The enduring legacy of “Gilligan’s” jolly sea-shanty theme is, of course, its impossible-to-forget lyrics (we know, we’ve tried) that told the entire tale of the S.S. Minnow’s ill-fated “three-hour tour” in a single minute. And that was Sherwood Schwartz’s intention from the start. Schwartz not only created the series, but also co-wrote the theme song (along with composer George Wyle), which Schwartz crafted as a quick way to get new viewers caught up without having to waste time on exposition. Schwartz went on to repeat this approach with another beloved ’60s TV classic: “The Brady Bunch.”
The “Gilligan” theme song underwent one major change after the show’s first season: The Professor (Russell Johnson) and Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), originally referred to in the lyrics as “the rest,” were added by name to the opening credits. The switch came thanks to star Bob Denver (Gilligan), who personally went to the studio and asked that Johnson and Wells be added to the theme. The studio refused at first, saying it’d be too expensive to reshoot the opening. But Denver insisted, even saying that if Johnson and Wells weren’t included, he wanted his name out of the song as well. The studio caved, and “the Professor and Mary Ann” were shoehorned in at the very end of the theme for Seasons 2 and 3.
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