GI Bill to fund his acting lessons before eventually signing on to Gilligan’s Island as the beloved Professor. Johnson was married three times and had a relatively light acting career after Gilligan’s Island. He eventually died from kidney failure at his home in Bainbridge Island, Washington, on January 16, 2014, at the very respectable age of 89.
Edited for syndication
When the show originally aired, the ending had a narration, telling viewers, “So join us here each week, my friends, you're sure to get a smile....” However, when the show moved to syndication, the “each week” portion was edited out in order not to confuse viewers who didn't know the show would be on the very next day – or even on the following slot.
In addition, when Ted Turner bought the series, he colorized the black-and-white first season for airing on TBS. Both the original and the colorized versions were shown during syndication. Not much colorization work had been done at that point, and the process was intense.
The belly button timer
While the styles and looks of the show are now pretty dated, it was quite well known for the amount of fanservice it showed. A famous “Mary Ann or Ginger” question, about which gal people preferred, was a popular ask.
Mary Ann's outfit was quite daring for the time, and one of the show's biggest controversies was exactly how many seconds of Mary Ann's belly button could be visible in a season, how times have changed. This was the exact same problem that plagued “I Dream of Jeannie.”
As is common for shows even nowadays, two actors that played characters on the pilot found themselves on the way out before the show got picked up and started regular shooting.
Kit Smythe was the original red-haired girl to play Ginger until Tina Louise took the helm (and then gave the helm up). Before Russell Johnson stepped into the role of the brilliant professor, it was a man named John Gabriel who first had the spot. However, the network thought that he looked too young to have all the degrees the professor supposedly had. You might know Gabriel as his role as Seneca Beaulac in “Ryan's Hope.”