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Jerry Van Dyke Rejected Lead Role In ‘Gilligan’s Island’ For A Flop

The cast of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ | CBS via Getty Images

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Jerry Van Dyke Rejected Lead Role In ‘Gilligan’s Island’ For A Flop

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Gilligan’s Island is one of pop culture’s most iconic television shows, despite the fact that it only aired for three seasons, it is still extremely popular with fans of all ages in repeats. Actors like Bob Denver and Tina Louise became stars as a result of the series, and they are still best remembered for their roles in it. Few anticipated Gilligan’s Island to be so successful when it first aired, and as a result, numerous actors, including Jerry Van Dyke, a well-known television personality, declined major parts in the series.

Born in 1931, he was lured to entertainment from an early age, much like his elder brother. As a young man, he began his career as a stand-up comic, playing in nightclubs before making early appearances on “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

Schwartz’s first choice to play the titular character was the younger Van Dyke sibling, but he chose the lead part in the short-lived “My Mother the Car” instead at the request of his agency. In the end, the show’s narrative anchor, Bob Denver, was cast in the starring role.

Van Dyke previously stated that he turned it down because he despised the screenplay, which he described as “the worst thing I’d ever read.”

Rather than play Gilligan, Van Dyke accepted a leading role in another ’60s sitcom, titled My Mother the Car. Although Van Dyke later claimed that the script for My Mother the Car was excellent, and worlds ahead of the one he read for Gilligan’s Island, the series itself turned out to be one of television’s biggest bombs.

For fans, it’s difficult to picture anybody else in the role of the charming Gilligan.

Even so, showrunners were on the lookout for the ideal Gilligan before the premiere. With Van Dyke, they believed they’d discovered the best match for the part.

The episode premiered in 1964 and followed a “three-hour tour” that went horribly wrong when their boat capsized on an island.

The show follows the passengers, including Gilligan, Skipper, the professor, Mary Anne, Ginger Grant, Thurston Howell, and his wife, as they get themselves into a variety of hilarious situations.

Many people, from those who watched it when it initially aired to young fans who discovered it in repeat form, still consider Gilligan’s Island to be a favorite today.

Van Dyke continued to work on television for the rest of his career, appearing on shows and in advertisements. Van Dyke died of heart failure in the early months of 2018. His death came as a shock to the Hollywood world, putting an end to a great career defined by a sequence of extreme highs and dramatic lows.

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