Did you ever notice the wrong Ginger and Mary Ann appear in the first Gilligan's episode?
Look for the original pilot cast in ''Two on a Raft.''
Read to Me
The first episode of Gilligan's Island was not the first episode of Gilligan's Island. Americans met the Skipper and the other kooky castaways on September 26, 1964, when the Sherwood Schwartz sitcom made its debut with "Two on a Raft." In that series premiere, audiences saw the SS Minnow leave its Hawaiian harbor for a three-hour tour that, as we all know, lasted three seasons.
But, similar to Star Trek and its rejected pilot "The Cage," Gilligan's Island had a failed false start.
A year prior, Schwartz had written and filmed a pilot for his wacky lost-at-sea concept. This episode, "Marooned," featured significant differences from the final product. The ship sailed in the Caribbean, for starters. A wildly different theme song (composed by John Williams!) followed suit with a calypso vibe.
Oh, and there were different actors in familiar roles. Tina Louise, Dawn Wells and Russell Johnson were nowhere to be found.
Kit Smythe played Ginger. John Gabriel, perhaps best known as WJM-TV sportscaster Andy Rivers on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, portrayed the Professor. The blonde Nancy McCarthy bounced on the beach as… "Bunny"?
Schwartz retooled the casting, characters and setting to craft the Gilligan's Island we all known and love. "Marooned" was stowed away unseen for three decades.
Well, not entirely.
Like any thrifty production, Gilligan's Island recycled. "Two on a Raft" used a few shots from "Marooned." Carefully examine the moment when the Skipper awakes following the boat wreck. You can see it in the image at the top of this post.
The rest of the passengers doze on the deck. Indeed, the sleeping sailors are Smythe, McCarthy and Gabriel.
Neither the alternate Ginger nor "Bunny" did much else on television. Though, they did appear in some classic series. You can spot McCarthy twice on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and My Three Sons. Smythe briefly but memorably played a friend of Samantha, "Gertrude," in season one of Bewitched. She was also on a Gunsmoke.
Imagine how different their careers — and pop culture — might have been had they stayed on the island. They might have at least met the Harlem Globetrotters.