Lovey and Thurston Howell, the millionaire couple, were extremely wealthy in the show. Apparently, the actress Natalie Schafer wasn’t just rich in the show; she was actually extremely wealthy in her real life too. Her investments, particularly those in real estate, had made her a millionaire.
When she died, she left a sizable amount of her fortune to her poodle since she had no children, and the money was to be donated to the Motion Picture & Television Fund hospital after the poodle died. Sources state that most of this fortune was bequeathed to Gilligan’s Island costar Dawn Wells, who essentially had served as Natalie’s caretaker during her fight with breast cancer.
One actress turned the show into a source of passive income (that still works today)
When the original actors signed on, their contracts guaranteed them a certain amount of money per episode plus payment for the first five repeats of each one. Well, Dawn Wells, whose husband was a talent agent at the time, gave her a smart tip that would work in her favor.
The studio happily agreed to this clause because they figured that nobody’s going to watch this show more than 50 years past its original airing time. To our amazement, it seems that the only ones still receiving royalties from the show are the family of the late Sherwood Schwartz and Dawn Wells. This is the kind of stuff that you don’t learn in school, kids.
Production notes from space
For “Gilligan's Planet,” the theme song was recycled from “The New Adventures of Gilligan,” with updated lyrics to explain the new setting. Sherwood Schwartz, who was heavily involved with the “New Adventures” series, was not as involved for the second animated series.
Two of the show's primary writers, Tom Ruegger and Paul Dini, went on to be huge writers in animated television. Ruegger was part of “Animaniacs,” “Pinky and the Brain,” and “Tiny Toon Adventures,” while Dini did a great deal more, including “Batman: The Animated Series.” He was even part of the writing team for several of the Batman Arkham games from Rocksteady, and the show “Freakazoid.”
Dawn Wells's Singing Was So Bad That She Wasn’t Allowed to Sing
If there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that nobody’s perfect. We thought that rule was broken by the beautiful and talented Dawn Wells until learning that she was effectively tone deaf and couldn’t sing to save her life. Apparently, her singing was so bad that she was not allowed to join the cast during their group songs (like the time the castaway gang sang “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow”.)
In fact, Dawn’s singing was so bad that it actually made everyone else unable to sing on the notes. The production team decided to dub over her singing using the voice of singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon. Her real singing voice was only used once during a season 3 episode "The Second Ginger Grant," where her awful voice was part of the actual plot.
A rescue averted
In one memorable episode, famous actress Zsa Zsa Gabor appeared as a fellow castaway, who was rescued by the Navy at the end of the episode. When asked about whether or not her character, Erika Tiffany Smith, would help rescue the main cast, producers explained that while she had written as many details as she could in her diary, she had written it in Hungarian, which nobody in the Navy could read.
In addition, she had no idea about the exact longitude and latitude of the island. The sailor who had brought her to the island could have told people the location, but he “suffered a major coronary and died.”