RIP, Sherwood Schwartz: Five Things You Didn't Know About Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island Creator

He wanted who to play Mike Brady and Ginger Grant?! A look back at the legendary TV creator, dead today at age 94

By Joal Ryan Jul 12, 2011 6:30 PMTags

You know Sherwood Schwartz as the writer/producer who created The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island, who reminded that balls shouldn't be thrown in the house, who made the case for overpacking for a three-hour boat tour, and who basically defined your tube-spent youth.   

Schwartz died today at age 94.

Here are five things you may not know about a TV icon whose shows you knew, and loved, so well:

1. He Wanted Gene Hackman to Play Mike Brady: As Schwartz once told us, his idea didn't get anywhere with the network suits, who preferred a familiar primetime face to a middle-aged character actor. Enter Robert Reed. And as much as Reed feuded with Schwartz over Brady Bunch scripts, you'd have to concede things worked out pretty well. (For Hackman, too.)

2. He Wanted Beyoncé to Play Ginger Grant: This was a latter-day wish, mind you, expressed as Hollywood eyed a big-screen version of Gilligan's Island. Michael Cera was his pick for Gilligan.

3. He Didn't Know Anything About Songwriting: Not, that is, until he wrote one, coming up with the lyrics for Gilligan's Island in a last-ditch attempt to sell (and explain) the sitcom. The song, with music by George Wyle, did its job, and then some. Schwartz went on to rival the Gilligan's story song with one for The Brady Bunch. Both ended on ranking on TV Land's list of the all-time TV themes: The one that started off with "Here's the story…" came in seventh; the one that began with "Just sit right back…" came in first. (And here's betting you know which is which.) 

4. He Won an Emmy: If you know that Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch were beloved by the kids who discovered them in reruns (first lady Michelle Obama, included), and not by the critics who reviewed them back in the day, then you may be surprised by this factoid. Then again, maybe you won't be because Schwartz didn't win, and was never nominated for, his two most famous shows. He won for helping write The Red Skelton Hour.

5. This Was His Favorite Episode of The Brady Bunch: He said so to the Archive of American Television. (For the hyperlink-averse, Schwartz was fondest of "Father of the Year," the one where Marcia enters a newspaper contest, essentially against Mike's wishes, to tell the world how great Mike is. All works out in the end.)