Whatever name (bucket? tennis? floppy?) Princess Foufou or Kate Spade want to give to this summer's ubiquitous noggin topper, it's still a hat forever linked by reruns to that fearless, seafaring clotheshorse of the '60s, Gilligan. Turns out that actor Bob Denver wore several caps over the three-year course of "Gilligan's Island." But only one of the originals survives, says TV artifact expert James G. Comisar. And it's his--or rather it's part of the Beverly Hills-based Comisar Collection Inc. and the affiliated Museum of Television Treasures. The bad news: You can't visit it. The good news: Gilligan's hat--and the Skipper's, too--are in very good hands.
Q: How did you come by the Gilligan hat?
A: About five years ago, I contacted one of Bob Denver's sons. He told me that Mr. Denver had lost all of his Gilligan shirts and hats over the years. The son said to call Mr. Denver's stunt double, a man named Bob D'Arcy. So I did. Nice man, proud to have been part of the show. All he had left was a hat.
Q: What kind of shape was it in?
A: It still had water stains on it from when he had to jump into Gilligan's Lagoon. To me, that was a tremendous premium.
Q:The public can't see it?
A: It needs to be in a climate-controlled environment. If the humidity goes up 3%, I get paged. This is not Planet Hollywood. You're not going to see our stuff hanging on a wall for 18 hours a day under lights, being exposed to cigarette smoke and hamburger grease. This is conservation, not exploitation.
Q: How much did it cost?
A: It's not appropriate to say. I hate reducing things to dollar value. It's a piece of television history, and for that reason, it's priceless. It would take Thurston Howell himself to make an offer grand enough for me to sell it.