Despite their fame on “Gilligan’s Island,” two cast members actually found themselves in guest-starring roles for another top CBS series.
Both Backus and Schafer, before “Gilligan’s Island,” had appeared in movies and TV shows throughout their careers.
Backus was known for having the cartoon voice of “Mr. Magoo,” plus he played Frank Stark, the father role, in James Dean’s last film, “Rebel Without A Cause.”
Schafer happened to be a Broadway actress, appearing in 17 plays, before moving out to Los Angeles. Besides her spot on “The Beverly Hillbillies” which is talked about below, Schafer also guest-starred on TV shows like “I Love Lucy,” “Guestward, Ho!,” “Mayberry R.F.D.,” and “Mannix.”
Backus, Shafer Go On Show Prior To ‘Gilligan’s Island’
Backus appears in the first season of “The Beverly Hillbillies” as Martin Van Ransohoff, chairman of the Commerce Bank, according to an article on Rotten Tomatoes.
That’s where Jed Clampett (Buddy Ebsen) put all of his oil money which was overseen by bank president Milburn Drysdale. In the episode, Van Ransohoff thinks that Clampett is a genius. His dreams get shattered when he visits Clampett’s mansion and finds himself at the dinner table.
Schafer, a few years before “Gilligan’s Island” starts airing, appears as Madame Renee in a 1964 episode of “The Beverly Hillbillies.” The plot involves Jed Clampett getting convinced that it’s a good idea to invest in a women’s clothing store. He picks the one run by Madame Renee, according to an article on ME.tv.
The problems arise with both Jed and Madame Renee think each other is in financial dire straits. What happens is they end up working on a dressing gown show, where Elly May (Donna Douglas) gets a chance to show off the latest in dress wear.
Both Backus and Schafer had a solid record of performances behind them before taking on Thurston and Lovey Howell. Their work on “Gilligan’s Island” remains a fan favorite five decades since it first aired on CBS.
Bob Denver, Tina Louise Appeared in a Beach Movie
Speaking of actors taking roles before “Gilligan’s Island,” would you believe Bob Denver and Tina Louise appeared in the same beach movie together?
The movie, “For Those Who Think Young,” was released months before the classic show hit the airwaves, according to MeTV.
Denver and Louise played Kelp and Topaz McQueen in the movie that’s tailored after those Frankie Avalon-Annette Funicello beach movies of the time. They have to work together with their fellow beach-loving friends to save a popular college hangout. An old, rich, former bootlegger hopes to shut the club down.
Meanwhile, the local college administration is concerned about underage drinking at the establishment.
Denver, by the way, also had some TV success in his back pocket before “Gilligan,” too. He played beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on CBS’s “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” which starred Dwayne Hickman in the lead role.
Just another tidbit from the ever-connected world of classic TV and movies.