‘Gilligan’s Island’: Dawn Wells Revealed Creator’s Explanation for Why the Howells Had So Much Baggage

by Chris Haney

Back in 1995, Gilligan’s Island stars Bob Denver and Dawn Wells joined NBC’s TODAY show where they finally revealed why the Howells had so much luggage with them.

In March of that year, the two actors sat down with a then 38-year-old Katie Couric during an appearance on TODAY. The pair came on as guests for a segment titled “Comedy Classics,” which revisited famous sitcoms from the ’60s and ’70s. As Couric points out, at the time Gilligan’s Island‘s 98 episodes had been re-run more often and in more locations than any other TV series in history.

Millions of fans have watched the classic series, and most will easily remember Mr. and Mrs. Howell. The two wealthy, spoiled socialites were stranded on the island with the rest of the castaways. However, they seemed to have an exorbitant amount of luggage between them on the show, which raises some questions.

“Why if the S.S. Minnow was only out for a 3-hour cruise did the Howells have so many suitcases?” Couric amusingly asks.

“Uh, got me,” Denver admitted with a laugh, deferring to Wells.

“[Gilligan’s Island] creator Sherwood Schwartz says that he thought the Howells would have everything that they wanted with them at all times. So even if they were going out for an hour, they would take everything they wanted,” Wells explained.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star Reveals What Made Bob Denver So Special

13 years after their joint interview, Dawn Wells opened up about her Gilligan’s Island co-star Bob Denver. In December 2008, she sat down for a lengthy interview with Television Academy Foundation. Wells reflected on her long acting career on stage, in movies, and on television.

She also shared some thoughts on what made the Gilligan actor so great during one segment of the interview. Wells talked about Denver’s unique abilities as a comedic actor. The actress shared that Denver never rehearsed his scenes, but that his natural talent and intuition always shined through in one take.

“He became the characters. He didn’t rehearse it. There was a youth inside of Bob, a child inside of Bob, that came through. He would do these little things all of a sudden, take one boom, and it would be done. He didn’t rehearse it… There was a genius inside of him,” Wells explained to the Television Academy Foundation.

Even though the famous actor was known for being a bit of a recluse, the co-stars were good friends. They stayed in touch for years before he sadly passed on in 2005 – three years before the interview. Wells even used to visit Bob and his wife Dreama at their home, which wasn’t a common occurrence in the typically private Denver household.

“He was a remarkable man. We lost him way too soon,” she added. “I was very privileged to be one of the few people that Bob had to his home, and shared his life with.”