1964: Gilligan Goes on a Three Hour Tour
It is said that if you’ve seen one episode of Gilligan’s Island, you’ve seen them all. However, when the show premiered on this day in 1964, the show was already altered a great deal from its original concept. The basic premise was the same, but three of the seven castaways were totally different. Instead of the Professor, Ginger and MaryAnn, the “lost pilot” featured a high school teacher (John Gabriel), Bunny (Nancy McCarthy) a dumb blonde secretary and Ginger (Kit Smythe) a “practical” secretary. The theme song was completely different too. The music was written by John Williams with a calypso-styled beat and the lyrics were sung by Sherwood Schwarz, the creator of the show. This theme song was twice as long as the now famous one and was, well, horrible.The original show starred Bob Denver (Gilligan), Alan Hale Jr. (Captain Jonas “Skipper” Grumby), Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III), Natalie Schafer (Lovey Wentworth-Howell), Tina Louise (Ginger Grant), Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley) and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann Summers). The show ran for three seasons from 1964-1966. It was followed by three TV reunion films (Rescue from Gilligan’s Island, 1978; The Castaways on Gilligan’s Island, 1979 and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, 1981), two cartoon series voiced by most of the original cast by Filmation (The New Adventures of Gilligan’s Island, 1974 and Gilligan’s Planet, 1982), a TV docudrama (Surviving Gilligan’s Island, 2001), a theatre show (Gilligan’s Island: The Musical), a reality TV series (The Real Gilligan’s Island, 2004) and rumors of a remake.
1991: ABC Gambles with ‘Cop Rock’
Steven Bochco, known for creating TV series like Hill Street Blues, Doogie Howser, M.D. and NYPD Blues, hasn’t always made hit shows. His most notorious work, Cop Rock, premiered on the ABC network on this day in 1991. The show combined the typical and serious police procedural with a Broadway-styled rock music and dancing production. The end result was just as odd as one would think it would be. TV Guide said that the show was “the single most bizarre TV musical of all time.” The show was a critical and ratings loser and so, the show was yanked after 11 episodes. Despite all of the bad press, Cop Rock was nominated for five Emmy Awards in 1991 winning two for Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production and Outstanding Achievement in Music and Lyrics.
- 1888: T.S. Eliot (playwright)
- 1914: Jack LaLanne (fitness expert)
- 1932: Donna Douglas (actress)
- 1948: Olivia Newton-John (singer)
- 1956: Linda Hamilton (actress)
- 1962: Melissa Sue Anderson (actress)
- 1968: Jim Caviezel (actor)
- 1981: Serena Williams (tennis player)
- 1984: Nev Schulman (TV host)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.