Natalie Schafer: ''I didn't even want to be in 'Gilligan.'''
''I cried when I got the role.''
Typecasting was an issue that plagued a lot of careers after Gilligan's Island. Gilligan himself, Bob Denver, said he was "100 percent" typecast following Gilligan's enormous popularity. It didn't help that the show's characters were broad "types." It's hard to imagine Jim Backus as anything but a millionaire. Tina Louise, as Ginger, was such a believable movie star, that she never got a bigger role.
Those actors were in good company, as Natalie Schafer, Gilligan's Lovey Howell, shared their struggle. In a 1989 interview with the St. Louis Dispatch, Schafer detailed how the role limited her acting workload.
"Most of the young executives and casting agents don't see past my role in Gilligan," she said. "I was on stage for years before the show and I can still do drama but they don't see it that way."
Schafer had a point. Between 1927 and 1959, Schafer appeared in 17 different Broadway plays. She also had an extensive filmography, racking up dozens of supporting role credits before ever getting marooned on that three-hour tour.
While Bob Denver reportedly didn't mind the way he was typecast after Gilligan's Island, Schafer didn't share his outlook. Instead, she made her displeasure clear: Natalie Schafer was capable of more serious work and would've preferred it to Gilligan's Island.
"I didn't even want to be in Gilligan when I tested," she said.
"I cried when I got the role."
Despite the issues with typecasting, Schafer continued to work sporadically in film and television throughout the rest of her life. While she may not have had the roles she wanted, she was able to find some joy in doing voice work.
"I love doing voice-overs for film and commercials because you don't have to hold your stomach in," she said.