(I can't believe no one has done this before!)
Gilligan's Island, the enormously popular TV series of the 1960s, was created by Sherwood Schwartz, a Jew born in Passaic, NJ in 1916. Schwartz, who also created The Brady Bunch, became a writer in part because of antisemitism.
He intended to go to medical school but the quota system in place limiting the number of Jews stopped him from being accepted. A friend suggested he change his last name to Black (the translation of Schwartz) and pretend to be a Unitarian to get into med school. Schwartz's response: “I said, ‘Look, I’m Jewish. I’m not ashamed of that. My name is Schwartz and I’m not ashamed of that. I’m not going to be changing anything to get into medical school.’ So as a result I didn’t get into medical school.”
Schwartz thought that his chances of being accepted might be better if he got a second degree, so he went to stay with his older brother Al in California to attend USC, where he got a masters in biological science. At the time, Al was a writer for Bob Hope, so Sherwood submitted a few jokes to the comedy legend - and was hired with a seven year writing contract.
He went on from there to write for comedy series like the Ozzie and Harriet radio show in the 1950s. But all the while, he was developing his own show.
Schwartz described the concept in an interview:
“I thought I had a great idea. And it’s still a great idea. It’s people. Here’s a serious show. It’s serious in that Arabs and Jews have to learn to live together for they’re stuck together. North Koreans and South Koreans, they have to learn. If you don’t learn, you’ll all die. So there’s this philosophic basis — this is not an afterthought, this is in the show. When the show first came on the air I got with regularity bachelor’s degree, master’s degree thesis from people in the theatrical area explaining what’s the basis for Gilligan’s Island. Like I didn’t know. It was carefully thought out, these seven people. That took me like a year to figure out who should be on the island. And it was all with a view towards the respect that people have to learn for each other because nobody is the same as anybody else. ....That’s what the show is about, people learning to live together.”
While the show did not have any overt Jewish themes, it did have two Jewish actresses.
Tina Louise, who played the bombshell actress Ginger, was Jewish, born Tatiana Josivovna Chernova Blacker in New York City in 1934. Her husband Les Crane (Stein) was also Jewish.
Natalie Schafer, who played Mrs. "Lovey" Howell, was also Jewish. She was born in 1900, and was actually twelve years older than Jim Backus, who played her husband.