I must also applaud the GILLIGAN'S ISLAND cast, an ensemble of seven performers blending together quite effortlessly.
Bob Denver makes Gilligan a lovable nitwit, a goofball with a heart of gold. He is adept at physical comedy, incorporating a Lucy-style sense of humor with island locales.
Alan Hale Jr. eases the harshness of the Skipper, and makes you love him. In less capable hands, the character could've been mean, but Hale humanizes him into a gentle giant.
Jim Backus brings such a life to Mr. Howell, the entitled millionaire who weasels his way in and out of jams with the money he managed to bring with him. His ad-libs only add to the characterization.
Natalie Schaefer and her genuine "rich" accent embodies Lovey Howell, giving her layers beyond a mere shallow society wife. In the right circumstance, she can be a mother to the younger castaways.
Tina Louise combines both sex appeal and humor into Ginger, the movie star from Hollywood. While vain and self-centered, she befriends the others on the island.
Russell Johnson is the perfect straight man as the Professor, the brain of the group that has the thankless job of spitting out some of the strongest scientific jargon known to man. His deadpan-like delivery plays in contrast to the silliness spinning around him.
Dawn Wells brings a sugary sweetness to Mary Ann, the sweet-natured farm girl from Kansas. She spoils the castaways with her coconut creme pies and other home spun remedies and traditions.
These seven people worked greatly off one another, elevating a silly, mid-'60s sitcom into a pop culture phenomenon. The show has been analyzed as representing the seven deadly sins with its cast, while the "Ginger or Mary Ann?" debate has grasped generations into discussing who is more appealing --- the glamour queen or the girl-next-door.
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND is a genuinely funny show, but a cast of this caliber only strengthens it. The follow-up TV movies failed to fully carry on the charm, partly because of the actors aging, the changing TV landscape, and the absence of Tina Louise as Ginger. What Judith Baldwin and Constance Forslund (the actresses replacing Louise in the TV movies) lacked was Ginger's sense of humor. They amped up the sexiness while basically eliminating what made her funny.
Anyway, GILLIGAN'S ISLAND boasts a good, well-orchestrated cast. They're perfect. It's probably my favorite sitcom from the '60s.
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