February 25, 1913 – July 3, 1989
Alan Hale Jr.
March 8, 1921 – January 2, 1990
November 5, 1900 – April 10, 1991
January 9, 1935 – September 2, 2005
Just sit Right Back and you’ll hear a tale…
The Castaways graced our television screens PRIME TIME for a total of three (1964-1967) seasons, but they were forced to live with the identities of their characters for the rest of their lives. Great for us, but must be miserable for them. Can you imagine how Tina Louise will react when someone on the street says, “Hey Ginger!”? Shoes would fly, I’m sure.
So, four of the seven stranded castaways are no longer with us, aka gone to that rescue ship in the sky.
The first to go was our favorite millionaire, Thurston Howell III. Jim Backus lived with his wife Henny, on Bellagio Road.
Their house was at number 10914.
Have any of you seen the film Don’t Make Waves, with Tony Curtis and Sharon Tate? Jim and Henny make a great appearance in it, as prospective pool purchasers. Jim and Henny’s house was just down the street from Alfred Hitchcock‘s, in lovely Bel-Air. Backus was suffering from Parkinson’s for quite some time, and on June 13th, 1989, he was admitted to St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica because he had contracted pneumonia.
He died of complications from the disease on Monday, July 3rd. He was 76. Henny died in early 2005.
He is buried in Westwood Memorial Park.
The next to go was our beloved Skipper, Alan Hale Jr. Alan and his wife, whom he called, “Trinket,” lived on Orange Grove, in Hollywood.
Their house was number 1418.
He was such a nice guy, never shunning a fan, and always letting rip with that huge laugh of his. He was diagnosed with cancer of the thymus in early 1989. He went through treatment, and thought he had beaten it, but five months later it reappeared in his stomach, and lungs. Even while sick, Alan still kept an upbeat attitude. One of his favorite things to do was visit sick children in the hospital.
Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan’s Island told the story of one such occasion:
“There was a boy of about 10 who’d just had a kidney removed. Alan debated whether he should see the boy. Just then the doctor came along and said, ‘Go ahead, he’s waking up.’ Alan went in and the boy looked up in disbelief and said, ‘Skipper?’ Alan said, ‘That’s right son. The Skipper is here and everything is going to be all right.’ Gawd, bring on the Kleenex.
Shortly before his death, he was admitted to St. Vincent’s Medical Center, in Los Angeles.
He knew he was dying, but instead of talking about it, he just remarked what a beautiful day it was. He said he wanted “to stay here until the sun goes down.” His wife sat holding his hand, and she, Alan and a priest prayed. Then, just as the sun went down, Alan drew his last breath. It was Tuesday, January 2nd, 1990. He was 71 years old.
The Skipper was cremated, and on January 6th, his ashes (for the first time, I can say appropriately) were scattered at sea.
I wrote a note of sympathy to Mrs. Hale, and this is what I received from her.
Sweet and thoughtful.
Alan owned a restaurant here in LA called Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel.
Thanks Nancy for the ad!
Natalie Schaefer played Mrs. Howell. Interestingly, she was already postmenopausal, and just as posh, when Gilligan’s Island hit the air in 1964! And don’t ask me about Natalie and the Planter’s Cheese Balls. Fantastically gory story, but too damn gross. I don’t know much about her disease, but I do know that some time during her later years, she had a double mastectomy. She lived on Rodeo Drive, in Beverly Hills. Her house was at number 514.
It was in this house that Lovey died, on Wednesday, April 10th, 1991. Cancer. She was 90 years old. NINETY! She must have left a butt load of money to the Motion Picture Country Home and Hospital, because there is now a Natalie Schaefer wing.
Like the Skipper, she was cremated and scattered at sea.
Unfortunately, in February of 2005 Natalie’s house on Rodeo Drive has bit the big one. I have rescued a few tiny pieces, that one day will grace a Findadeath museum. Rest in Pieces.
I hate developers.
Update Jan 2000: Findadeath.com friend Kenny Hom sent me a fantastic interview with Natalie and her friends. It goes into detail about what a great, funny lady she was. It also tells us that Natalie had been diagnosed with severe liver cancer, and died in her sleep. None of her friends knew how old Natalie was, and two weeks before she died, she told friends (she had no immediate family) that she wanted her obituaries to read that she was 90 years old. Smug that she had fooled so many, for so long. Her last words to anyone were, “I’m gonna take a pain pill.”
There was a memorial cocktail party held at Natalie’s house. About 30 of her friends gathered and laughed.
September 2000: Findadeath.com friend Jon C. Darby sends this in:
You mentioned that Natalie Schaefer endowed a wing at the Motion Picture home. Are you familiar with the odd story of her estate? She left more than $3 million to her favorite teacup poodle, which caused quite a bit of legal maneuvering among her nieces and nephews. The will was solid, however, so there was a poodle with a bank account to match its attitude until the funds rolled over to the Motion Picture home upon her (the poodle’s) death.
I believe she also left a good bit to Dawn “Mary Ann” Wells (official supplier of Denver weed), who lived with her through her final illness. Dawn Wells has earned most of her post-Gilligan money from Wishing-Wells, a clothing company she owns for invalids. (Perhaps Natalie modeled for her in the final days (She did! – S) and from an odd wigwam acting camp in Idaho.
Most of Ms. Schaefer’s fortune came from investments in the golden era of Hollywood. Her first husband, Louis Calherne, was a contract player at a time when valley real estate was still attainable. The house on Rodeo Drive was purchased for $50,000 in the Forties, and worth millions by the time of her death.
These guys, for a lot of us, were our best friends when we were growing up. We loved spending time with them, and they never judged us. Heaven.
In May of 1991, just after Natalie died, Sherwood Schwartz took out this ad in the Hollywood reporter. I couldn’t have said it better.
On Friday September 2, 2005, we lost Gilligan himself, Bob Denver. He died of pneumonia, but he had cancer of the larynx. He had a history of tobacco (wacky and otherwise) use.
He was hospitalized in the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, in Winston Salem.
Bob was cremated, and his ashes were given to his family. RIP.
This page is dedicated to my good friend and fellow Honeybee, Bun.
We got the rare opportunity to meet with the Castaways back in 1988.
It was monumental.
Regarding Tina Louise:
A Findadeath friend (who wishes to remain anonymous) volunteered these tasty pieces of gossip:
“I once heard a story about Tina’s daughter. I had a friend who went to some New York school, the same one as Tina’s daughter. He said you can tell she’s “snooty and bitchy” just by looking at her. Anyway, one time in the cafeteria, she sat in a chair blocking the aisle way for people to walk by. My friend’s friend asked to her excuse him, but she didn’t budge. So the friend took his tray of food and dumped it on her.”
Also: “There are some very interesting news on our gossip columns. People say Tina is accepting money from men for a night of escorting.”
New, March 2001: this tidbit sent by Findadeath.com friend Stuart Cohen:
I can’t promise it’s true, as I heard it from a friend of a friend who was there; it’s almost an urban legend now. Around 4 years ago when the movie To Wong Foo, Love, Julie Newmar had come out, Miss Louise went to the Tribeca, NYC restaurant called Odeon and demanded a table right away. She allegedly said, “I’m Tina Louise” in a very bitchy/snooty way. A waitress that was walking by at the same time heard her, and replied, “Maybe so, but you are no Julie Newmar.”
Could you die? Speaking of, sorry to get side tracked. On to the subject at hand:
Thanks to Findadeath friend Kenny Hom sent me a great video tape of a very defensive Tina Louise being interviewed about her escapades on the set. Good stuff. Thank you Kenny.
Visit gilligansisle.com for more info.