‘Gilligan’s Island’: Bob Denver Dropped the Full Name of Gilligan After It Was Never Said on Show

by Joe Rutland

Did you ever want to know what Gilligan’s full name was on “Gilligan’s Island”? Well, actor Bob Denver revealed it many years later.

Remember, “Gilligan’s Island” only ran for three seasons between 1964-67 on CBS before being canceled. No one actually heard Gilligan say his first name on the show. That’s because he never did. Why did this happen? Well, Denver clears up the confusion.

He lets the public on the long-held secret during a 1988 “Gilligan’s Island” reunion appearance on NBC’s “The Late Show” with host Ross Shafer.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Reveals Character’s First Name On Reunion Show

“Was Gilligan a first name or a last name?” Shafer asks.

“Well in the show, we never said,” Denver said. “But I asked Sherwood Schwartz, the writer, and he said, ‘If we are ever going to use it, it would have been Willie Gilligan.'”

There you go, classic TV fans. One of the long-running mysteries from a popular sitcom has been revealed. What else would Denver on this special reunion show?

Here’s a clip of Denver, along with costar Alan Hale Jr., from May 1, 1988.

Bob Denver Lived Pretty Private Life Away From Set, Costar Dawn Wells Said

While being a star of a TV sitcom might be glorious, there are a lot of pressures that come from it. Denver didn’t like the limelight and just managed to keep to himself a lot, one costar said.

Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the sitcom, talked about Denver and his lifestyle in an interview with Kevin Renick.

“Bob (Denver) was very private,” Wells said of her “Gilligan’s Island” costar. “Very private. He had a lot of children, and he’d come in looking exhausted. There was a childlike soul in Bob. I was one of the few people he allowed in his home.

“Um, ‘allowed’ is not the right word,” she said.

Wells, Denver, and Hale have all died since their interviews. The only original “Gilligan’s Island” cast member still alive is Tina Louise, who played Ginger Grant. Wells died on Dec. 30, 2020, at 82 years old from COVID-19 complications. Denver died on Sept. 2, 2005, at 70 years old. Hale died on Jan. 2, 1990, at 68 years old.

The series potentially would have continued on CBS except that fans of western hit “Gunsmoke” were upset when they heard their show was facing cancellation. Their outreach to the network proved too much to ignore, thereby sending “Gilligan’s Island” off CBS.