“Who?” you may be asking. And well you may be!
(Brave And Sure)
The Skipper is the title and nickname of Jonas Grumby, a fictional character from the 1960s situation comedy ‘Gilligan's Island’. Played by Alan Hale Jr., the Skipper (the character's actual name was rarely mentioned after the show's pilot episode) was the owner and captain of the S. S. Minnow on its "three-hour tour" in Hawaii when he, the first mate Gilligan (portrayed by Bob Denver), and their tourist passengers were caught in a violent storm and stranded on a deserted island.
He acts often in his legal role as the group's leader, albeit with a decidedly collegial and democratic bent; the only individual whom he routinely orders about is Gilligan. In times of crisis, the Skipper tends to defer to the more level-headed and educated passenger, Professor Roy Hinkley (portrayed by Russell Johnson). He is sort of a strongman succumbed to lack of exercise, despite doing most of the physical work on the island or making Gilligan do it. He is also the most superstitious castaway, sometimes putting him in conflict with the Professor's rationalism.
The Skipper is lovable but is irritated continually by the clumsiness and ineptitude of his "little buddy" Gilligan, despite that they are good friends. A running gag is that whenever Gilligan messes up a rescue, the skipper conks Gilligan on the head with his hat; a variation of this gag is that whenever Gilligan is in a tree as a lookout and falls down, he usually lands on the Skipper, or if Gilligan (on rare occasion) does something right or correctly predicts an outcome, the Skipper is about to conk Gilligan, then restrains himself due to the fact Gilligan was right. The dynamic of their relationship, at times, resembles that of Laurel and Hardy.
Before the producers hired Alan Hale Jr., Carroll O'Connor had been considered for the role of the Skipper, but was rejected because he was too unsympathetic.
In the 2003 book “Gilligan's Wake”, Esquire film and television critic Tom Carson writes a backstory that the Skipper served with John F. Kennedy of the PT-109 and Quinton McHale of ‘McHale's Navy’. The book was acclaimed critically, drawing comparisons to the works of Thomas Pynchon.
John F. Kennedy was also skipper of his boat, and the 1964 ‘Gilligan's Island’ would follow the 1961 pilot episode of ‘McHale's Navy’, the 1962 series, and the 1963 movie “PT 109” as films about PT-sized boats that were shipwrecked with Navy sailors on board. Little was ever learned about his past, but in several episodes, he mentions variously having several ships blown out from under him, and his veteran's status, implying that he'd served in World War II.
Two episodes indicate the Skipper was a veteran of the Battle of Guadalcanal as he relived an experience from the battle where he turned the radio into a transmitter, reliving the scenario in his sleep. In one episode he gets amnesia, and thinks he's on a covert mission behind enemy lines, mistaking the others to be Japanese soldiers, including Ginger, whom he mistakenly believes to be a ventriloquist.
He claims to be the CO of the 177th Infantry Regiment, which is a U.S. Army regiment, but whether that actually happened or was just a wish-fulfilling fantasy is open to debate, for later on in the series he says that he was simply a cook. In one episode he claimed to have been a Navy Bandmaster and in another he claims to have been the best poker player in the US Navy.
I don’t count those discrepancies as Zonks. Skipper was just telling tall tales, yarns like any sailing man would.
Captain Grumby was a multidimensional in that he also has a presence in the Tooniverse and in Toobworld Toobworld, the dimension of remakes.
Here are the shows which qualify the Skipper to finally join his ‘Little Buddy” Gilligan who was inducted in the Hall’s sophomore year as the first official April Fool inductee.
Jonas 'The Skipper' Grumby
Rescue from Gilligan's Island
(1978 TV Movie)
(1979 TV Movie)
(1981 TV Movie)
Crazy Like a Fox
- Just Another Fox in the Crowd (1986)
From the IMDb:
Harrison finds a photo from the 1961 All-Star Game with Harry in the background and gives it to him for his birthday. However, when Harry sees it, he claims he never went to the game. So, he and Harrison go to see the photographer who took it, who tells them the photo is authentic. However, after they leave someone pulls a gun on them demanding the photo.
Unfortunately, the name of Hale’s character in this episode is not listed at the IMDb. I’m going to assume he was one of the guys in the picture with Harry. Or maybe the guy in the photo shop. At any rate, this will remain here as a placeholder until I can find out the details, one way or t'other.
There are only three ways this fellow could be disqualified from being conflated with the Skipper:
1] His character’s name is revealed.
If he is only identified by a nickname, I think it could still be the Skipper. Splainin: People get different nicknames from the various aspects of their lives. A nickname in college, a nickname from co-workers, nicknames from the exes. (No need to share those here….)
2] His character is the bad guy.
People change. But there are certain characters I refuse to believe would ever become evil. The Skipper falls into that category.
3] His character dies.
All characters eventually die. I know the Skipper is dead there in Toobworld now. But not in 1980. Too soon. Besides, I have other theories of conflation to go.
Simon & Simon
- Rough Rider Rides Again (1982)
Bartending has always been a great way for people to pick up a little extra gilt. The Skipper may have needed the money once that ridiculous resort idea crashed due to some unscrupulous financier, a roman a clef televersion of Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken. (Harold Hecuba’s identical cousin Shifty Shaefer, perhaps?)
- Somewhere Over the Rerun (1987)
ALF dreams being on ‘Gilligan's Island’.
ALF has taken a liking to watching ‘Gilligan's Island’ (1964). He dresses accordingly and has coconut drinks. He's bored at the Tanners' house and takes things one step too far towards ‘Gilligan's Island’ (1964)
There is no Zonk! here. The fate of the people on board the SS Minnow would have made the news and eventually would have led to a TV show about what might have happened to them. Sure, it would have been cruel to turn it into a farce, but that’s show business.
