- Gilligan's Island fans adore "The Skipper"
- Actor Alan Hale Jr. played the character
- He actually got the part in a strange way
Gilligan's Island wouldn't have been the same without "The Skipper."
But not just anyone could play the part. Star Alan Hale Jr. made TV history as "Captain Jonas Grumby" a.k.a. "The Skipper." But it turns out there's a strange story behind his casting on the show.
Gilligan's Island: "The Skipper" was cast in an odd way
The story goes that Gilligan's Island creator Sherwood Schwartz had cast all the stars, but he was having trouble finding the right man for "The Skipper."
He recalled in an ATF interview: "Everybody I tested was just not right. They turned dark when they started to yell at Bob Denver."
Alan Hale Jr. had not auditioned for the part. But the show creator was at dinner one night just two weeks before the pilot shoot — and still without a "Skipper" actor. Schwartz was discussing the "Skipper" problem when something remarkable occurred.
In his own words: "I look across the restaurant and sitting in the same restaurant at another table is Alan Hale. [...] I took one look and I said, 'God! There he is: that's The Skipper.'"
The story gets stranger yet. At the restaurant, Alan Hale was wearing the uniform of a Civil War soldier, which was for another role. But the Gilligan's Island creator saw "The Skipper" in the military man and arranged for him to audition.
Hale, however, had left for Utah right after. It took a dramatic journey involving a horse, hitchhiking, and a flight for the star to make his screen test with Bob Denver in Los Angeles.
But Hale made it in time and became "The Skipper" on Gilligan's Island. And the rest is TV history. The great Alan Hale Jr. lived to age 68, passing away in 1990.
Actress Tina Louise is now the last-surviving Gilligan's Island star today.