July 20th, 2011
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The cast of Gilligan’s Island

A good and very funny friend of mine, Annie Howell, loves, loves everything about Gilligan’s Island.

She and her husband, Brad, and their two boys even named their dog, Thurston, after the lock jawed, elitist character marooned on the island, Thurston Howell III.  I think everyone who watched the show identified with at least one of the characters — the Professor, Marianne, Gilligan, the Skipper or The Movie Star — who every week would comically try to escape from Gilligan’s Island.  I liked to think I was Ginger, the Movie Star.

When the sad news broke this week that television producer Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the iconic television series, Gilligan’s Island, and also The Brady Bunch, died at the age of 94, Annie was heartbroken.  Yesterday she found out that Schwartz wrote a farewell letter titled, “A Conversation At The Gates” and that Schwartz had requested that his family have it published posthumously in The Hollywood Reporter.

 Thanks Annie for sharing it with your friends and now I share it with you:

A Conversation at the Gates
By Sherwood Schwartz
One day in the not too distant future, I will find
myself standing in front of the Pearly Gates.
I knock.
A pleasant voice calls out, “Who’s there?”
“Sherwood Schwartz,” I answer.
“One moment,” says the Voice.  “I have lots of Schwartzs on my list.
Did you say Sherwood?”
“Yes, Sherwood Schwartz.  I was born November 14, 1916.
My parents were Rose and Herman Schwartz.
“Yes, yes, I have it right here.  Your parents loved you very much.”
“I loved them very much as well.  I lived with them until
I got married.”
“To Mildred, according to my records,” says the Voice.
“Yes.  I never believed in love at first sight until I met Mildred.
I always thought “love at first sight” was just poetic babble.”
“That’s what they all say until it happens to them.”
“I loved Mildred with all my heart for over sixty-nine years.”
I’m sure she loved me as much as I loved her.”
“She did,” says the Voice.  “And you had four children,
Donald, Lloyd, Ross and Hope.”
“Four wonderful children,” I couldn’t help adding,
“All of them quite different, but all of them talented,
and hard-working.  I’m pleased I was able to watch
each of them reach certain goals.”
“You sound very proud of them,” says the Voice.”
“Mildred and I were always very proud.
We took good care of them when they were young, and they
took good care of us when we got old.”
“I see they each have two children; Donald, two girls,
Lloyd two boys, Ross two grils, and Hope two girls.”
“All of them talented and industrious, like their parents,” I say.
“All well-educated in different professions:
Medicine, Law and Entertainment,”
“I see you also have four great grandchildren,
Two great granddaughters and two great grandsons.”
I say, “You keep very good records.”
“I have to,” says the Voice.  “People keep
coming and going all the time.  You’ve been pretty
busy yourself.  After college you started writing
and you never stopped.”
“That’s because writing isn’t a profession; it’s a disease.
And it’s accompanied by a disease that’s even worse,
“I know all about that,” says the Voice.  “You’re not
the first writer to to knock on my gate.  But at least
you were successful.  Many writers are not.”
“That’s true.  I’ve been well-rewarded with plenty of money for me,
for my family, and for my charities.”
“A good life I would say,” says the Voice.,
“With plenty of awards and honors.”
“And plenty of hard knocks from critics,” I reply.
“That comes with the territory,” says the Voice.  “But you’ve had
lots of compensation.  Not just money; thousands of fan letters
you’ve received from people all over the world,
thanking you for entertaining them
with words that brought them a smile or a
laugh, sometimes when they needed it most.”
Then the Voice continues apologetically, “I
didn’t mean to keep you waiting outside the gate.  Go ahead: Ask.
Ask what they all want to know when they knock at my gate:
Am I going to Heaven or not?
“That’s what I was going to ask when I got here,” I say,
then I suddenly realized something when we talked.
Heaven is where I’ve been since the day I was born.”
A fond farewell.
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