‘Gilligan’s Island’: Who Performed the Show’s Classic Theme Song?

by Joe Rutland

“Gilligan’s Island” had one of the most recognizable theme songs in television history. Who performed the song on the CBS comedy?

The answer involves two groups. The Wellingtons initially recorded the nifty ditty for the show’s first season in 1964-65. Then a group called The Eligibles re-recorded it for the second season in 1965-66. That version also was played in the show’s third and final season.

During that second season, The Wellingtons actually made an appearance on “Gilligan’s Island.” They played a rock band called The Mosquitoes in an episode called “Don’t Bug the Mosquitoes.”

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Original Calypso Theme Was Composed by Movie Legend John Williams

One of the more unique trivia pieces to this theme song is the original calypso-style theme was composed by John Williams. Who? John Williams, the guy who was responsible for movie music like “Star Wars” and “Superman.” But that version was tossed.

So “The Ballad of Gilligan’s Isle” was written by Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, and George Wyle.

As we mentioned earlier, the first version that was done by The Wellingtons has the words “and the rest” in the lyrics. That’s because “Gilligan’s Island” didn’t include the Professor [Russell Johnson] and Mary Ann [Dawn Wells] in the first iteration.

Bob Denver Made Sure Credits Were Changed For Show’s Second Season

Bob Denver [Gilligan] didn’t like that at all. He took matters into his own hands and went to show producers. Denver told them Johnson and Wells should be in the opening credits. He received some blowback to his position.

But he told “Gilligan’s Island” producers that contractually he (Denver) could pick where he wanted to be in the credits. Denver told them to move him to the back.

Well, that didn’t sit well with the producers so they relented.

Now Denver had appeared in another popular CBS comedy called “The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis” with Dwayne Hickman. Denver played beatnik Maynard G. Krebs. He worked on that series, then along came Gilligan.

Show’s Star Took Much-Needed Time Away In The Woods

When “Gilligan’s Island” was canceled, Denver took some time off. Like, going away into the woods for solitude time off.

“I’ve had only one day off in three years,” he said in a 1967 interview with United Press International. He bought a home in Lake Sherwood, Calif., north of Malibu, sat outside, and got a boat.

“Right after I got the house, I discovered that I hadn’t relaxed for an hour in the past seven years,” Denver said in an interview with The Wichita Beacon in 1967. “On my first day there I sat down in front of the view window on the top floor, opened a can of beer, and didn’t move until it was too dark to see. I had forgotten places like that still exist.”