Are They Still On That Island?

By Jeffrey Little
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If you've ever wondered what became of the Gilligan's Island cast, you should first realize that they're not stranded on that cheesy "uncharted desert isle" set they called home from 1964-1967. And you're probably also wondering why it seems the show ran so long, when in actuality it was only on CBS's nighttime line-up for 3 seasons.

Gilligan's Island became legendary due to television syndication that has been re-running past episodes now for decades…and continues to do so…over and over and over again. So much so in fact that the majority of people you meet are familiar with all the show's story lines. And this is in no small part due to the cast of Gilligan's Island that consistently displayed great artistic craftsmanship in their portrayals of characters appearing in scripts that were patently ridiculous. But where are they now?

A photo of Alan Hale Jr.Like it or not, the first airing of Gilligan's Island occurred a very long time ago. So, sadly, the majority of the cast members are no longer with us. Jim Backus, who played multi-millionaire Thurston Howell III (and was also the voice of animated character Mr. Magoo) passed in 1989 at the age of 76. Veteran Broadway actress Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Eunice Lovelle Wentworth Howell) died at the age of 90 in 1991. Living to 89-years-of-age, Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley, Ph.D.) played a character with more degrees than a thermometer and left a body of impressive work behind (The Twilight Zone, It Came from Outer Space) when he died on January 16, 2014. And then of course there's the crew of the S.S. Minnow.

Often compared to his father due to their almost eerie resemblance, Alan Hale, Jr. ("The Skipper" Jonas Grumby) had an impressive legacy to live up. His dad had appeared and often co-starred in over 240 films which included classics such as The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Seahawk. But "The Skipper" managed to carve out a niche for himself as Captain of the Minnow and reveled in it for years until his death at 68-years-of-age in 1990. Having appeared in numerous TV series, Alan Hale, Jr. was a recognizable face long before Gilligan's Island. But his turn as "The Skipper" would prove to be what he was remembered for (even after his fine performance in 1968's Hang 'Em High). Over the years Hale's Gilligan's Island character has become as lovable a part of most television viewers' lives as "Lucy," "Ralph Kramden," and all the other perennial TV mainstays.

The other member of the Minnow's crew was, of course, the show's namesake, Gilligan. And not unlike Alan Hale, Bob Denver (Gilligan) became a household fixture over the years and remains one today. And also like Hale, Bob Denver can still be spotted in numerous re-running performances as the lovable beatnik sidekick in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and in other well-known programs such as The Andy Griffith Show. Denver (who played the only character on Gilligan's Island with just one name) died in 2005 at age 70.

Rounding out the cast and providing the sex appeal on Gilligan's Island were Tina Louise as movie star Ginger Grant and Dawn Wells playing Kansas farm girl Mary Ann Summers. Both are still alive and well (Louise is a spry 80 and Wells is a youthful 76). For years, and still today, the debate has raged over which of these television beauties was the hottest female on Gilligan's Island. And even now these two gorgeous women have held up incredibly well over time…so debate on.

And for those of you who are still in a debating mood after arguing the Ginger vs. Mary issue, you might want to discuss more pressing concerns. For instance, "Why could The Professor construct all those complicated devices from seaweed and coconuts but couldn't repair a 3-foot hole in a boat?"

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