This article was originally published on JustStarz
Gilligan's Island, the American sitcom released in the 1960s, followed a group of castaways shipwrecked and trying to survive on a strange, remote island. This show became a pop cultural landmark, and people couldn't wait week after week to tune in for the characters' witty and intriguing adventures. Undoubtedly the shipwrecked cast made tidal waves, and all gained notoriety practically overnight. Now that it's been over 50 years since the last episodes of this show have aired, what has the cast of Gilligan's Island been up too? Grab a coconut drink, kick back and read on to find out.
Tina Louise as Ginger Grant
Tina Louise played Ginger Grant in the American TV show Gilligan's Island. Her role in the show was a beautiful posh movie star expecting to get some well-needed relaxation on a cruise. Suddenly she found herself stranded on an island with random strangers. She did not enjoy being there but did help her fellow castaways frequently and even made a best friend- Mary Ann. She was known for her bold fashion statements, hair always perfectly intact and as stylish as ever.
Of course, ball gowns are absolutely perfect for a hot, deserted island. They may not be practical, but Ginger definitely brought the sass and allure.
Tina Louise Now
Tina was best known for her part in the show Gilligan's Island as Ginger but did take on other passion projects. She acted in several shows and movies since her iconic role, recorded a solo album, wrote several books, and even volunteered to tutor kids in New York City with their literacy skills. At eighty-eight years old, Tina Louise is alive and well, most recently putting her original paintings on display at the Patterson Museum of Art.
Though her character, Ginger, was best friends with Mary Ann, played by Dawn Wells, in the show, they happened to be close in real life too. Tina is still thriving, but where is Dawn Wells today? Continue to read where Ginger's on-screen best friend is today.
Larry Storch As Jackson Farrell
Larry Storch played Jackson Farrell, a criminal hiding from the police on the deserted island. He robbed a few banks and was on the run from the police; but tried to convince the other people stranded on the island that he was a good guy, even a doctor by profession. When his cover eventually gets blown, he holds the others hostage! Though in real life, Larry was a good guy, best known for his voiceovers.
Interestingly, he grew up during the Great Depression and never finished high school, so he found work as a comic for only twelve dollars a week!
Larry Storch Now
Larry appeared on so many famous shows like Sonny and Cher, The Ed Sullivan Show, and The Tonight Show. He was known for being charismatic, hilarious, and extremely talented. Though his part on Gilligan's Island was one of a criminal, he couldn't be further from that in his own life. He was incredibly well-versed in the entertainment world, racking up hundreds of credits. His final appearance on screen was in a show called, Medium Rare, back in 2010.
Sadly, he passed away at the age of 99 in his home on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, reportedly from natural causes, but some speculated from Alzheimer’s complications.
Dawn Wells As Mary Ann Summers
Dawn Wells played the sweetheart Mary Ann Summers in Gilligan's Island. She was the crush of many viewers, radiating beauty. She was known to care for the other castaways and did most chores on the show. Cooking, cleaning, and keeping things in order were her forte. It became a running gag on the show that she could whip up a meal out of any random ingredients the castaways found on the island.
Mary Ann's sweetness and generosity could sometimes be mistaken for weakness which unfortunately meant she was taken advantage of sometimes. But for the most part, the other castaways appreciated her and were always gracious for her presence.
Dawn Wells Now
Dawn Wells was on fire in the 1960s, frequenting many tv shows with new roles and being seen as America's latest sweetheart for that time. Though it didn't last very long, as the 1970s approached, her career had already quieted down. Eventually, she slowly stopped acting and encountered many financial struggles. This resulted in her fans starting a GoFundMe page for her that raised over $200,000, a sad twist of fate. From fame and attention to relying on the generosity of strangers.
Dawn sadly passed away in 2020 from COVID-19 -related causes; however, she will live on in people's hearts as a favorite character on the show.
Natalie Schafer As Lovey Howell
Natalie's famous character, Mrs. Lovely Howell, in Gilligan's Island, was a high-class woman endowed with riches, nice clothes, and jewels. Lovely Howell didn't seem to be the person who would survive ship wreckage and scavenging for food. How could she possibly cope when her one love in life was money? However, the way Natalie brought this character to life was magnificent. She conveyed that even though she was used to the finer things in life, she could handle and even find joy in her new island life.
Her character brought such a great comedic relief to the show, and of course, her beauty and fashion were bold and always entertaining to witness on screen.
Natalie Schafer Now
Long before Natalie Schafer's time on Gilligan's Island, she took on roles in which she played characters of high society. She was very successful and became known for playing posh women. She could encapsulate the mannerisms and characteristics so well that people questioned if she was really acting. After the show ended, she continued as Lovely Howell in a few spin-offs. Her last role on the big screen was in the movie I'm Dangerous Tonight.
