Sherwood, Betty and Rob

The great thing about Sherwood Schwartz, who died earlier this month, is not just that he created two popular TV shows. He also wrote, or co-wrote, their iconic themes.

I never, not once, did I see The Brady Bunch, during its initial run. But I knew exactly what it was about, just by watching the theme. It was the story about two widowed people, each with three kids, each the same gender as the parent, who, along with the housekeeper, became a blended family.

The theme to Gilligan’s Island, a show I admit to watching in my callow youth, also let us know the entire plot, though it changed somewhat from the first season to subsequent ones.

The show was namechecked several times by Weird Al Yankovic and others. From Al’s Couch Potato, “…And there’s “Gilligan” and “SpongeBob”, plus there’s “MacGyver”…” Stop Draggin’ My Car Around, a takeoff of the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers song, also namechecks the show.

But Isle Thing, a parody of Tone Loc’s Wild Thing, is all about “watchin’ that Gilligan’s Isle thing”. And Amish Paradise, a parody of Coolio’s Gangsta Paradise, which in turn was a remake of Stevie Wonder’s Pastime Paradise, appropriates a whole section of the closing theme:
No phone, no lights, no motor cars,
not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
it’s primitive as can be.

In live shows and on radio shows, Weird Al has been known to do other Gilligan takeoffs.

Others have taken different music and attached it to the theme, none more notably than Little Roger and the Goosebumps merging the lyrics to the music of Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin to create Stairway to Gilligan’s Island.

I always thought that Betty Ford, te former dancer Betty Bloomer, was cool. She dealt with her private difficulties, from her breast cancer surgery to her pain medication addiction, in a very public way, helping countless people, women and men. Not mention her forthright comments about equal rights, sexuality and abortion, not always in lockstep with her husband, even when he was President.
The long-time lead singer for The Grass Roots named Rob Grill died this month. Reportedly he was listening to a recording of Let’s Live for Today when he passed away.
Ken Levine on Amy Winehouse.

0 thoughts on “Sherwood, Betty and Rob”

    1. They didn’t even give the full name to Skipper or the Professor for several episodes. Gilligan, i.e., Bob Denver, was the star because he was well known from Dobie Gillis.


  1. I have heard of these shows but never seen them. I don’t think they made their way across the pond.
    Betty Ford was a lovely woman – a very commendable First Lady.


  2. Roger, again, my mind is reeling from all the great references. THANK YOU for including that pic of Betty Ford, one of my all-time heroes because of her openness about her addiction. She helped an awful lot of people get into treatment.

    I remember Bob Denver as Maynard G. Krebs, what a synapse blew with that! Also, worth noting that Alan Hale, the Skipper, was actually Alan Hale, Jr. He dropped the “Jr.” after his dad died. Senior was a character actor from hundreds of old films and his son looked almost identical!

    I heard the Stairway to Heaven version on the radio in the 70s before Jimmy Page and whatsisname, the other jerk from Zep, made them pull it from the airwaves, threatening a lawsuit. Talk about no sense of humor. I used to do it at piano bars all the time! Thanks for more and more memories, Roger. You have a mind like a steel trap… I’d hate to be pitted against you in a trivia contest! Amy


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