Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Skipper Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel

Alan Hale, the actor who played Skipper Jonas Grumby on Gilligan’s Island once had his own restaurant in Hollywood.

There are few things in life I could imagine that would be as good as having a lobster with the Skipper.

Perhaps shaving with Abe Lincoln or splitting a box of Ho Ho’s with John Travolta would measure up to the magnitude of eating with Skipper, but I doubt it (unless Abe lets you wear his hat, then all bets are off.)

Alan Hale was the son of a very successful movie actor also named Alan Hale. The elder Hale was born Rufus Edward MacKahan when he entered the movie business he went by the name Alan Hale. When his son was born he named him Alan Hale MacKahan.
The younger Hale then followed in his fathers footsteps under the name Alan Hale Jr. After his father passed away he dropped the “Jr.”

TRIVIA: Dropping the “Jr.” is street slang drinking a small bottle of liquor concealed in a sandwich.

Alan Hale was not the first choice to play the Skipper. Carol O’Conner was the first choice for series creator Sherwood Schwartz. According to Schwartz, O’Conner and many others were not right for the part because they lacked warmth that Hale exhibited. During Hale’s screen test Schwartz said he believed that Skipper would get mad at Gilligan, he would hit him with his hat BUT never hurt him.

This was important, because if the Skipper killed Gilligan they would probably have a better shot at getting rescued, thus ending the show early.

Speaking of which, it is important to note that Gilligan’s Island was not a huge success during its initial run. The show only lasted three seasons and was a moderate success in the television ratings finishing in 18th for the 1964 season, 22 for the next season and dropping out of the top twenty on it’s final season.

The show however prospered in reruns and is probably on TV right now as you read this.

The cast became world famous from the show (and its 3 follow up TV movies) but they did not receive any residuals from the syndicated re-airings of the programs. This left the cast a need to supplement their income with new jobs.

Unfortunately for most of them were somewhat typecast by the show (notable exception: Jim “Mr. Howell” Backus) making future acting jobs harder to come by.

Being typecast is an interesting scenario. It means that the public has become so enamored with a role that you played that they can not see you playing another part. It is at once a compliment and an insult. To put it simply “typecast” is the McDLT (and yes, it keeps the hot side hot and the cold side cold.)

Hale seemed to embrace the typecasting and loved being recognized every where he went.

This led him to the Lobster Barrel. The restaurant was located smack dab in the middle of the tourist area of Hollywood. Skipper Alan Hale’s lobster barrel offered patrons steak and seafood served by tuxedo-clad waiters for moderate prices. It was only open for dinner (5pm to 10:30pm, 1am on the weekends.

But the big attraction was Hale himself who made the rounds at the eatery to the delight of the customers. At the restaurant (and most other places) he would wear his signature captain’s hat.

Eventually, the Lobster Barrel closed its doors and Hale started a new business venture, a travel company. I am sure the “three hour tour” jokes eventually turned the receptionist into a raging alcoholic.

Alan Hale died in early 1992 and his ashes were scattered at sea. I am sure Skipper Jonas Grumby would have wanted it that way.

Today a restaurant called The Spanish Kitchen occupies the address once held by the Lobster Barrel. The food is good, the atmosphere is great, but there is no Skipper to greet you.

It’s enough to make you wanna drop the “Jr.”

UPDATE:
I just bought a GREAT new item on eBay. This is a matchbook from the Skipper's restaurant. Not sure what to do with it, though. Maybe I should light the matches one by one and smell what it would have smelled like in the Lobster Barrel (assuming some jerk was standing next to you lighting matches.)
Either way, I am jazzed to the max at this new find. Seems odd someone would save a pack of matches for a few decades only to sell them on eBay for a sum of money so small I could have barely used it for a dollar store shopping spree. I think I will play with them later (I never listened to the 'don't play with matches rule.')

