As a kid, a lot of things struck me as odd about the '60s TV series, Gilligan's Island. For starters, why didn't the Professor and Ginger ever do it? Why didn't Gilligan and Mary Ann ever do it? And why didn't the Skipper lose any weight in the three years he was on that “uncharted desert isle?” (Also, was it a desert isle? It looked more tropical isle to me.)
“Gilligan's Island” has more loopholes than “Lost.”
Not least of these peculiarities was the fact that Mary Ann Summers, a farm girl from Kansas, was on the same chartered cruise ship in Hawaii as a movie star, a millionaire and his wife. Now, I've only met a few actresses and millionaires in my time, and I can't imagine any of them slumming with the hoi polloi.
Sure, the writers said Mary Ann “won the trip” but, if the SS Minnow tour was fancy enough to qualify as a lottery prize, why was the Professor on it? Teachers don't make “luxury cruise” kind of money. Either the Howells' travel agent was being passive-aggressive by booking a third-rate boat tour. Or the Howells weren't as rich as they pretended to be.
Did incompetence doom the SS Minnow?
With regard to the storm, the show writer said only that the weather started “getting rough.” But the year of the show's first season, 1964, was the least active hurricane season in the Pacific since the '50s!
Besides, surely “rough seas” are something a “mighty sailing man” and a skipper who's “brave and sure” could've easily handled. No, clearly something else—or someone else—scuttled that tiny ship on purpose.
What do we really know about the Howells?
Despite their constant claims of wealth and privilege, the Howell name has never once been listed among the richest Americans. In fact, Harvard University disavows any knowledge of anyone named Howell—if that is his real name. So Thurston Howell's entire life story, it seems, was a fiction.
Yet, the Howells somehow managed to bring trunks of unnecessary clothes and US$500,000 onboard the SS Minnow—in cash, no less. Why would anyone—even alleged millionaires—need that much clothing and money for a three-hour cruise? Put simply, they wouldn't. The money was clearly stolen, and the boat was part of their plan to escape justice.
The best laid plans of mice and millionaires.
I believe that, after committing one or more lucrative white-collar crimes or perhaps robbing a Las Vegas casino, the Howells needed to disappear. I submit to you that Thurston Howell never intended to return from that boat tour. That he intended to fake both his and his wife's death that day. Taking with them, the movie star, the professor, AND Mary Ann.
By sabotaging the SS Minnow, the Howells hoped to escape on their trunks to a nearby Hawaiian Island. There, they'd lie low for a while. The Howells eventually hoped to be presumed “lost at sea” and pronounced dead. Then they'd be free to live happily ever after with their five-million dollars (inflation adjusted).
The SS Minnow would've sunk if it weren't for those meddling kids.
Instead, the Howells spent the rest of their lives on an uncharted desert isle with no phones, no lights, no motor cars. Not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe, it was an extremely primitive existence.
The Howells were rescued briefly in 1978, but fearing prosecution, returned to the island to hide out. Officially, Thurston died in 1989 and Lovey, shortly after, in 1991. Yet neither body was ever recovered.