Gilligan

Fictional Ninny

Born: 1964
Birthplace: Television
Best known as:

The dim-witted titular star of Gilligan's Island

An amiable ninny in a white sailor hat, Gilligan was the hero of the TV sitcom Gilligan's Island, which ran from 1964-67. As played by Bob Denver, Gilligan was the first mate of the S.S. Minnow, a storm-tossed boat beached on a tropical island during an ill-fated "three hour tour." Gilligan and the Skipper (played by Alan Hale, Jr.) were stranded with their five passengers: the Professor (played by Russell Johnson), kind-hearted Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells), bombshell actress Ginger Grant (Tina Louise, channeling Marilyn Monroe), millionaire Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) and his wife Eunice (aka Lovey, played by Natalie Schafer). Each week the show followed the group's desperate attempts to be rescued while making the best of their tropical island home. Gilligan's cheerful nincompoopery inevitably ruined the rescue schemes, which led to the Skipper howling "Gilligaaan!" and whacking the mate with his captain's hat. Despite (or because of) the absurdity of the premise, the show was a hit, and its 98 episodes have continued in syndicated reruns for decades. The show also spawned a series of TV movies, including Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979), and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981). The show also has inspired a not-too-successful 2004 reality show, The Real Gilligan's Island, based on the original sitcom.

Extra credit:

Gilligan was the character's last name; his first name was never revealed on a broadcast, though series creator Sherwood Schwartz claimed that Gilligan's first name was Willy... The Skipper's full name was Jonas Grumby, and the Professor's was Roy Hinkley... Schwartz also created the popular 1970s show The Brady Bunch.

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More on Gilligan from Fact Monster:

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  • Bob Denver - Biography of Bob Denver, Gilligan on TV's Gilligan's Island
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