Gilligan’s Island’: How Bob Denver Helped Resolve Drama Over the Opening Credits

by Taylor Cunningham

When season 1 of Gilligan’s Island premiered in 1964, the catchy theme song wasn’t quite the same. But lead star Bob Denver stuck his neck out and ensured that the legendary tune that we all know and love made it to classic TV.

As nearly all fans know, the Gilligan theme song not only tells the “tale of a fateful trip,” but it also mentions all the castaways who would get stuck on the deserted island. However, most people don’t know that the first version failed to mention the professor and Mary Ann. Instead, it stopped with “the movie star” and the remaining two were reduced to “the rest.”

The reason the writers opted to leave two of the lead characters out of the lyrics was because of a contractual agreement. According to Tina Louise’s terms, she had to appear last in the credits. And the songwriters couldn’t figure out how to make the names work in that order. So, they simply cut them out.

Bob Denver Thought the Opening Credits Needed a Re-Work

But when Bob Denver’s castmates got the snub, it didn’t sit well with him. And since he played the title role, he used his power to help make things right.

The star personally worked with creator Sherwood Swartz throughout the first year to create a new agreement that would allow the writers to rearrange the names. And by the time that season 2 opened, a new jingle debuted and has been stuck in fans’ minds ever since.

Once Shwartz fixed his wrongs, the whole situation became an ongoing inside joke. And the professor’s Russell Johnson and Mary Ann’s Dawn Wells jokingly became known to their castmates as the rest. So luckily, there were no hard feelings.

The Artists Behind the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Opening Credits

But the awkward lyric swap isn’t the most interesting bit about the Gillian’s Island opening credits music.

Apparently, the original theme was also created by five-time Oscar-winning composer John Williams. He, of course, wrote scores for movies such as Star Wars and Harry Potter. But when the series decided to re-write the lyrics, it completely scrapped William’s work and went with another band.

In the end, it was The Wellingtons who created the final version of the tune. Their song aired with the opening credits from 1965 to 1966.

The band also made it screen side before the third and final season aired. In an episode titled Don’t Bug the Mosquitoes, The Wellingtons visited Gilligan’s Island and starred as a rock band called The Mosquitoes.