‘Gilligan’s Island’: How the Ship on Series Got its Name Minnow

by Suzanne Halliburton
gilligans-island-how-ship-series-got-name-minnow

We all know the Gilligan’s Island castaways were stranded on a deserted island after their charter boat was lost during a typhoon.

There’s a whole theme song about it. The seven characters were out on a three-hour tour. The skipper was brave and sure, but he couldn’t keep the tiny ship from getting tossed. The weather was rough, but the fearless crew couldn’t handle it. That tiny boat just couldn’t get it done.

The tiny ship’s name was the S.S. Minnow. So the tiny charter boat that helped launch Gilligan’s Island was named for a tiny fish normally used for bait. But that’s not quite the whole story.

Gilligan’s Island Boat Named for Regulator

Sherwood Schwartz, who created Gilligan’s Island, named the boat in honor of his least favorite bureaucrat. Schwartz wrote in his book Inside Gilligan’s Island that he named the boat to mock Newton Minow.

So, who was Newton Minow? Back in the early 1960s, President John F Kennedy appointed Minow, a World War II vet and former Supreme Court clerk, to chair the Federal Communications Commission. Although he only served for two years, in one of his speeches, Minor referred to television as a “vast wasteland” for content. Schwartz didn’t like much of anything Minow accomplished. He certainly didn’t like the speech he game to a group of broadcasters. But by the time Gilligan’s Island premiered in 1964, Newton already had served his time on the FCC.

Schwartz wrote: “The shocking aftermath of that designation of responsibility by Mr. Minow and the FCC gave ABC, CBS, and NBC absolute authority over everything that comes into your living room on network television.”

Minow, who now is 95, has led an impactful life. President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Did You Know Sherwood Schwartz First Focused on Show While in College

Now, getting back to Gilligan’s Island and more series facts that weren’t so well known. Like, did you know Schwartz didn’t just pull a show about castaways out of thin air. He’d been thinking about it since he took a class on public speaking at New York University. His assignment was to give a one-minute speech about the item he’d most want if he was stuck on a desert island.

And how’s this for a bizarre piece of Gilligan’s Island trivia? CBS executive Hunt Stromberg, after viewing the pilot, suggested to Schwartz that he add a dinosaur to the show. The idea was to let Gilligan walk the dino around like a dog on a leash. The pilot never ran during the original run of Gilligan’s Island. Schwartz retooled the show, reimagining Ginger and Mary Ann while adding the Professor. Thankfully, the dinosaur never made it.

Outsider.com