Did you know that the S.S. Minnow on Gilligan's Island was named after someone?

Hot tip: Exact revenge on your enemies by naming boats in your television series after them.

Image: Everett Collection

We've all heard of television creators naming one of their characters after someone in their life, but what about naming a ship after someone?

According to Russell Johnson's book, Here on Gilligan's Isle, the ship the castaways wreck on isn't just another name for a funky fish; it's also a gently concealed burn against the FCC, orchestrated by series creator, Sherwood Schwartz. 

Russell Johnson is best known as The Professor on Gilligan's Island, and in this book, he puts his scholarly credentials to good use by educating readers on the inside scoop of how Gilligan's Island came to be.

According to Johnson, the S.S. Minnow is named after Newton Minow, head of the FCC. Appointed during JFK's administration, Newton is perhaps best known for a speech he gave in 1961, where he claimed that television was a "vast wasteland." While Minow was able to acknowledge that some programs on television deserve commendation, one of which being The Twilight Zone, he denounced a vast majority of television of that time. While Minow had his reasons for the criticism that some might argue are valid, Sherwood Schwartz seemed to share the feelings of the vast majority of television creators when he took offense to Minow's words.

In an interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Schwartz revealed that he'd been burned by Minow, albeit indirectly. While Gilligan's Island aired a few years after Minow's speech, Schwartz blamed the FCC head for the rise in power of the network in regards to television series. According to Schwartz, the network had taken his original pilot of Gilligan's Island and added new footage of their own without his knowledge, resulting in a poor reception during audience testing.

Schwartz stated, "That's network control for you — which they never used to have before Mr. Minow, who the boat is named after, by the way." Of Mr. Minow, Schwartz said, "He's the one who gave control of television to the networks." Because Shwartz couldn't directly reference Minow by naming the boat after him, he instead added an extra "N," which allowed for the easy rationalization that the ship was named after the fish.

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10 Comments

cheduff 5 months ago
What I find very annoying is the amount of ads for casinos. With the state of the economy the way it is, ads for casinos should be banned like liquor and cigarette ads are BANNED.
seltaeb 5 months ago
Who was Gertrude that the writers or Sheldon Leonard were P/O at, that they would name a leaky rowboat after her. Just had a quiz on this episode "The Manhunt"
JHP 5 months ago
can you imagine Mr Minow now with all the tripe and trash on tv?
WilliamJorns JHP 5 months ago
Oh yeah, he'd have an even lower opinion of the medium today. Myself, I see television as basically an electronic billboard, what with only 42 minutes of each hour devoted to programming while the other 18 goes to advertising. And it's only getting worse! Back in the early 60's, there were only four one-minute commercial breaks in each programming hour. They showed two 30-second ads in each break, then back to the show. 60 minutes - 4 = 56 minutes of programming.
JHP WilliamJorns 5 months ago
BINGO! X1000. Nowadays it's the same ol sh*t misleading inane commercials. Love that fine print after a snake oil or car ad
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WilliamJorns 5 months ago
There was a fantasy film (I forget which one right now) in which its evil dragon was named the Ebersisk, after film critics Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel.
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