Answering the Age-Old Question

March 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm (The Easy Chair)

Ginger… or Mary Ann?

Today’s kids just don’t understand. With their eyepods and youtubes, they are missing out on a big part of growing up; after-school reruns of Gilligan’s Island. Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale.

At one point it was thought that at any given moment there was an episode of Gilligan’s Island airing somewhere. (Kinda like Scrubs now.) I could tell within a few seconds which episode was starting, and whether I wanted to waste half an hour in front of the tube, or go play backyard baseball. (50/50 average.) There’s not an episode I haven’t seen, including the pilot. I even suffered through The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island, a true shark-jumping if ever there was one.

After getting older, (like about ten years ago) I went on a small nostalgia kick and started reading biographies and autobiographies of TV stars from my youth. I studied The Brady Bunch, but my favorite bunch of coconuts were the folks from the uncharted desert isle.

Russell Johnson, The Professor Roy Hinkley, (told ya I’d seen ’em all) wrote the kindest of the two books that come to mind. He politely dished on his fellow castaways. Nobody liked Ginger; she was aloof and felt the role was way beneath her acting abilities. (Which were showcased on a feminine products commercial in the ’70s, I believe.) Gilligan was a goofball, much like on the show, though not as malleable as his character. He and Mary Ann spent a lot of time together, though I don’t recall any hanky-panky being reported.

Bob Denver’s autobiography was a bit more tabloid, though he wasn’t mean about it. It was less diplomatic. He told of Ginger’s loud lovemaking in the adjoining dressing room before a shoot. It was not with him. They couldn’t stand each other.

Things the Professor and Gilligan could agree on? The Skipper was a great guy, with endless patience, but if he got pissed off it was best to run for your life. I have vague memories of a story where the Skipper, in a fit of rage, picked up the equivalent of a washing machine and threw it into the ‘lagoon’, a large, cold puddle in the back of the studio lot. (Nice Skipper, down…)

Mr and Mrs Howell? Loved by all. Mrs Howell, her name was really Lovie, was reserved, professional and never out of reach of her flask of vodka. It was speculated she consumed about a fifth a day, but she never flubbed a line or caused a delay. Mr Howell, Jim Backus, was the quintessential dirty old man, turning every phrase into a sticky mess of innuendo. Hmm, sounds like someone I know…

But the ultimate question: Who was hotter, Ginger or Mary Ann? Long before I’d read any of the behind the scenes stuff, I preferred Mary Ann. Ginger was high maintenance, and would throw herself at anyone who could advance her position on the island. (Like a prehistoric Omarosa?) She would turn on you in an instant, and the only thing she could cook was fish cake. You know, a cake with a whole fish poking out both ends.

Mary Ann was different. Quiet but strong. Hotter than a pistol in those short shorts. And she made a mean coconut pie. I mean, it must have been good if Gilligan would shove his face into the pie instead of pushing Mary Ann into a cave and creating a bunch of little castaways.

When I was in juvenile delinquent film school, I wrote a pornographic screenplay based on Gilligan’s Island. It followed the usual assumptions. Skipper and Gilligan were more than roommates. Ginger would take it from anyone. Mary Ann was frustrated by Gilligan’s sexual preference, and resorted to the jungle to find her outlet. The Howells were dyed-in-the-wool bondage freaks, and next to that chest full of money was a chest full of whips, ties and ball gags. Lovie was the dom.

The Professor got with them all. Under the pretext of scientific experiments, he would test banana condoms or coconut diaphragms on the various castaways. If he could make a pedal car out of bamboo, just think what he could do to cure those pesky island STDs…

And now, Mary Ann is in the news again. At age 69, she’s leading a quiet life, doing appearances and working with charities. The other day she was caught driving with a bit of substance that probably grew plentiful on that uncharted island. I’d heard the stories for years. Bob Denver was a lifelong stoner. (The origin of the nickname ‘Little Buddy’?) He apparently had trouble scoring, because he was arrested for trying to obtain pot via the mail. The rumor (?) was that it had been sent to him by Dawn Wells, AKA Mary Ann. Somehow I think she’d be smarter. Must check Snopes later…

Learning of Mary Ann’s proclivities for mind-altering substances has made my decision an easy one. Sorry Ginger. Actually not. I’ve been wary of her since puberty. Despite Mary Ann’s smoking habits, or maybe because of, I have chosen her as the one I’d most like to get stuck on a desert isle with.

Unless maybe Adrienne Barbeau is available…

Nah. I’ll stick with Mary Ann. I know what she looks like after three years on a deserted island.

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