19 comments:

  1. Anonymous1/26/2005

    I can't eat lobster. And I've never seen Gilligan's Island. So I really have nothing worthwhile to contribute. 

    Posted by Nettie

    ReplyDelete
  2. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Good lord, Nettie!
    How have you gone through life without watching Gilligan's Island? I figured this would be the one show that everyone has seen! 

    Posted by Sweetie Guy Hutchinson

    ReplyDelete
  3. Anonymous1/26/2005

    I've been there on a trip to Hollywood. It's next to Alan Ladd Jr.'s taco stand and Alan Young Jr's House of Pancackes. It's actually in Hollywood's Alan District. Although it's pretty run down now. 

    Posted by Mr. Freeze

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  4. Anonymous1/26/2005

    What is the Professor's name. Does he have his own restaurant too? Did you know he invented the frisbee? 

    Posted by T-_Bone

    ReplyDelete
  5. Anonymous1/26/2005

    T-Bone,

    Fascinating facts about the invention
    of the Frisbee by Walter Frederick Morrison in 1950. FRISBEE

    A baker named William Russel Frisbie, of Warren, Connecticut, and later of Bridgeport, came up with a clever marketing idea back in the 1870s. He put the family name in relief on the bottom of the light tin pans in which his company’s homemade pies were sold. The pans were reusable, but every time a housewife started to bake a pie in one, she would see the name Frisbie and, it was hoped, think, "How much easier to buy one". Eventually Mr. Frisbie’s pies were sold throughout much of Connecticut, including New Haven.
    There, sometime in the 1940s, Yale students began sailing the pie tins through the air and catching them. A decade later, out in California, a flying-saucer enthusiast named Walter Frederick Morrison designed a saucer-like disk for playing catch. It was produced by a company named Wham-O. On a promotional tour of college campuses, the president of Wham-O encountered the pie-plate-tossing craze at Yale. And so the flying saucer from California was renamed after the pie plate from Connecticut. Of course the name was changed from Frisbie to Frisbee to avoid any legal problems.
     

    Posted by Dr. Candy Santa Esq. and Sons

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  6. Anonymous1/26/2005

    I always liked the Skipper, he reminded me of Santa. 

    Posted by Jenni21

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  7. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Three movies! I guess that includes the one with the Harlem Globetrotters. 

    Posted by The Taco Kid

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  8. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Finally more Gilligan's Island! I suggest you do all 7 castaways! 

    Posted by ...BANE

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Sweetie,
    Have you seen the Gilligan's Island ALF episode? I think you would love it! 

    Posted by Staplegun

    ReplyDelete
  10. Anonymous1/26/2005

    "Somewhere over the Rerun" my favorite ALF episode! 

    Posted by Sweetie Guy Hutchinson

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  11. Anonymous1/26/2005

    I went to this restuarant once and all these people kept taking my picture. I thought it was because I looked like the Skipper, but maybe it was just because I was naked. 

    Posted by Guy Who Looks Like The Skipper

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  12. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Yo! Just sit right back and you hear a tale
    one about a boat
    but I ain't watching Gilligan
    I'm watching Murder She Wrote

    Peace out, yo. 

    Posted by Sucker MC

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous1/26/2005

    Interesting. I wonder if any celebrities do this kind of stuff today? 

    Posted by Miss Sarah

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  14. Anonymous1/28/2005

    I lead a very sheltered life. And I watch so much TV I can't keep track of it all. 

    Posted by Nettie

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  15. Anonymous1/28/2005

    But I did see the ALF episode! 

    Posted by Nettie

    ReplyDelete
  16. Anonymous2/09/2005

    I went to Alan Hale's Lobster Barrel back in the early 80's (late 70's? Been a while). It was just like you said, moderate prices and Alan Hale went and greeted each table. Except for ours because one of my dumb friends (who had drank too much) had called out "Hey Skipper, where's Gilligan?" 

    Posted by Amigo

    ReplyDelete