Apparently she was a breast cancer survivor, which she withheld from her fans and friends. Sadly the character that generations of Gilligan's Island fans loved so much passed away in 1991 from liver cancer.
Kurt Russell As Jungle Boy
Kurt Russell played the famous Jungle Boy that the gang of castaways encountered on the deserted island early in the first season. He was very young then, but his dedication to playing the part was magnificent. He was supposed to help and provide the other castmates with a way to get off the island. But he was sneaky and stole their means of escaping as soon as they took him in.
This was ultimately a fun yet intricate role for such a young boy to play; he was around eleven years old at the time. However, this was precisely why it was very impressive.
Kurt Russell Now
When Kurt was a young boy, he got his big break with multiple minor guest appearances on various TV shows; but went on to become a big movie star. He married Goldie Hawn and birthed a daughter who surpassed him in fame, Kate Hudson. Though his part on Gilligan's Island was relatively short-lived, his career continues to grow. He started his career with a more wholesome image and now mostly plays hard-edged tough guys.
As of lately, he's starred in films like The Hateful Eight, The Fate of the Furious, and Guardians of the Galaxy, continuing to wow audiences and flex his acting skills.
Michael Forest As Ugundi
Michael Forest was first introduced as Ugundi in one of the series' final episodes. Another character, Gilligan, rescued a native woman on the island from drowning, and she told Gilligan that this now meant she was indebted to him and would do whatever he wanted. However, the girl's ex-boyfriend, Ugundi, found out and threatened to fight Gilligan. Ugundi was a very macho character, ready to fight and assert his dominance.
Michael was able to transport his character's emotions so well from the script to on-screen that you could feel the rage and intimidation. He was incredibly talented and brought this fun character to life.
Michael Forest Now
In real life, Michael wasn't as scary as his character. He continued his acting career after his time on Gilligan's Island and charmed his way through many different characters. He even did a ton of voice acting for TV and video games. In fact, people now would probably recognize him more by his voice than by his looks. Today he is approaching 94 years old; though he doesn't act much, he is alive and healthy.
Though he was relatively successful, he did share once, "I don't think there's anything terribly memorable in what I did. I would like to have had a big role in some film that was a little more important, but that never happened."
Don Rickles As Norbert Wiley
The crew on the island were having a rough time; it was season three, and they still didn't escape and continued to struggle. That's when Don's character, Norbert Riley, joined in on the fun. He showed up and immediately held several people captive, demanding money for their release. Though Don might be clever, his character was not. He was eventually beaten at his own game, and the castaways escaped, even capturing him.
Don played a sly but impressive character on Gilligan's Island and definitely contributed to the show's impact, even if he joined the cast only in season three.
Don Rickles Now
Don Rickles experienced his breakthrough in the entertainment world in the 1950s and joined the cast of Gilligan's Island soon after. He went on to act in iconic roles throughout the next few decades and was primarily known for his insult comedy. Out of all his many achievements, he shared that his family was indeed most impressed with him being the voice behind the famous Mr. Potato Head in the Toy Story franchise.
He died at the age of 90 and afterward, dozens of celebrities held tributes for him to honor and respect the legacy he left behind.
Zsa Zsa Gabor As Erika Tiffany-Smith
With the most unique name you've ever heard, the gorgeous Zsa Zsa Gabor joined the island as Erika. A young, stunning socialite who came across the group of castaways and was supposed to help them escape. She informed the Navy about the group that was stranded but never took note of the coordinates; therefore, people couldn't find exactly where the group of shipwrecked passengers were. Her time on the show was short-lived.
She perfectly captures someone so struck by lust, as she was with the Professor on the island, that she was blind to the urgency of their situation. Rather than seriously helping them escape, they were left stranded, and she was left clouded by her attraction for the enchanting Professor.
Zsa Zsa Gabor Now
Zsa Zsa lived a life full of excitement; along with her time on Gilligan's Island, she acted in dozens of roles and took the crown for Miss Hungary. She was even married nine times, once stating, "Men have always liked me, and I have always liked men." She was very glamorous and known to exude grace and charm. Unfortunately, she became ill in her old age, and she died just a few weeks away from her 100th birthday.
However, she is not just a star of the past. Even today Zsa Zsa continues to serve as an inspiration to many who are mesmerized by her iconic fashion looks, beauty, and confidence.
Russell Johnson As The Professor Roy Hinkley
When the Professor made his on-screen appearance, people were convinced the castaways finally made it; maybe they would figure out a way to no longer be stranded. He would spend his days making inventions in hopes they would save the castaways. Of course, these inventions would never work. Though his character was very knowledgeable, he couldn't manage to patch the hole in the ship, arguably the most important thing they needed.
It became a running joke among viewers that the Professor could build nearly anything from coconuts and bamboo, yet he could not repair the damaged ship and figure out how to leave the island.
