Jan
11
2009

What happened to the cast of Gilligan’s Island?

Bob Denver's Handprints (photo by Neelix - PD)

Bob Denver's Handprints (photo by Neelix - PD)

Gilligan’s Island was a popular television sitcom in the 1960s. The premise was that seven people (five tourists plus the skipper and his first mate) had become marooned on a desert island after being shipwrecked during a storm.

Bob Denver played Gilligan, the loyal but disaster-prone first mate. After Gilligan’s Island he performed in several minor productions, and ran an “oldies” radio station in his hometown. He died at age 70 in 2005 from pneumonia and throat cancer, having earlier had quadruple heart bypass surgery.

Alan Hale, Jr. played the Skipper. After Gilligan’s Island he performed in several minor productions, and co-owned a seafood restaurant. He died in 1990 at age 68 from cancer.

Jim Backus played the millionaire Thurston Howell, III.  After Gilligan’s Island he had a smattering of performances (including on The Brady Bunch). He also co-wrote books, performed voiceovers, released a few records and starred in advertisements for popcorn, furniture and electricals. He died in 1989 at age 76 from pneumonia after having suffered Parkinson’s disease.

Natalie Schafer played Lovey Howell, Thurston’s wife. She continued acting after Gilligan’s Island, and guess starred on various TV series as well as appearing in the movie The Day Of The Locust. She died in 1991 aged 90, from cancer.

Tina Louise played the glamorous movie star Ginger Grant. She has continued to star regularly in TV series and TV movies. She’s still alive, as of January 2014.

Russell Johnson played The Professor. He continued to act in TV shows and movies, and has also provided narration and been a panelist on the game show Pyramid. He has participated in the presentation of the Ig Nobel Prize awards. He died of natural causes on 16 January 2014 at age 89.

Dawn Wells played the sweet and naiive Mary Ann. She continued to act regularly after Gilligan’s Island, on TV and in movies. In addition she has starred in commercials and published a cookbook. She’s still alive, as of January 2014.

They were all heavily typecast following the successful run of Gilligan’s Island. Most of them accepted this gracefully, and were happy to return for reunions and retrospectives. The exception was Tina Louise, who refused to join in.

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