Getting on the cover of “TV Guide” was big back in the 1960s, especially for a show like “Gilligan’s Island.” It turned into a big fight.
Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the CBS sitcom, talks about what went down between lead actor Bob Denver (Gilligan,) executive producer Sherwood Schwartz and TV Guide. She did so during a 2015 interview and book signing with Herbie J Pilato.
The magazine’s idea was to have Denver and Tina Louise [Ginger Grant] appear on its cover in 1964. Wells said Louise was a big movie star who was cast for the TV show in New York City. Russell Johnson [The Professor] and Wells were cast in Los Angeles.
‘Gilligan’s Island’ Leading Star Refuses To Do Cover As First Presented
Wells, who died on Dec. 30, 2020, at 82 years old, says she thinks Louise believed she was the leading lady on “Gilligan’s Island.” She said “TV Guide” wanted, after the show was on for just six weeks, to put Denver and Louise on the cover.
Denver balked. Wells said the “Gilligan’s Island” star said, “No, there’s two girls in it, that’s not fair.” “TV Guide” countered by saying, “Well, Tina Louise is a big star.” Denver flat-out said he wasn’t going to do it.
A big fight over the cover breaks out between the duo of Denver and Schwartz and the folks at TV Guide.
“Sherwood said, ‘Please, this is really important,'” Wells said. “Finally, they talked to ‘TV Guide,’ I didn’t know any of this was going on, I’d have been in tears, ‘TV Guide’ said finally that we’ll do both girls.”
‘TV Guide’ Takes Cover Photo But Ends Up Changing The Picture’s Look
Wells sets up for the camera, but the photographer asks her to take off her makeup.
“I said ‘What?'” Wells said. “‘Take your makeup off. You’re supposed to be a farm girl.’ ‘But I’m a farm girl with my makeup on every week. What are you talking about?’ I took some of it off but not all of it.”
The photographer set it up where “Gilligan’s Island” star Wells is on one side, Louise on another, and Denver in the middle. Wells has her arm around Denver’s waist; Louise has her arm around his neck.
“We both cuddled up to him and they took the picture,” Wells said. “When the cover came out, they cropped me out. And the only thing, Bob was going to quit the show. It was a nasty thing to do.”
Louise is the last original star from “Gilligan’s Island” alive at 87 years old. The show is on for three seasons on CBS before it’s canceled. It lives on in classic TV rerun heaven.