Russell Johnson Now
Russell shared that after his time on Gilligan's Island, it became challenging for him to land any other roles as significant as it was. He was suddenly typecast as a professor, and though he was able to continue his acting career, it wasn't exactly what he imagined for himself. "It used to make me upset to be typecast as the Professor...But as the years have gone by, I've given in. I am the Professor, and that's the way it is...Besides, the show went into syndication, and parents are happy to have their children watch the reruns."
By 2014, Russell had managed to rack up hundreds of credits for various roles in his acting career but sadly passed away from kidney complications.
Denny Miller As Duke Williams
Denny Miller was most famously known for his role as Tarzan in the 1950s, so when he got the opportunity to play a similar character, he jumped at the chance. He played the muscular young man, Duke Williams, who ended up on the island after surfing through a tsunami. He also was a heartthrob that other castaways, such as Gingy and Mary Ann, became fascinated by. Afterward, he left the island, got hit by a rock, and lost all recollection of his time spent with them. Unfortunately, no love story ensued.
Denny Miller may have only spent a brief time on the show, but fans couldn't get enough of this hunk. His chemistry with the other actors and personality were spectacular.
Denny Miller Now
Over the next few decades, he may not have been the hunky jungle guy anymore, but he made many appearances in other TV shows and even a few movies. Denny played some cool characters in shows such as I Dream of Jeanie and The Brady Bunch. Interestingly enough, he started writing books and teaching classes on relaxation, an extreme change in his lifestyle. When he was eighty years old, he was diagnosed with ALS, and later that year, he passed away.
The actor definitely made his mark being the first blonde in the classic Tarzan. Quite the prestigious credit to carry around in the acting world.
Vito Scotti As Dr. Boris Balinkoff
Vito Scotti has had quite an extensive resume regarding his acting career. He made his debut on Broadway in Pinocchio, where he played a minor role. He was in numerous movies and TV shows before accepting his role on Gilligan's Island. The guest character, Dr. Boris Balinkoff, was a crazy scientist whose best friend was a parrot. He and his servant Igor tried to perform crazy experiments on the gang of castaways but luckily didn't manage.
He did a fantastic job portraying the craziness and irrationality of his character and truly shined through his acting skills. His knack for acting was undeniable.
Vito Scotti Now
After Vito's time on Gilligan's Island, he continued to showcase his talents in various projects like Batman, Gunsmoke, Charlie's Angels, and Mad About You. He was known for being extremely versatile, playing dramatic, comedic, and action roles- even different ethnicities! His last role in a film was in Get Shorty, back in 1995, where he acted alongside other great actors like John Travolta and Danny DeVito. He truly put his heart into his work, and his performances were fantastic.
However, in 1996, he died of lung cancer at 78 years old, only a year after his last film. He was buried in the Hollywood Forever Cemetary with other legends.
Hans Conried As Wrongway Feldman
Hans Conried also happened to be an experienced actor by the time he graced the set of Gilligan's Island. He was the voice actor for the iconic role of Captain Hook in Peter Pan. On the island, he played Wrongway Feldman, a World War I pilot who received this name after flying the wrong way and bombing his own bases. He portrays this character as extraordinarily clumsy and lacking basic social skills.
Although it was a brief stint on the show, his character was memorable. His contributions to the show made for a more exciting and funny dynamic between the crew.
Hans Conried Now
After his time with spent with the castaways, he continued to appear in other projects such as Lost In Space and Dr. Seuss on the Loose. Along with his many guest appearances in different on-screen shows, he performed on Broadway as well. He was undoubtedly racking up quite the credits. He was a powerful actor, had a fantastic voice, and had a well-loved career that people will remember for a long time.
In January 1982, Hans suffered a heart attack and passed away. It was only days before his 40th wedding anniversary, which was especially heartbreaking for his family.
Jim Backus As Thurston Howell III
Jim Backus was an Americana actor who gained significant popularity for his role as Thurston Howell on Gilligan's Island. He played an extremely wealthy man who went on a vacation with his wife and ended up shipwrecked and stranded on a remote island. He was used to buying his way out of everything but couldn't pay anyone to rescue them from this. Therefore he became just another one of the castaways.
Though his money didn't matter while stranded, the other castaways still looked at him as a higher class than them. This resulted in him sitting back and relaxing while the others dealt with the stress of being shipwrecked.
Jim Backus Now
Jim had an extensive career and worked hard in Hollywood for over five decades. He had other significant roles like playing the father of James Dean's character in Rebel Without a Cause and the voice of the cartoon character Mr. Magoo. He was an excellent on-screen and voice actor and had many roles in animated films. However, his character Thurston Howell was one of his last because he passed away in 1989 from complications of pneumonia.
Undeniably Jim Backus was talented and had many acting credits to showcase for it; the entertainment world certainly lost a bright star when he passed.
