The reason some people fall for the “You just won the lottery — click here!” scam, is because sometimes people forget that things that seem too absurd to be true probably are. This was exactly the case when over the years, the show’s creator Sherwood Schwartz would occasionally receive letters from worried fans of the show who actually believed the cast of the show was actually stuck on a deserted island.
One of these very outlandish letters spoke about how the islanders kept witnessing “stranded” Americans on the Pacific Island and how they were baffled that no one was rescuing them.
A sad, short scene
Jim Backus did have one short scene in “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island.” Backus himself insisted he was healthy enough for a short cameo, and Schwartz wrote him in during the denouement.
Both Sherwood Schwartz and Dawn Wells recalled how emotional it was to see Backus, visibly weakened from Parkinson's. After he finished his scene, he went over the Wells and asked, “Was I funny?” Reportedly the question broke Wells's heart since he was so weak he could hardly tell if he had done well or not. As Backus left the set with his wife, an emotional round of applause followed him out.
Thurston Howell was definitely into older women
During the filming of Gilligan’s Island, actress Natalie Schafer lied about her age and claimed she was 10 years younger than she actually was. She played Lovey Howell, the rich Thurston’s wife. What the fans didn’t know was that Schafer was apparently a decade older than Jim Backus, who played as Thurton.
In order to make sure fans of the show didn’t notice the age gap, Schafer added a clause in her contract stating that she doesn’t want to appear in any close-ups. The trick worked, and nobody seemed to notice the hidden age difference.
Gilligan’s Island wasn’t actually filmed on an island
Although this may come as a surprise to some and as an obvious fact to others, the show wasn’t actually filmed on an island. Instead, a set was built especially for the show on CBS’s Studio City in California. The show was originally intended to be filmed in Malibu, but due to fog issues and other problems, the show’s set was eventually moved.
As with any production, the studio faced various difficulties from problems with low water temperatures, the sounds of traffic from a nearby freeway, and other expected setbacks in such a unique and imaginary location. Fortunately, the show proceeded as planned, and all that effort was worth the trouble it took from the cast and the production.
Actress Raquel Welch almost got a part in the show
Before Dawn Wells was cast as Mary Ann, the girl-next-door type who everyone loves to love, the show’s executives were trying to replace some characters that weren’t flying with the test audiences. At some point, the studio decided to change the secretary character into a movie actress.
The late actress Raquel Welch did her best to audition for the part, but the studio eventually decided to go with Dawn Wells for the role of Mary Ann Summers, the beautiful and indispensable actress, who grew up in Kanzas — a reference to the 1939 classic movie The Wizard of Oz. And after Dawn Wells’s performance in the show, we don’t think anyone’s complaining.