Fifty-five years ago, on Sept. 26, 1964, “Gilligan’s Island” premiered on American television.
As was one of the wackiest yet most enduring of the escapist TV comedies from the 60s, the show remains popular today in unending cable networks reruns.
To celebrate the show’s first broadcast, the Hollywood Museum in The Historic Max Factor Building in Los Angeles will unveil a new lobby exhibit on September 25. Dawn Wells, one of the two surviving cast members, will attend the VIP reception. The following day – the anniversary of the show’s original debut on CBS – the exhibit will open to the public for a month (see www.TheHollywoodMuseum.com).
During the three-season run of “Gilligan’s Island” (and several reunion movies), Wells played Mary Ann, one of the seven castaways shipwrecked on an uncharted Pacific island (see www.dawnwells.com).
“I’m still talking and writing about the show and it continues to gain new fans,” said Wells, who turns 81 in October, from Los Angeles. “If you’re a 10-year-old kid watching the show today, there’s not much to date it – a desert island is a desert island!”
Portrayed as a perky wholesome Kansas farm girl, Wells says the series has always provided some life lessons beyond the comedy.
“It was a fun, silly show that made you laugh and didn’t preach to the audience,” she said. “But there was an awful lot in the character of Mary Ann that kids could learn from today: she was fair, she pitched in to help, she had standards, she wasn’t worried about a $500 purse, and she would be your best friend you could trust.”
Those, she says, are lessons “we can all learn.”
Nick Thomas teaches at Auburn University at Montgomery, Ala., and has written features, columns, and interviews for over 750 magazines and newspapers. See www.getnickt.org