Bob Denver As Gilligan
As you probably guessed, Bob Denver was the leading character in the sitcom Gilligan's Island. He was famous for his little white hat and iconic role in the show. He was the first mate of the stranded ship, yet he was very child-like. A fun character that preferred to dismiss adult responsibilities and go on adventures. His fellow castaways were very fond of him, and his love for them was apparent throughout the show.
Bob Denver acted in several other shows and even replaced Woody Allen in a production on Broadway. He received much praise for this role, with some critics saying he had "a genuine clown-like wistfulness."
Bob Denver Now
Although Bob Denver was the leading star in Gilligan's Island, it wasn't his first time being an essential character. He was also known for spending time on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and starred in many other TV shows. He was a man of great talent, and the TV world undoubtedly felt his presence. After an inspiring career, he decided to retire in 1997; however, only eight years later, he passed away due to pneumonia.
In the last years of his life, he may not have been heavily involved in entertainment anymore, but he always held a spot as an influential actor that brightened people's days when they saw him on screen.
Alan Hale Jr. As Jonas Grumby
Alan Hale Jr. started on Broadway at age ten and continued to act in various TV shows and films. But he was most known for his character Jonas Grumbly, who was also known by his nickname, the Skipper. He originally was the captain of the ship that crashed and created the iconic group of stranded castaways on Gilligan's Island. Though it was all on his shoulders to navigate the boat, he couldn't manage.
As Skipper, he had made it his goal to ensure everyone survived on the remote island. Although he was a captain and used to having a lot of control, he had a big heart and cared for his passengers immensely.
Alan Hale Jr. Now
Alan was extremely dedicated to his craft. Though his character couldn't manage to drive a ship, he sure could manage to bring his character to life perfectly. The charming personality and passion for acting were evident. After Gilligan's Island was canceled, he took some guest roles on several other series. He never felt entirely as connected to the show as he did playing Skipper. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer later in his life and passed away in 1990.
The actor has an awe-inspiring long list of credits and solidified his place in Hollywood. As an ode to him after his death, his family had him cremated and spread his ashes into the Pacific Ocean.
Richard Kiel as Ghost, Then and Now
Richard Kiel undoubtedly made his presence known on screen. Standing at a meagering height of 7 ft 2 in (218 cm), he immediately was typecast in Hollywood for any intimidating or scary character. When he joined the castaways in 1966, he played a Russian spy who had to scare away the castaways. However, his big break wasn't there but rather when he played a henchman in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me.
Richard may have played villain characters but was an outgoing guy who enjoyed his time on every set in Hollywood. Sadly he passed away a week before his 75th birthday after a heart attack.
Harold J. Stone as Alexandre Gregor Dubov, Then and Now
Harold found himself on Gilligan's Island after he made a name for himself on other projects such as Spartacus, Gunsmoke, and Bonanza. He played a famous odd painter who renounced civilization and wanted to live on the remote island, painting away. He was hilarious and brought light to every scene he was in. Though his great performances didn't stop there; later in his life, he was nominated for an Emmy award for his leading role in The Nurses.
Harold was married, separated a few times, and had his own family. When he was 92 years old, he passed away, but the actor's name is still recognizable to his many fans.
Nehemiah Persoff as El Presidente, Then and Now
Nehemiah Persoff surprised audiences when he appeared on Gilligan's Island because he had already been in shows like The Twilight Zone and The Untouchables. He played a Latin-American dictator who tried to establish a revolution on the island, but that wasn't the end of his acting career. He had cameo roles in almost every popular show, and his acting repertoire was phenomenal. Later in his life, he retired from Hollywood and took up painting instead.
One of Hollywood's busiest actor's died just this year in 2022, at the ripe old age of 102. He was truly an inspiration to many.
John McGiver as Lord Beasley Waterford, Then and Now
John McGiver had worked as a professional actor before his appearance in Gilligan's Island, starring in movies like Breakfast at Tiffany's and The Manchurian Candidate. When he joined the others on the island, he played a British man looking for a rare butterfly. A very niche character that he managed to bring to life with such poise. In his own life, he was a family man who married and then fathered ten kids.
John passed away from a heart attack at the young age of 61 back in 1971, but you can still see his great works on film.
Phil Silvers as Harold Hecuba, Then and Now
Phil Silvers plays Harold, a Hollywood producer who ends up on the island, and the castaways are convinced they could tempt him into rescuing them off the island. However, he sneaks off the island overnight and leaves them to their devices. Besides his domineering character, he was known to be quite the comedian in real life; he made audiences laugh for decades. He later became known for his show, The Phil Silvers Show, and won two Emmy awards.
As Phil aged, he suffered many health issues and passed away in his sleep in 1985, though his legacy continues to live on to this day.
Through: Getty Images/Bettmann