It’s not a coincidence that each of the show’s characters has a unique personality, history, and style. Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, intended from the beginning to create a diverse cast of characters that would each represent a different relatable part of society, from the rich and successful Thurston Howell to the inventive Professor Roy Hinkley.
The goal of this large difference in characters was to make the show thought-provoking rather than just funny. The dynamics of the cast, their need to find different ways to live together and make the best of the situation was a brilliant plot tool. It made for some extremely funny, but also very deep and rewarding, experiences.
The wife had a few roles
Bob Denver's wife, Dreama Denver, had a few roles during both the running of the show and the last movie. During the original series, she had a role in a single episode as a cavewoman that had been hiding on the island since prehistoric times.
During “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island,” she reappeared as Lucinda, the overly-punctual secretary for Mrs. Howell. Other than these small roles and an appearance in the TV movie “Scamps,” Dreama didn't act much. She did appear in several episodes of shows like “Entertainment Tonight” about “Gilligan's Island.” She also published a book about her marriage to Bob.
The legacy of the show is still felt by the cast
Even though Gilligan’s Island officially ended almost a decade ago, the now senior stars still find themselves in various situations that remind them just how big of an impact the show had on the entertainment culture. Bob Denver recalls taking his wife out to a fancy dinner restaurant in Chicago. The band for that night was playing classical music. Upon entering the restaurant, they decided to change the score, and suddenly began playing “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Island.”
Another funny thing happened in 2001 when Russell Johnson was invited to speak at a biochemical conference in San Francisco (despite not being an actual professor). He recalls meeting 400-500 Ph.D.’s there and in his words, “every one of them was a Gilligan’s Island fan.” It sounds like a spectacular experience.
The second animated show
After the relative success of the first animated adaptation of “Gilligan's Island,” the rights' owners decided to take another crack at it, this time creating a show called “Gilligan's Planet.” Once again, the main cast is trapped somewhere with no way off, but this time it's an entire planet.
It was one of the last Saturday morning cartoons to have an adult laugh track, as the practice was falling out of favor. In the show, the professor creates an interplanetary spaceship to get the castaways off the island, making it an official alternate continuity. Their bad luck continues when the ship crashes on another planet.
A long road to climb
Sherwood Schwartz wouldn't give up when it came to pitching the show. Nobody who was part of the original team seemed to like the show, even while filming the pilot. The pilot was rejected by CBS, but Schwartz didn't give up. He plunged ahead despite the negativity, eventually turning the show into one of the most popular comedies of all time.
One documentary about the show revealed the higher-ups had no idea why the show was popular and tried to keep pushing changes onto the cast and crew. One of the most famous examples of these changes was giving Gilligan a pet dinosaur, which thankfully didn't go through.