Bob Denver was arguably the most important actor on Gilligan’s Island. His role was so important to the show that he quickly realized the power of his wants.
Fortunately or unfortunately, Denver was so good on Gilligan’s Island that he was never able to find any other lasting roles in his career. But that should be an ode to how talented he was as Gilligan.
Denver went on The Pat Sajak Show in late December 1989 to share one thing, in particular, he did on the show. While it may not seem altogether that significant of a change, it was to the star actor. Gilligan’s Island had been over for many years when Denver talked to Sajak.
Denver went on the show with his then co-star, Dawn Wells. During the interview, Sajak wanted to know about the theme song. He said, “As I recall, some characters were added to the theme song without changing the song. I remember, early on, the professor and Mary Ann were not included in it. And then they sort of snuck them in.”
Wells chimed in and said, “we were the rest.” She continued explaining why that was the case. “It was a billing problem at the beginning. I think when we originally went on the air, the billing was arranged [such that] there were three replacements – Ginger, the professor, and Mary Ann. They came in after the pilot. We weren’t in the original show, and we did a lot of negotiations.”
Bob Denver Changed the Makeup of the “Gilligan’s Island” Theme Song
The Gilligan’s Island actress continued to explain that Tina’s contract was negotiated before the others. That meant Ginger got to become part of the song while Mary Ann and the professor were left out.
Then, Denver gave his recollection of how he handled the situation. “I said to them, ‘It’s not really fair. There are seven people on the island. You shouldn’t have ‘the rest’ stuck, put them at the front.’ And they said, ‘No. Contractually, they’re stuck back there.'”
However, Denver was not satisfied with that answer. “And I said, ‘Well contractually, I get first billing, so I have the choice of where I want to go.’ They went, ‘Yeah?’ I said, ‘I’ll take the last billing then.”
Clearly, this was not exactly what the producers of Gilligan’s Island wanted to hear. The star of the show explained that “they went alright, we’ll ’em up.”
Dawn Wells didn’t know that the change in billing during the introduction song was because of her co-star. So, she thanked him for doing that for her.