Sherwood Schwartz dies at 94; 'Gilligan's Island' and 'Brady Bunch' creator
Comedy writer and producer Sherwood Schwartz also wrote the memorable theme song lyrics for the wacky tale of a shipwrecked 'three-hour tour' and the story of the marriage between a 'lovely lady' with three daughters and 'a man named Brady' with three sons.
"Gilligan's Island" creator Sherwood Schwartz, center wearing a tie, with director Jack Arnold and the cast of the television show. (Ken Howard)
Schwartz, who began his more than six-decade career by writing gags for Bob Hope's radio show in 1939, died of natural causes at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said his son Lloyd.
Schwartz once said he created "Gilligan's Island," which aired on CBS from 1964 to 1967, as an escape from his seven years on "The Red Skelton Show," for which he served as head writer and won an Emmy in 1961.
There was nothing quite as escapist as the wacky tale of seven people on a small charter boat, the SS Minnow, who set out on a "three-hour tour" and wound up shipwrecked on an uncharted South Pacific Island.
Starring Bob Denver in the title role of the boat's bumbling crew member, "Gilligan's Island" famously featured the exasperated skipper (Alan Hale Jr.), the millionaire and his wife (Jim Backus and Natalie Schafer), the professor (Russell Johnson), the naïve country girl (Dawn Wells) and the sexy movie star (Tina Louise).
Schwartz also wrote the lyrics for the show's memorable theme song:
"Sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a fateful trip.
It started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship.
The mate was a mighty sailing man,
The skipper brave and sure,
Five passengers set sail that day
For a three-hour tour."
Critics had a field day lambasting Schwartz's shipwreck saga when it debuted.
"It is impossible that a more inept, moronic or humorless show has ever appeared on the home tube," wrote UPI's Rick DuBrow.
"It is difficult for me to believe that 'Gilligan's Island' was written, directed and filmed by adults," wrote Terrence O'Flaherty of the San Francisco Chronicle.
It is "quite possibly the most preposterous situation comedy of the season," wrote Jack Gould of the New York Times.
But the show's very preposterousness struck a chord with millions of viewers.
For all its crude sight gags, low-brow humor and pratfalls, Schwartz viewed "Gilligan's Island" as something more: It is, he proclaimed, "my version of a social microcosm, where seven people from various backgrounds had to learn to live together."