‘Gilligan’s Island’: How Did ‘Skipper’ Actor Alan Hale Jr. Die?

by Megan Molseed
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He is often remembered as the unofficial leader of “Gilligans Island.” Alan Hale Jr.’s character, The Skipper was often stepping in as a father figure for the rest of the group. When the S.S. Minnow Captian, his passengers, and The Skipper’s first mate Gilligan (Bod Denver) were caught in a frightful storm in 1964 it began the longest “three-hour tour” in history.

It’s been over 31 years since the memorable actor lost his battle with thymus cancer in January of 1990. Alan Hale jr. battled the rare form of cancer for several months before his death. Thymus cancer is cancer of the small organ located just behind the sternum, just in front and above the heart.

“Gilligan Island’s” Famous Three-Hour Tour

The actor got his start in 1941, but found fame in the hit series “Gilligans Island.” In the iconic series, which ran from 1964 until 1967, Alan Hale Jr. played the easily excitable Skipper. He captains the ship with the help of his first mate, Gilligan. The ship eventually capsizes wrecks in a storm marooning the captain, the crew member, and his passengers indefinitely.

The passengers joining The Skipper and Gilligan on the island include a millionaire (Jim Backus), and his wife (Natalie Schafer). The professor (Russell Johnson), and a former movie star (Tina Louise), rounded out the “Gilligan’s Island” cast.

The dynamic between The Skipper (Hale) and Gilligan (Denver) was one of the most popular aspects of the show. Gilligan is established as The Skipper’s “Little Buddy,” however the Skipper often has very little patience for the clumsy castaway.

A Comedic Duo

During the show’s three-year run, Gilligan regularly messes up rescue opportunities, frustrating the entire group. Although, The Skipper seems to be the most annoyed by Gilligan’s ineptitude. The Skipper often expresses his frustration by conking Gilligan on the head with his hat. This move quickly became one of the show’s running gags. The Skipper is often on the receiving end of Gilligan’s clumsiness. Whenever the character is in his “lookout” tree he seems to end the lookout by falling out of the tree. Inevitably, The Skipper is always standing below for Gilligan to land on.

Hale appeared in many movies with some big names such as Kirk Douglass and Robert Wagner. While Alan Hale Jr. was present on the screen starting in 1941, his “Gilligan’s Island” role was his most famous. Hale lost his battle with cancer at age 68.

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