‘Gilligan’s Island’ Creator Got the Idea for Series from a College Essay

by Keeli Parkey

When you think about it, the idea for the popular sitcom “Gilligan’s Island” is a bit, let’s say, unusual. You have this weird combination of people stranded together on a deserted island because they decided to take a “three-hour tour.”

While living on the island, the castaways find themselves caught up in a number of unusual scenarios. Heck, even the Harlem Globetrotters came across the castaways at one point. Needless to say, in so many ways, “Gilligan’s Island” was very different than other sitcoms.

So, what led Sherwood Schwartz, the show’s creator, to bring such a project to life? Well, according to Looper, the inspiration for the popular 1960s sitcom had its roots in a class he took while in college at New York University. During that class, he and his classmates were tasked with creating a speech. Their speech was to focus on their life if they were faced with living on a deserted island. Specifically, they were tasked with writing about the one item they would have to take with them to that island.

Flashforward several years. Schwartz became a writer for television shows. Later, he would have the chance to create his own sitcom. It was during that process that he remembered the idea of a deserted island and living there. He also came up with the idea of having people who have very little in common being forced to live together on that island.

Sherwood Schwartz Described Sitcom as ‘A Social Microcosm’

So, “Gilligan’s Island” was born. Creator Sherwood Schwartz once described the still beloved sitcom as “a social microcosm and a metaphorical shaming of world politics in the sense that when necessary for survival, yes we can all get along.”

The famous castaways of “Gilligan’s Island” included the show’s namesake – Gilligan – who was played by Bob Denver. The Skipper was played by Alan Hale Jr. Dawn Wells brought the character of Mary Ann Summers to life. Tina Louise played the movie star, Ginger Grant. Russell Johnson played the Professor, Roy Hinkley. The “millionaire and his wife” – Thurston Howell III and Lovey Howell – were played by Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer.

‘Gilligan’s Island’ Is Not the Only Famous Television Series Created by Sherwood Schwartz

“Gilligan’s Island” continues to be a beloved television sitcom. It continues to provide laughs and joy to viewers of all ages.

It is not the only television series created by Sherwood Schwartz that has provided laughs and joy to viewers over the years. According to IMDb, Schwartz, who passed away at the age of 94 during July 2011, was also the mind behind the “The Brady Bunch.”

Before “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch,” Schwartz was a writer on the popular comedy “The Red Skelton Show.” His work in that show earned him a Primetime Emmy Award in 1961.