Here’s the full roll call of the cast by their date of death:
- Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III): Died on July 3, 1989, aged 76
- Alan Hale Jr. (the Skipper): Died on January 2, 1990, aged 68
- Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Howell, aka “Lovey”): Died on April 10, 1991, aged 90
- Bob Denver (Gilligan): Died on September 2, 2005, aged 70
- Russell Johnson (the Professor): Died on January 16, 2014, aged 89
- Dawn Wells (Mary Ann): Died on December 30, 2020, aged 82
Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan’s Island (and, later, of The Brady Bunch), died on July 12, 2011 at the age of 94.
If you prefer to rank the cast by longevity, it looks like this:
- Alan Hale Jr.: lived to age 68
- Bob Denver: lived to age 70
- Jim Backus: lived to age 76
- Dawn Wells: lived to age 82
- Tina Louise: Currently at 86 years
- Russell Johnson: lived to age 89
- Natalie Schafer: lived to age 90
Add them up (excluding Tina Louise), and the average lifespan of a Gilligan’s Island actor is 79.17 years. (Toss in Sherwood Schwartz and the Gilligan-related lifespan rises to 81.29 years.)
Our new biography of Tina Louise shows that the actress had a lot more game than many people realize. She was in the original Broadway cast of the musical Li’l Abner, which was a huge hit in its day, running for 693 performances from 1956 to 1958. She studied with Lee Strasberg at the Actors Studio, which turned out alumni like Paul Newman and Al Pacino. She starred in movies in Italy and the US. And so on.
She also recorded her own album of standards, It’s Time for Tina, in 1957. Her breathy alto, and her song selection — “Let’s Do It,” “Tonight is the Night,” “Hold Me” — did nothing to dispel her image as a sensual beauty on the rise. (Bonus fact: jazz legend Coleman Hawkins played tenor sax in the studio band.)
Well, that was a long time ago. Gilligan’s Island ran from 1964 to 1967 on CBS Television, and then its 98 episodes went into reruns forever, reportedly earning $90 million for creator Sherwood Schwartz (though not for the cast).
See our full biography of Tina Louise »