'Gilligan's Island' Cast Could've Been Absolutely Different
Audiences around the world fell in love with the shipwrecked cast on Gilligan's Island. It's difficult to imagine any other actors in the place of the stars we now know from that sandy beach. Yet, there were a few well-known celebs also in the running to be on the show. Let's take a look at the cast that could have been!
The Name Of The Show Could've Been Very Different
Its been more than five decades since we enjoyed the comical and intriguing islanders on this beloved show. The name we now know like second nature actually has a pretty funny back story. Not only did the show creator find it in a telephone book but the title, "Hogfighter Island" was also being considered!
They Fooled Us With The Location... Or Did They?
One of the other surprising facts linked to the series is the location. While viewers are led to believe it plays off on some faraway island, this is far from the truth. The entire series was shot on set in California. In fact, the lagoon display we saw on our screens was completely man-made.
For many viewers, there was never a doubt insight that they were being fooled by an off-location production. Yet, some super sleuths did discover a few giveaways like the city skyline and some other curious landmarks. It seems not everyone was blinded by the location's flaws.
The Actress Who Should Not Have Been Cast
If there was one case where a different star should truly have landed the role, it is with Natalie Schafer. The actress portrayed the millionaire socialite Lovey Howell. Her performance was great and she was certainly a highlight ever episode but she was not a fan of the show.
While we all fell madly in love with her hilarious facial expressions and emotive acting, she was not always having the greatest time. There were various aspects of the show that were not to her liking. Either way, Natalie did a good job of concealing her real feelings on the screen.
Casting The Skipper: Carroll O'Connor
There were many actors standing in the line for an audition to be the fantastic Skipper. When the masses had been scaled down, one specific star was in the running. It was none other than Carroll O'Connor. While he didn't land it, he still went on to gain fame for his fantastic portrayal in "All in the Family."
Alan Hale Jr as The Real Skipper
Alan Hale Jr. is of course the man who nabbed the coveted spot at the Skipper on Gilligan's Island. One of the key features of his audition was linked to his arrival. The actor pitched up via horseback, making quite the entrance and leaving a lasting impression.
Casting Gilligan: Jerry Van Dyke
One of the younger but also famous Van Dyke brothers, Jerry, was also a potential casting option on the hit series. In fact, the creator of the show really favored him as the right man for the lead character. Yet, Jerry gave up the role of a lifetime to star in the short-lived and disappointing "My Mother the Car."
Bob Denver as The One and Only Gilligan
The leading role went to the right man at the end of the day and fans of the series can't imagine anyone but Bob Denver, as the show's narrative anchor. What a phenomenal job he did, Bob truly commanded the screen and kept audiences intrigued episode after episode.
Casting "Ginger": Jayne Mansfield
Jayne Mansfield is a name known far and wide but few realize she was in the running to star on Gilligan's Island! The popular blonde bombshell chose to pass over the role because she did not want to be typecast as only a sultry movie star character that is placed in a box.
Tina Louise Perfected "Ginger" Afterall
Tina Louise was consequently the lady who took on the role of Ginger, and what a great job she did! While she refused to star in the TV movies and animated series spin-offs that came after the series ended, she still had a real love for the show and her fellow castmates.
Casting Another "Ginger": Kit Smythe
Yes, you read correctly, there was indeed another Ginger! Kit Smythe, the red-haired actress we are all familiar with, also stood a chance at playing this character. Kit Smythe actually starred in the pilot episode, taking on the part of a bombshell secretary. Her role was later replaced by Tina Louise, the bombshell movie star, Ginger.
Casting Two Contenders For "Mary Ann": Nancy McCarthy and Raquel Welch
Nancy McCarthy gained some luck when she was cast in the original pilot as a rough around the edges version of Mary Ann. Her name was Bunny and she starred as a secretary but her character was later replaced with the Mary Ann character we now know and love.
When the pilot episode underwent a makeover, the creators of Gilligan's Island were trying to find the perfect girl-next-door. Raquel Welch did a screen test for this role but ultimately it did not suit her sultry style. She was simply lacking the sweetness and soft natured touch the character needed.
Dawn Wells Remains The Sweet Old Favorite "Mary Ann"
Dawn Wells will forever be remembered for her stint on the series. Even though it was more than 50 years ago, the actress still thinks back on her days as the iconic Mary Ann fondly. She feels "blessed" to have been part of such a great and legendary show. She said:
“Many of my favorite scenes were the dream sequences when I got to play other characters. There was one episode when I get hit on the head and imagine I’m Ginger. Tina was such a great sport about me mimicking her voice.”
Casting Dabney Coleman and John Gabriel as the Professor
He was the actor from "Tootsie," Dabney Coleman tried his hand at a part on Gilligan's Island but after an unsuccessful screen test, it was not meant to be. John Gabriel then nabbed the role, but only for a short while. When he didn't make magic on screen for the pilot, he too was recast.
This was not the end of these actors, and both of them went on to gain fame and awards in other avenues and ventures. For example, Dabney Coleman now has some impressive credits to his name. These include, "That Girl," "Kojak" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
There Can Only Be One Professor: Russell Johnson
There was eventually only one man who could handle the role of the professor. That man was of course Russell Johnson and what a fantastic Professor he was. In total, he was in 98 of the 99 episodes and went on to have an impressive career after the series.
On his personal website he shared the following about his love for Gilligan's Island:
"I think, what I love most at this point in time in the long life of Gilligan's Island is the positive, intelligent nature of longtime Gilligan aficionados. It amazes me. I have received mail throughout the years from young viewers from all over the world, year after year.
The Impact Of The Professor's Character
Russell did such a stellar job of portraying his role that many fans around the world were inspired to follow in his footsteps. The actor was often overcome with joy when he heard stories of how his character made a difference. He explained these instances as follows:
"[They] were so influenced by the Professor's smarts that they became science buffs and are now real professors, doctors and scientists. It makes me proud."
A Possibility At Off-Screen Love: Dawn Wells & Russell Johnson
Mr. and Mrs. Howell's characters may have been the only loved up couple on the series but the off-screen romance was brewing without the knowledge of the viewers. Dawn Wells aka Mary Ann hinted at this during an interview for “Oprah: Where Are They Now?”
She was quite candid about her belief that she and Russell Johnson aka the Professor, could have struck up a relationship of timing was on their side. She said:
“If either one of us had been single or both of us had been single, there would have been some chemistry. He had the best sense of humor. He was the funniest. And he was a hunk!”
Remembering The Professor From Mary Ann's Perspective
Russell Johnson is one of the show's legends who has since passed away. However, this does not mean the fans will forget the great acting and impact he and various others had on the TV world and life in general. Dawn Well aka Mary Ann was quick to admit that she does still “miss him.”
This series was one of a kind. Not only did it catapult many stars to fame but it became a household name. Do you think the actors and actresses who narrowly missed out on these roles regret it? Leave us your comments and be sure to click the charge button!