“Gilligan’s Island” was known for both its wacky comedy and also its physical humor as well. Stars Bob Denver and Alan Hale Jr. made for an entertaining duo on the show as both Gilligan and the Skipper respectively.
In a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Denver reflected on his partnership with Hale Jr. on the show. The two starred together for three seasons of the island-themed sitcom. Gilligan and the Skipper often had a dysfunctional partnership on the show. For instance, the Skipper would hit Gilligan with his hat every time he said something stupid. It became a recurring joke on the show.
Denver greatly enjoyed the physical comedy on the show. He said he couldn’t have asked for a better partner than Hale Jr. In fact, Hale Jr. was so tough that nothing Denver did could hurt the actor. Likewise, he made sure to not hurt his smaller co-star as well. Hale Jr. acted as something of a gentle giant in their comedy partnership.
“It was fun. Alan Hale was the best person I could have picked in a million years to be my partner in doing physical comedy,” Denver told the outlet. “I couldn’t hurt him. I could climb on him, bounce on him, roll all over him and he would go, ‘Are you done?’ He would never hurt me. He was just too big and strong. You can’t rehearse a lot of physical things we did, but you can’t do it by the numbers. Whatever happens, you’ve got to trust each other.”
Bob Denver on ‘Gilligan’s Island’
The reason Denver wanted to star in “Gilligan’s Island” to begin with was because of the show’s physical comedy. The actor performed his own stunts on the show, performing all of the great jokes that he had only dreamed about.
“I did ‘Gilligan’ because I wanted to do all the physical jokes I had seen over the years. I did every one I wanted to and a few I hadn’t thought of,” Denver said.
Physical comedy was popular in the early 1900s with comedic acts like The Three Stooges or The Little Rascals. But it had fallen out of vogue by the time that “Gilligan’s Island” aired. In fact, Denver said critics savaged the show when it aired. They hated the wacky comedy and characters at the time. But the show found a passionate audience base and new viewers in the years to come.