The music by the Honeybees from Gilligan's Island turned up twice on Perry Mason
You can hear the instrumental of "You Need Us" in two of Perry's season nine cases.
It's one of the most memorable moments of Gilligan's Island. Mary Ann, Ginger and Mrs. Howell form a rock 'n' roll group called the Honeybees. The trio sings a ditty called "You Need Us" for the other castaways and the Mosquitoes, the Beatles-spoof band that has come to the isle by helicopter for some alone time. They shimmy and shake onstage in their corduroys and turtlenecks.
"Like a baby needs a toy, like Hawaiians need their poi," Mary Ann sings. Jackie DeShannon, the popular '60s hitmaker who belted the gem "What the World Needs Now Is Love," provided the vocals for Mary Ann. Tina Louise, a recording artist in her own right, and Natalie Schafer, a Broadway veteran, sang their own bits.
But we are not here to talk about the vocals. We want you to pay attention to the backing track, the snappy little shuffling rhythm with a pinch of surf guitars. It's a catchy tune. The melody certainly stuck in the heads of Perry Mason producers. That same track turned up twice in season nine of the legal mystery series during the 1965-66 season.
There's a good chance the song was still ringing in the ears of viewers, too. That Gilligan's Island episode, "Don't Bug the Mosquitoes," originally aired on December 9, 1965. Ten days later, Perry Mason served up "The Case of the Golden Girls." (Not those Golden Girls, Eighties kids.) The mystery centered around a young woman named Debbie Conrad (Victoria Vetri) who goes to work as a "Golden Bear" at a gentleman's nightclub. As much as the Mosquitoes were a parody of the Beatles, the Golden Bear Club was an obvious riff on Playboy Club. Only instead of rabbit ears, the waitresses wore fuzzy bear ears.
In the early part of the episodes, a good deal of generic rock 'n' roll can be heard on a car stereo. Guitars twang and horns blare. But the scene that made our ears perk up comes a bit later, when Debbie sneaks out of the dressing room and the club. Yep, you can hear the instrumental of "You Need Us" playing under the din of the cocktail lounge.
Ten episodes later, in "The Case of the Fanciful Frail," a young woman lies on a bed and listens to the radio. She snaps her finger to the beat and relaxes with a cigarette. The music — or, well, "Muzak" — wafting from the speaker is another instrumental take on "You Need Us."
We like to imagine that somehow the Honeybees cut made it back to the mainland. While Perry revealing killers in the courtroom, somewhere across the Pacific, the castaways are stuck on that island. But their music escaped, at least.
Take a listen.
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Having been in the recording, radio, and TV industries for years, CBS maintained a extensive collection of musical compositions, which were used on the soundtracks of radio and TV episodes for many years.
This wasn't limited to CBS shows , by the way; the various scores could turn up on any series or even theatrical movie that would pay CBS a license fee tor the use.
On MeTV, you can hear shared music themes on PERRY MASON, TWILIGHT ZONE, RAWHIDE, HAVE GUN, WILL TRAVEL, and even on THE FUGITIVE - an ABC/United Artists series which paid CBS's fee on many occasions.
Here's a fun fact I noticed: a couple of PERRY MASON episodes from the early '60s feature a melody that became a charted hit in 1965!
"A Walk In The Black Forest" by Horst Jankowski, which had been a hit in Germany a year or so before; CBS's music director, Lud Gluskin, picked up the rights in Germany (as he had for quite a few European records over the years), and added it to the CBS Library for scoring use; the hit record happened a year or so later, and Mr. Jankowski had quite a successful recording career afterward.
So there, Mom! I do too have a braincell!