The original script for the third and final “Gilligan’s Island” movie was almost very different. NBC executives thought it would be a good idea to have members of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders appear on the island in one way or another, and series creator Sherwood Schwartz liked the idea.
There was going to be a two-hour movie based on the premise, but before the script was completed, NBC informed Schwartz that the cheerleaders wouldn’t be available. The second option from the executives was the Harlem Globetrotters, which was accepted and went through to become a finished product.
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.
Mary Ann was a symbol of hope for Vietnam veterans
Everyone loved Mary Ann, especially men, and even more so the men who fought in Vietnam and were looking for a symbol of hope and positivity that would help them keep going. During a Forbes interview, Dawn Wells let us know that she was told by many people how Mary Ann’s character provided a refuge for Vietnam War vets at the time.
Dawn said, “You know, many vets from Vietnam have said that Mary Ann kept them going, helping them make it through, kept them positive and focused on returning safely. They kept my picture in their helmets. I have the utmost respect for what it takes to be one of America’s finest, and am very thankful for what they do.”
We almost got to see Jayne Mansfield in Gilligan’s Island
When it was decided that Ginger would be a movie star instead of a secretary, famous Marilyn Monroe-like actress Jayne Mansfield was approached to play the part of the fiery and soon-to-be sex-symbol character, Ginger. Jayne dismissed the offer following the advice of her third husband and went on to become a nightclub entertainer and a singer and one of the early Playboy Playmates.
Jayne was also the first major American actress in a Hollywood film to have a nude scene in the film Promises! Promises! Sadly, her career was cut short early, as she was killed in a car accident in 1967. To recognize her life’s work, the Hollywood Publicists Guild declared a "Jayne Mansfield Award" would be given to the actress who received the most exposure and publicity in a year.