Have you ever heard the original calypso theme song to 'Gilligan's Island'?
The jaunty tune was written by legendary 'Star Wars' composer John Williams.
Image: AP Photo / Wally Fong
The familiar theme song from Gilligan's Island is a brilliant earworm. The infectious sing-along not only stays in your head for a three-hour tour, it neatly sums up the entire narrative of the sitcom. You get the backstory and dramatis personae of the show in about a minute. Creator Sherwood Schwartz and orchestra leader George Wyle wrote "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle," and the folk-rock act the Wellingtons originally performed it. In later seasons, it turned into even more of a sea shanty.
What would Gilligan's Island be without that catchy tune?
Well, we have an answer for that. The pilot episode featured a completely different theme song. And it was written by none other than John Williams, arguably the most successful composer in Hollywood history.
However, decades ago, long before Williams was a Spielberg staple, he was jazz pianist "Little Johnny Love" Williams. He played in Henry Mancini's band and worked on the eternally cool Peter Gunn theme. In the 1960s, he was a go-to composer for visionary producer Irwin Allen.
However, for Sherwood Schwartz's new comedy, "Johnny" Williams would pen a breezy calypso tune complete with flute and maracas. Schwartz himself performed the song, aping the singing style of Sir Lancelot, the Trinidadian musician who popularized calypso in the United States in the 1940s.
The first draft of the lyrics reveals significant differences between the pilot and final product. For starters, Mary Ann and Ginger are merely referred to as "two secretaries." The Professor is a "high-school teacher," and all of the gang are heading out on a "six-hour ride," not a three-hour tour. Why was the voyage cut in half? It remains a mystery.
Check out the lyrics:
In tropical sea is a tropic port
Vacation fun is the favorite sport
This is the place where the tourists flock
Renting the boats at the busy dock
Two secretaries from U.S.A.
Sail on the Minnow this lovely day
A high-school teacher is next aboard
All taking trip that they cannot afford
The next two people are millionaires
They've got no worries, they got no cares
They climb aboard and they step inside
With just enough bags for a six-hour ride
Tourists come, tourists go
Tourists touring to and fro
These five nice tourists they take this trip
Relaxing on deck on this little ship
The weather is clear and the sun is hot
…the weather is clear? …I think it is not!
Tourists come, tourists go
Tourists tossing to and fro
The captain is brave, he's…
Car-r-r-ramba! What a storm!
The captain is brave, he's a fearless man
And Gilligan helps him all that he can
The wheel, she break and lose all control
S.S. Minnow do the rock'n'roll
The sea is now calm and the weather grand
Where is the Minnow upon this sand?
What happen now will bring you a smile
The adventures of Gilligan…
And the Skipper…
And the Millionaire…
And Mrs. Millionaire…
And the other tourists on Gilligan's Isle!
The whole tune takes a couple minutes, which would have eaten a little more into the episode time. Beyond that, it sounds far more forced and phony. They made the right choice to go another direction. After all, John Williams seemed to land on his feet and do alright for himself with Star Wars.
Take a listen and watch the original opening.