'Gilligan's Island' Composer Dies

"Gilligan's Island" cast: (l-r) Jim Backus, Russell Johnson, Natalie Schafer, Bob Denver, Tina Louise, Alan Hale Jr. and Dawn Wells AP

George Wyle, who wrote the theme song to "Gilligan's Island" and directed music for singers including Andy Williams, has died at the age of 87.

Wyle also wrote the Christmas classic "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" and more than 400 other songs.

He died Friday of leukemia at the Encino-Tarzana Regional Medical Center in Tarzana, his son Jerry Weissman said.

"The Ballad of Gilligan's Island," which Wyle wrote with the show's creator and producer Sherwood Schwartz, became one of the most popular television theme songs. The show debuted on CBS in 1964 and ran until 1967, but its reruns remained popular for years.

"America doesn't want great music themes," Wyle once said of the song. "Just something it can remember."

In recent years, Wyle wrote music and lyrics and directed choirs for community groups and schools in Thousand Oaks, just north of Los Angeles.

"Music is a learning process. It's a reading process. Everybody gets a book of words, and we learn. It teaches them to work with other people. It teaches kids to get out and sing," he told the Daily News of Los Angeles in 1998.

Wyle was born Bernard Weissman in New York City and began playing piano professionally at clubs in New York's Catskill Mountains. He moved to Los Angeles in 1946 to write and conduct music for the "Alan Young Radio Show."

In Los Angeles, he worked as choral director for television shows such as "The Dinah Shore Show," "The Jerry Lewis Show" and "The Andy Williams Show." He also handled music for specials by magician David Copperfield, Carol Channing, and for the People's Choice Awards presentations.

Besides his son, Wyle is survived by a daughter, sister and brother.


  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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