The Unseen Pilot

The Story of the SS Minnow


This is the Original Minnow, the first of four. It was in a shipyard in Honolulu and the only thing wrong with it was a broken engine. Every worker in the shipyard wanted to buy it because it was in such good shape. So, there they were, working one day, when two men dressed in suits and one man dressed like them, carrying a sledgehammer, walked into the boatyard. The men walked to the Minnow and around it a few times – finally, one of the suits pointed toward the bow, and the man with the sledgehammer walked over and banged a huge hole in it, then, much to the disbelief of the onlookers, he walked to the stern, lifted the hammer and did the very same thing!


All the workers in the yard dropped their tools, stopped in their tracks and just stared. Then a crane came, lifted the Minnow onto a barge, and a tugboat towed it out of sight. There was no more work in the yard that day, believe me. Everyone ran to the nearest bar to tell everyone what they had seen. As far as they were concerned, “Those crazy haoles (mainlanders) had done it again !”


The second Minnow was the one we used in the opening credits, the one that took the passengers on their three-hour tour. About 10 years ago, it was out on the ocean and started sinking. The Coast Guard had to rescue the fisherman owner.

The third Minnow was used for the color shows in the opening credits, which were shot in Marina Del Ray in LA, California.


The fourth Minnow is the one you see in the episode where the Castaways tried to glue it back together again.


We did our usual very bad job! ~  as told by Bob


The Pilot Episode

'Unseen’ for almost 30 years, the original GI pilot was finally aired by Turner Broadcasting on October 16th, 1992. Filmed at Moloaa Bay on the island of Kauai, the pilot was the only episode of the show filmed on a real, honest-to-goodness island . . . . and what an island it was. Bob loved Kauai like no other place on earth. No matter what gags were filmed on any given day, no matter how many hours he spent fully clothed in the water, working in paradise stayed with Bob his entire life. When the going got tough, and after his son’s diagnosis, it did, Bob and Dreama always had Kauai.


The Original Cast

Once upon a time on an island in the south pacific, there were seven stranded castaways . . .

Gilligan  . . . the Skipper too . . . the Millionaire and his wife . . . the Secretary . . . the Professor and Bunny too  . . .


Bob’s words ~ John Gabriel was a hunky Hollywood leading man type, who originally landed the role of the Professor. He was a nice man, great to work with. All three actors were very good in their parts. After all, their work helped sell the pilot. This might make you wonder why they were let go.


Meddlesome interference from the networks is the answer to that one – always trying to ‘fix’ things. Their reasons for wanting changes were lame, but the producers were forced into the recasting process anyway.


You’ve gotta remember, these were the same network people who thought it would 

be a really good idea if Gilligan had a pet dinosaur. Somehow Sherwood 

managed to sidestep that one!

image4

Remembering His Mates

Alan Hale, Jr.


“Working with Alan was a joy. He was a pure professional.
 Always knew his lines and was capable of improvising at the last minute. Many times, just before the take, we would whisper to each other what we were going
to do in the scene. No rehearsal, we trusted each other. Every once in a while 
we would get a crew member to burst out laughing, ruining the take. This is the highest compliment. We knew the audience at home watching would laugh too. As I look back on those years working with Alan, I realize more and more, it 
was a special time. We had great fun together and he made the work seem easy. He brings a smile to my face even now.” 



Often referred to as the Laurel and Hardy of their day, Bob and Alan had a special relationship that lasted all through the series and beyond. Alan was a gentle giant, who took great care never to hurt Bob during any of their much loved physical schtick, which included hammock gags and numerous whacks at Gilligan with his famous Skipper’s hat!


Jim Backus


”What can I say about Jim? When Alan didn’t have me laughing, Jim did. When he arrived on the set, the jokes started, and they were good ones. One of the things I liked about him was that he was always up. Full of energy. One of his favorite things to do involved the soundman. When he exited a hut, he did what he called ‘mumble-offs’. 

With his back to the camera, he would mumble a bunch of words in a low voice. 

The content was sometimes rated triple X. I’d tell him, “C’mon Jim, 

this is a family show.” He’d just laugh!”


Natalie Schafer


“Natalie was a hoot. She was another actor who was always prepared. This was no surprise because she had 25 years of appearing on Broadway, plus numerous film credits. The Time of Your Life, The Snake Pit, 40 Carats to name a few. We’d rehearse a scene a couple of times, then shoot it.


For Natalie it was all the same. Many times, after the scene was filmed, she would ask, “Was that a take?” We would tell her, yes, and she would say, “Oh, good.” 

She had a great sense of humor, proven by the fact that she picked out all 

of the clothes that Lovey Howell wore.”



Excerpts from Bob’s book, “Gilligan, Maynard and Me”. To read more about Bob’s memories of “Gilligan’s Island” and the gang, order a copy of 

his book in Gilligan's Gift Gallery.

image9