‘Gilligan’s Island’: Kurt Russell Guest-Starred on Show When He Was 13 Years Old

by John Jamison

These days, Kurt Russell is an A-list actor with an accomplished career to his name. But back in the early 1960s, he was just a teenager trying to make it in Hollywood. Part of that journey included a brief stint on the classic television comedy “Gilligan’s Island.”

In 1965, 13-year old Kurt Russell played the role of Jungle Boy in an episode of the show called “Gilligan Meets Jungle Boy.” The 19th installment of the first season saw Gilligan cross paths with a kid, played by Kurt Russell, who had been living in the jungle. Further, Gilligan discovers a cache of helium that the professor thinks he can use to get them rescued.

“I remember it like it was- see, what’s weird about our careers is we look at them from the inside. For me that was like three weeks ago, you know. I still remember some of my lines. I didn’t have very many,” Russell said n in a 2017 interview on “Today.” “Yeah, well when you’re 13 years old, you gotta do ‘Gilligan’s Island’ in a loincloth and you gotta go back to your public school afterwards, I tell you what, you learn how to handle yourself pretty quickly.”

Just a year after his appearance on “Gilligan’s Island,” Kurt Russell’s career took off. He starred as Whitey in the 1966 film “Follow Me, Boys!” His performance didn’t go unnoticed. Reportedly, Walt Disney himself loved what he saw in young Kurt Russell, and his studio signed the actor to a 10-year contract.

In those 10 years, Disney kept Kurt Russell busy with a ton of different projects. Some of them included late 1960s Walt Disney Studios classics such as “The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes” and “The One and Only, Genuine, Original Family Band.”

After ‘Gilligan’s Island,’ Kurt Russell Became Part of a Hollywood Legend

A couple of years after his appearance on “Gilligan’s Island,” Kurt Russell was busy on the set of a movie when he noticed a commotion.

“I was shooting a close-up and noticed there was some hubbub going on off camera. Then everybody went quiet. They were looking at me and I thought, ‘What the hell’s this?'” Russell said in a biography of Walt Disney called “Remembering Walt.” “This guy came over to me and said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, Kurt, but Walt Disney died.’ They were all very sweet.”

The then-15-year-old actor owed much of his success to the late Walt Disney. Naturally, he was emotional. But what happened afterward set the stage for a legend that made Kurt Russell a storied figure for years to come.

Apparently, Walt Disney had a note on his desk at the time of his death that, among other items, included Kurt Russell’s name. According to the Washington Post, the story quickly morphed into people thinking that “Kurt Russell” was Walt Disney’s last words. In reality, he was just a name on a note. Of course, that’s still an incredible honor, whatever Disney meant by it. But not quite final words territory.