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Gilligan’s Island Was Forced To Censor Mary Ann & Ginger

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Among the menagerie of stranded civilians on “Gilligan’s Island” were Hollywood starlet Ginger Grant (Tina Louise) and small-town farm gal Mary Ann Summers (Dawn Wells). Both women were prone to wearing skimpy getups suitable for a tropical isle in the Pacific; that they had also had the foresight to bring along multiple outfits for what was intended to be a three-hour boat tour is one of the many great mysteries academics have spent endless hours contemplating since the show wrapped its three-season run in 1967.

Unfortunately, this set off all manner of alarm bells for NBC’s censors. As Schwartz recalled:

“[On ‘Gilligan’s Island,’] I came home one day after I’d been having trouble with the censors over Dawn and Tina. They were worried about Tina’s cleavage and Dawn’s navel because in those days you couldn’t show a navel. My wife asked me what was wrong, and I said, ‘Between Tina’s tits and Mary Ann’s navel, I can’t get a minute of peace!'”

In time, Schwartz and his team came up with a workaround. Louise mastered the art of subtly covering her stomach when the camera was on her, whereas Wells matched her tops with a pair of short-shorts that came up just high enough to prevent her belly button from poking its little head out and causing a riot. (This was identical to what “I Dream of Jeannie” did, fitting Eden with a pair of high-waisted pink harem pants.) 

As for Louise’s bosom, that one necessitated a combination of careful camera angles and trying to avoid dressing her in an excess of two-pieces or tops with plunging v-necks. It sure was lucky that Ginger thought to pack all those extra clothes ahead of time, even if did seem extraneous in the moment.



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