‘Gilligan’s Island’: The Howells’ Son in Bizarre ‘Harlem Globetrotters’ Movie was Portrayed by ‘Supermarket Sweep’ Host

by Suzanne Halliburton

The plot for this Gilligan’s Island reunion movie definitely was a little twisted. It featured the Harlem Globetrotters and a new character. Check that, new relative.

Although Thurston Howell III and his lovely wife, Lovey, supposedly had no children when they were stuck on Gilligan’s Island during the series, they miraculously had an heir in 1981. That’s when the movie was made. But back in season one of the series, the Howells unofficially adopted Gilligan because they had no kids. The two changed his name to Gilligan Thurston Howell IV.

So yes, there was another Thurston Howell IV who showed up in the reunion movieThe Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island. This Thurston Howell IV was played by David Ruprecht, the future host of the revival of the game show Supermarket Sweep.

This Gilligan’s Island movie was the third and final one with our favorite castaways. Most of the returning cast participated. However, Tina Louise, who played Ginger in the series, wasn’t in the movie. She never did a Gilligan’s Island reunion movie.

But Jim Backus, who played Thurston Howell, only had a cameo. He was too ill with Parkinson’s to film much of the movie, which was why the Gilligan’s Island directors needed someone to fill the role. Rather than recast, they created a son.

On Gilligan’s Island, Harlem Globetrotters Played Evil Robots

In the movie, the castaways are no longer castaways. Plus, the deserted island now is inhabited. The Gilligan’s Island gang runs a resort hotel. But to carry on the castaway theme, the fun-loving, dazzling Harlem Globetrotters crash land on the island.

The drama concerns the character J.J. Pierson, the millionaire and arch rival of Thurston Howell III. He’s figured out there’s “supremium” on the island. And in the imaginary world of Hollywood, supremium is a type of energy that can be mined. Pierson tries to swindle the Gilligan’s Island crew out of the hotel so he can have access to the supremium.

And to make the plot a bit more complicated, the Harlem Globetrotters play a team of evil robots for the right to own the hotel. This team of Globetrotters was three years removed from the departure of its star, Meadowlark Lemon.

But Geese Ausby and Curly Neal still were on the team to dribble to Sweet Georgia Brown. Here’s a fun fact. The original Gilligan’s Island reunion movie was supposed to feature the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. But the group was unavailable, so the movie was reworked for the Harlem Globetrotters.

Of course, the Gilligan’s Island crew saved the day. Pierson sneaked off with the supremium, but it blew up his yacht and Pierson went broke. Call it the revenge of Thurston Howell III.