‘Gilligan’s Island’: Lovey Howell Actress Natalie Schafer Made Fortune Outside of Acting

by Katie Maloney

This Gilligan’s Island star wasn’t “rolling in the dough” after the show hit it big, so she had to get creative.

Because Gilligan’s Island has continued to air for decades, many people assume that the actors must be incredibly wealthy. However, that’s not the case. The actors received a salary while filming, but they never received any compensation for reruns. One star that was affected by this was actress Natalie Schafer who played Lovey Howell on Gilligan’s Island. During an interview, Natalie’s co-star Dawn Wells, who played Mary Ann on the show talked about people’s misconception about how much money actors make from the show.

“A misconception is that we [Gilligan’s Island stars] must be wealthy, rolling in the dough, because we got residuals. We didn’t really get a dime. I think my salary — of course, I was low on the totem pole, Ginger [Tina Louise] and Thurston [Jim Backus] got more — was $750 a week. Sherwood Schwartz, our producer, reportedly made $90 million on the reruns alone!” said Wells.

Nevertheless, Natalie Schafer managed to amass millions during her career. However, she didn’t do it by acting. Natalie and her husband, actor Louis Calhern, invested in Beverly Hills real estate very early in their careers. Their holdings paid off beyond what they could have imagined. So much so that when Natalie passed, she bequeathed $2 million to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital.

Natalie Schafer as Lovey Howell on Gilligan’s Island.

Did the Gilligan’s Island Star Leave a Part of Her Estate to Her Poodle?

Natalie Schafer was a generous and eccentric woman. Although the rumors have not been confirmed, legends say that she left a large portion of her estate to her poodle.

According to a MentalFloss article, “Schafer bequeathed a large chunk of her fortune to her favorite teacup poodle (she had no children). With instructions for that money to be donated to the Motion Picture and Television Hospital after the pooch’s passing.”

In conclusion, there was only one millionaire on Gilligan’s Island – Natalie Schafer. And although her poodle never made it onto the island, he’s living in just as much luxury as Schafer’s character, Lovey Howell.