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10 Facts You Didn't Know About 'Gilligan's Island'

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip!

Gilligan's Island was one of the best TV shows ever to grace the airwaves. Gilligan's antics, Skipper's cynicism, the professor's perpetually unbuttoned shirt...it had the potential to run forever.

But there are a few things you probably didn't know about the show! Check out these cool facts about Gilligan's Island and let the memories wash over you!

1. It was intended to be a "metaphorical shaming of world politics."

The producer of Gilligan's Island, Sherwood Schwartz, was in a public speaking class when the professor had them compose one-minute speeches on "If you were stranded on a desert island, what one item would you like to have?" Schwartz was so intrigued by this question it stuck with him all through his writing years.

2. Gilligan's first name is Willy

This was a point of contention between Bob Denver (Gilligan) and Sherwood Schwartz. Denver insists that his first name is Gilligan, but Schwartz says in the original presentation of the show, his name was Willy Gilligan.

3. Jerry Van Dyke turned down the role of Gilligan.

Schwartz says Van Dyke was his first choice for the lead character, but after he read the script, Jerry said it was "the worst thing I'd ever read." Instead, he took the lead role in the short lived series, My Mother The Car.

4. The Skipper Rode a Horse To His Audition

The Skipper was the hardest role to cast, and also the last. Dozens of people auditioned but no one was quite right. When Alan Hale was scheduled to audition, he was filming a western movie and couldn't get time off for a screen test. He desperately wanted to go, however, so he snuck off set and travelled from Utah to California via horseback, hitchhiking, airplane, and cab. He made it back in time to continue filming.

5. When JFK was assassinated, the show stopped production.

The show was shooting in Hawaii in November of 1963 when a crew member ran onto the set saying JFK had been shot. It was announced that all military installations would be closed for the next two days as a period of mourning. This included Honolulu Harbor where the show was filming. Production was delayed several days. In the opening credits, you can see the American flag flying at half-mast in the background as the Minnow sets sail.

6. The Millionaire's Wife Was Really A Millionaire

Natalie Schafer only accepted the invitation to play Mrs Howell because it meant a free trip to Hawaii to film the pilot, apparently. She was a millionaire in real life, as she and her husband had invested heavily in Beverly Hills real estate and it paid off for them.

7. Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) still makes money off Gilligan's Island

All the actors on the show signed contracts that guaranteed them a set amount for each episode, plus residuals for the first five repeats of each episode. But Dawn Wells' husband was a talent agent at the time, and he suggested she get an amendment on the clause that included syndication. The producers agreed, never imagining the show would still be on 50 years later!

8. The Skipper broke his arm while filming and didn't tell anyone.

Alan Hale did his own stunts for the show. During one scene, he falls from a coconut tree and was supposed to land on a set of mats. Hale missed the crash pad and hit his arm on the stage which broke it. He didn't tell anyone for weeks because he didn't want to disrupt the filming schedule.

9. Natalie Schafer did her own stunts.

Even though she was in her mid-60s when the show was filmed, Schafer did all her own stunts. She never complained about any of them, either. She claimed to stay in shape by swimming in the nude in her pool and going on an ice cream diet when she needed to lose weight. She would eat a quart of ice cream (spread out over 3 meals) daily. Schafer says she would lose 3lbs in five days.

10. The Millionaire was actually a cheapskate.

Thought he was loved by his cast mates, Jim Backus was notoriously cheap. He would often go out to lunch with Natalie Schafer, only to realize he 'forgot' his wallet at the studio and Schafer would pay. At the wrap party for that season, Schafer presented Backus with a bill for a little over $300, which he owed her for lunch.

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