One of the actresses on “Gilligan’s Island” gives star Bob Denver a heap of credit when it comes to getting the theme song changed.
Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann, said in a 2016 interview with Forbes that Denver decided to take a stand for her and Russell Johnson. Johnson played The Professor. Both of them are not in the first-season theme.
You might recall that the last line before the chorus originally said “…and the rest.” Denver wasn’t having any of that happening after the first season of “Gilligan’s Island.”
“I was pretty new and everyone at that point had had a career,” Wells said. “I think Bob Denver went to bat, told them it was silly, that there were only two other people on the island.”
Denver Threatened To Quit ‘Gilligan’s Island’ Role
Wells thinks she remembers Denver telling the show producers that “I’m not going on unless you change the billing.”
“We laughed when they did,” Wells said of herself and Johnson. “Roy (Hinkley, Russell Johnson’s character’s name) and I would still exchange Christmas cards with the greeting, ‘From The Rest.'”
In the second and third seasons, you can hear and see in the show’s opening theme that “The Professor and Mary Ann” get mentions, too.
For Denver, who played beatnik friend Maynard G. Krebs opposite real-life friend Dwayne Hickman in CBS’s “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis,” the change mattered. He had some pull thanks to his earlier work and success with “Gillis.”
Show Creator Sherwood Schwartz Almost Lost Job
Meanwhile, show executive producer Sherwood Schwartz almost lost his place on “Gilligan’s Island.” In today’s TV world, it might be difficult to believe that a show’s creator can lose his job.
Schwartz was the guy who came up with an idea to strand seven people on an island. He, though, was not able to make scripts into film episodes fast enough for CBS executives’ taste, according to an article on ME.tv.
Executives tried to put in their own “good ideas” into “Gilligan’s Island.” CBS programming executive Hunt Stromberg was setting up a replacement for when Schwartz was fired.
But that didn’t happen because it found itself among the top-ranked shows. Schwartz kept his job and the show ran for two more seasons. It was lined up for a fourth season, but it didn’t happen because CBS executives needed to find a place for “Gunsmoke.”
That show’s fans made a ruckus with CBS when word got out that “Gunsmoke” was possibly being canceled. The network decided to keep “Gunsmoke” and “Gilligan’s Island” was nixed.