- This Is Your Life (1987)
... The Cabbie
When Ben is in the taxi, he comments on how much the driver looks like the Skipper on ‘Gilligan's Island’, and notices that the license has the name J. Grumby on it. The cab driver was played by Alan Hale Jr. who played the Skipper, and his character's real name - which was mentioned only in the pilot episode - was Jonas Grumby.
The Seaver family lived in Long Island. But who knows what might have happened in the five years since the Skipper was last seen tending bar in California?
Before we get to the Skippers from alternate Toobworlds, I’d like to hang around Earth Prime-Time a little while longer and delve into the Grumby family tree for a few theories of relateeveety.
McMillan & Wife
- The Fine Art of Staying Alive (1973)
... The Port Captain
At this point in the Toobworld timeline, the Skipper was still marooned on the island. It’s a shame, because a job like this would have been perfect for Jonas Grumby getting back into the swing of things. I imagine there were plenty of crossoverists who saw this episode before the first TV reunion movie came out who might have thought it was the perfect example of conflation.
- The Ogg and I (1967)
Alan Hale, Jr. plays the owner/chef of the restaurant Chief O'Hara goes to for lunch. The character's name is 'Gilligan.' Alan Hale, Jr. is best known as The Skipper from "Gilligan's Island," with first mate named Gilligan (played by Bob Denver).
Not only do I think this Gilligan is an “identical cousin” to the Skipper, but I’m going to go all in on the claim that this Gilligan is also related to that Gilligan.
That common ancestor to all three lookalikes either had two or three children who carried that particular DNA combination onwards, or he took the more direct route and dallied with three women himself to spread his seed, making him the father to the Skipper, the Port Captain, and the Bartender.
But if we went with that first option, the common ancestor could go back a few generations, perhaps back to a Toobworldling from the Old West….
The Wild, Wild West
- The Night of the Sabatini Death (1969)
... Ned Brown
Ned Brown was a Secret Service agent who spent most of his career behind a desk in Washington and was finally able to get a chance in the field working with Agent James T. West. When it was over, having sated his desire to see action, Ned planned to take a vacation. His dream was to travel to a deserted island in the South Pacific. (Unbeknownst to either Ned or Jim, a snippet of the ‘Gilligan’s Island’ theme began playing at that moment.)
So I’m thinking Ned Brown was the great-grandfather to Jonas Grumby, the San Francisco Port Captain, and the Publican.
But one of his sons or grandsons might have had an affair with Mrs. Gilligan of Gotham City and “donated” a cousin to Willy Gilligan. (Not that Gilligan ever mentioned this fact to his boss on that pleasure boat. But surely he had to have noticed the resemblance between the Skipper and his cousin.)
The Fates are strong in Toobworld. It could be that this desire by Ned Brown to visit a deserted isle was later forced upon his grandson Jonas Grumby.
As I stated earlier, the Skipper had a presence in alternate Toobworlds, making him multidimensional….
[The Land O’ Remakes]
The New Gidget
- Gilligidge Island (1987)
... Captain Hale
I have no other information on this episode other than Bob Denver also guest starred as Gilligan. It could be that this was similar to the appearance in ‘ALF’ – a dream sequence. If so, that would go far in splainin why his last name was ‘Hale’ and not Grumby. Dreams always jumble things up.
The New Adventures of Gilligan
This is basically a continuation of the adventures from the live-action TV show. I see no reason to think that there was a cartoon version of all of the original series episodes. I can’t say whether or not the cartoon stories happened to the live-action castaways, however; there could have been storylines even too weird for what happened to them in real life. (Full disclosure, I’ve never seen it.)
The only difference was that Ginger Grant had white hair. I see no Zonk! in that. They were always tripping over weird plants, irradiated meteors, and other items which altered them in some way. So, this is what happened to Ginger’s tooniversion.
The same passengers that got shipwrecked in the tv series get space-ship-wrecked on distant planet.
As this is considered one of the worst TV shows ever produced (according to the IMDb), and with me not knowing anything about it, I thought I might be able to at least come up with a cool idea to make it interesting to die-hard televisiologists.
Originally I thought it had to be set in the far Future to have them be castaways on an alien planet. I could have worked with that, calling upon the ‘Futurama’ episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before” as inspiration.
The cloned heads of the stars of ‘Star Trek’ were grafted to robotic bodies and that could have been what happened to the original castaways a thousand years after they all died and before they went off on their tour. (A three light year tour?)
But now I know better. The Professor built an actual rocket on that island and they blasted off, eventually landing on that planet.
“Forget it, Jake. It’s the Tooniverse.”
Yeah. The Tooniverse is not my bailiwick; I’m the curator for Earth Prime-Time and as far as that is concerned, I think I’ve made the case for how much of the main Toobworld can be connected by Jonas Grumby.
There's one other incarnation of Jonas Grumby which we have to consider - that of the Skipper as seen in the original pilot of 'Gilligan's Island'.
- Marooned (1963/1997)
From the IMDb:The pilot episode that tells the tale of a tiny ship which set off on a three-hour tour but got caught in a storm and beached on an island. The pilot was filmed in November 1963, and not aired until almost 30 years later.
- John Gabriel - The Professor
- Kit Smythe - Ginger
- Nancy McCarthy - Bunny
So I have an alternate Toobworld for pilot episodes which would go on to have cast changes before the first actual episode. This dimension also contains failed pilots. Might as well fill up that Toobworld, you know?
I just need a good name for it....
Here's to you, Skipper. Welcome to the Hall!