Deciding that life is short and we still have too many stories to tell to not get on with it, we’ve rolled up our respective sleeves and gotten on with it. We’re happy to be writing fiction again, but that’s for another day. For today, let me share how I lose a little piece of my short life all too frequently.
I surf the internet. Social media, not so much, but YouTube, writing forums, news sites, they steal a bit of my life almost every day. I could get through the news sites quickly if they didn’t have such enticing headlines and subheadings:
You Might Be an Old Fart if You Still Do This We are sorry to tell you that these things were never cool.
Always Place a Crayon in Your Wallet When Traveling I was all set for my trip. That’s when my friend told me to place a crayon in my wallet when traveling.
Man Denies Female Soldier Her Seat in the Plane Once she sat down, things got even worse.
Written in bold and in the same font as the real news headlines, these aren’t news items. They’re advertisements, with a tiny little note above the header to say so. The ads usually include an intriguing photograph that doesn’t explain the headline. For example, “Man Denies Female Soldier Her Seat in the Plane” shows airplane passengers looking over their shoulders at some potentially-alarming sight behind them. I don’t click on the ad, but… I’m… so… tempted.
I wish the real headlines were as tempting. El Salvador Mines First BTC (bitcoin) Using Volcano Energy is actually news, but it’s information I can live without. If I owned Bitcoin or had my own supervillain lair with volcano attached, I might feel differently. However, when I’m teased with something like The Oldest Living Star from Gilligan’s Island is 102 Years Old You’ll be amazed, I have to know more.
As a child, and a teenager, and an adult, I saw reruns of Gilligan’s Island. I can picture all of the actors in my mind. Which one of them is 102-years-old? I can, perhaps unfortunately, still sing the theme song: Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale/A tale of a fateful trip/That started from this tropic port/Aboard this tiny ship. If you’re old enough, some of you may know it, too. When we get together, we’ll sing it in unison.
I started researching the cast members, as listed in the theme song. With Gilligan: Bob Denver left us in 2005. The skipper, too: Alan Hale, Jr (Skipper) went before that, in 1990. The millionaire and his wife: Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III), gone in 1989 and Natalie Schafer (Lovey Howell), exited in 1991. The movie star: Tina Louise (Ginger Grant) is still here and is, research indicates, the same age as my mother-in-law. Ms. Louise doesn’t like her age to be shared, but she is much, much younger than 102. The Professor: Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley) passed in 2014. When I was entering my teens? I thought he was so hot. And Mary Ann: Dawn Wells left us last year. Covid.
Only Tina Louise is still standing, but she isn’t close to the century mark. So, who was the mysterious centenarian mentioned in the ad?
Nehemiah Persoff. An unusual name, but, from all accounts, a terrific actor. Click on the link and you’ll discover that he worked with Marlon Brando, Barbara Streisand, George Raft, was in dozens of movies, and collected residuals from a good number of television shows.
He was in a single episode of Gilligan’s Island, “The Little Dictator.” He played the title character. Sherwood Schwartz, the series creator, said it was his favorite episode from the show. So, is Mr. Persoff one of the stars of Gilligan’s Island?
As remarkable as his professional life has been, this claim feels a little squishy. I don’t think any of us would have agreed with it. The people creating ad-bait knew this. They’re experts in toying with us. But Mr. Persoff worked with some of the greatest talents of his generation. He had a small role in “The Wrong Man”, a break-out role in “Some Like It Hot.” So, why did the ad-meisters choose Gilligan’s Island as their hook?
More people watched Gilligan’s Island than The Wrong Man and Some Like It Hot combined.
The process of sorting this out, discovering what happened to the actors I used to enjoy, cost me two hours of my short life. Worse, I’d do it again.
Anything to avoid clicking on the ad.