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Gilligan’s Island: Part 6, Life Off the Island

Because the show became so popular in reruns, the actors from the show were typecast in their roles and found it difficult to find other work beyond Gilligan’s Island.

Bob Denver made a short-lived series called The Good Guys after Gilligan as well as a number of failed pilots. He made occasional appearances on shows such as Evening Shade and tv movies like High School USA starring a young Michael J. Fox. He authored a book about his experiences on Gilligan’s Island and The Many Lives of Dobie Gilis. He moved out of Hollywood and relocated to North Carolina and lived there with his wife Dreama and family until his death from cancer on September 2nd 2005. He was 70 years old. His last public appearance was on the 2005 TV Land Awards when the four remaining cast members and Sherwood Schwartz accepted a special award.

Alan Hale Jr. made various appearances as The Skipper as well as owned a restaurant in Hollywood for 15 years. Patrons of Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel would frequently be greeted by this warm man (always wearing the Skipper’s cap) and it’s said that he would take great pleasure in posing for photos, recounting stories and signing autographs. Leaving his beloved wife Trinket and a long list of credits behind him, Alan passed away on January 2nd 1990. The Coast Guard offered full services at sea but his wife declined. In keeping with Alan’s wishes, through the Neptune Society, his ashes were scattered at sea. Dawn Wells represented the cast at the ceremony which was hampered by paparazzi helicopters.

Jim Backus had an incredible career before Gilligan’s island and kept busy afterwards as well, most notably as the voice of the very animated and nearsighted Mr. Magoo. He contracted Parkinson’s Disease and suffered with it for many years. He wrote several books with his wife Henny, including one detailing his fight with his illness. One of his final appearances was alongside his TV wife, Natalie Schafer, on an Orville Redenbacher popcorn commercial. He was the first of the castaways to pass away on July 3rd 1989.

Natalie Schafer had had a great career onstage before the show and was the epitome of the high class socialite. She made a number of appearances on tv programs after show ended. In her later years, she was most happy in the company of friends and her small dogs. She passed away in her sleep at age 90 on April 10th 1990, less than a year after her TV husband.

Tina Louise, as it’s well known, has somewhat distanced herself from Ginger, trying to escape the typecasting from the show. She has appeared in a number of dramatic roles in movies like Johnny Suede and many TV show episodes. In recent years, she’s taken part in Gilligan reunions like The Late Show and the TV Land Awards. She presently lives in New York.

Russell Johnson has made a number of appearances on tv shows including an episode of Newhart in which he played one of the citizens of the town who was watching reruns of Gilligan. In the show, he voiced a line from the show as the Professor. One of his sons died from AIDs and he is involved with AIDs awareness in addition to sometimes acting. He has written a book about Gilligan and lives off the coast of Washington on an island with his wife and family.

Dawn Wells has made a number of tv appearances, most notably on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno’s TV Survivor game in which she competed with other past sitcom stars. She won the contest, beating Florence Henderson, Gary Coleman and many others. She teaches acting at her Film Acting Boot Camp in Idaho where she lives. She produced the Surviving Gilligan’s Island tv-movie in which she showed her home movies from the series, and recounted experiences with Denver and Johnson.

Creator Sherwood Schwartz (also the creator of The Brady Bunch) is still very active in the industry and wrote a book on the subject of Gilligan’s island. With his great energy and imagination, there’s no telling where the next Gilligan project will come from.

Final Thoughts
Though the show ended its short three year run in 1967, it continues to be one of the most best loved shows of all time forty years later. I think people love it because it’s a show about people working together without any meanness in their hearts. It’s also just plain fun and silliness that kids of all ages can enjoy.

Up next: “Lovey” Howell’s actual name, Gilligan’s full name, and the secret plan to rescue one of the castaways if the orginal show had had a fourth season. Stay tuned! TV Series Finale home page

 

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