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.”
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.')