‘Gilligan’s Island’ Star, Natalie Schafer, Only Took The Role For The Free Trip to Hawaii

Gilligan Island it was first broadcast in 1964. The pilot of the show, which was filmed in Hawaii, was so believable that viewers were concerned that a shipwreck crew had been captured on a deserted island. For three seasons, fans would look inwards to see what antiques Gilligan and his friends would get into. Years later, the show is still a cultural sensation, but not all actors were sure it would be an immediate sight. Natalie Schafer agreed to represent Lovey Howell for a non-controversial reason.

Natalie Schafer did not expect Gilligan Island to be successful

Schafer may have been famous for representing Lovey Howell on it Gilligan Island, but the series was far from her dream career. Before signing on to the happy wife Thurston Howell III, Schafer made a name for herself on Broadway. She appeared in 17 plays before appearing in the TV series.

    Ginger (Tina Louise), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), and Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schaefer) in 'Gilligan Island'
Ginger (Tina Louise), Mary Ann (Dawn Wells), and Mrs. Howell (Natalie Schaefer) in ‘Gilligan Island’ | Bettmann / Getty Pictures

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After appearing in several films, the show’s creators approached Schafer about the series. Reportedly, she thought the show was silly and thought it would not pass the pilot, yet she agreed to take over the job. That is not what happened, however.

Schafer only agreed to take the job for a free tour

If Schafer did not think the show was going to be a success, why did she agree to take the role of Ms. Howell in the first place? She was simply interested in taking a free tour. according to CBS, Schafer agreed to represent Ms. Howell as the pilot was being filmed in Hawaii. She wanted to go on a trip to the islands, and filming the pilot was an easy way to get there.

Part of the 'Gilligan Island' team
Members of ‘Gilligan Island’ CBS through Getty Images

Schafer eventually settled into the role, but apparently, she never thought the series would run for three full seasons and grow in a sense of pop culture. As a result of her portrayal of Ms. Howell, a ton of guest posts followed the end of the show. Schafer died at the age of 90 in 1991.

Schafer wasn’t the only Hollywood star who didn’t expect the show to go anywhere

While Schafer was more than happy to take part in the free trip to Hawaii, other stars who talked about the show were so excited that the free island could not get people to sign up . Jerry Van Dyke gave up the sitcom because he thought it was too foolish to succeed. Instead, Van Dyke signed on My mother the car.

Jerry Van Dyke standing beside a 1928 Porter car from 'My Mother the Car'
Jerry Van Dyke | Hulton Archive / Getty Images

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My mother the car a sitcom with a preview was even more relaxed than Gilligan Island. In the series, Van Dyke portrayed Dave Crabtree, a man who discovers that his mother has been renamed an old car. She communicates with him via the car’s radio. The show lasted only one season, broadcasting from September 1965 to April 1966. According to IMDb, TV Guide considered the series the second worst television show in history, just late Jerry Springer Show.

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