Alan Hale Jr. (born Alan Hale Mackahan, March 8, 1921 – January 2, 1990) was an American movie and television actor, best known for his role as the much beloved Skipper, Jonas Grumby, on the popular sitcom Gilligan's Island.
He was born in Los Angeles, California. His father was character actor Alan Hale, Sr. and his mother was Gretchen Hartman (1897-1979), a silent film actress. His father (whom his son greatly resembled), had an extremely successful career in movies both as a leading man in silent films and as a supporting actor in sound movies, appearing in many Errol Flynn films, acting in 235 movies altogether, and playing Little John in Robin Hood films three times over a 28-year span. Hale, Jr. never matched his father's extraordinary career. While his father was adapting to sound films, Hale, Jr. began his career while still a baby.
His first important roles were as a member of Gene Autry's recurring cast of players. During the late 1940s and early 1950s, he frequently appeared in Autry movies and The Gene Autry Show on TV. He also starred in television series, such as 1952-53's Biff Baker U.S.A.. He later played the lead role in classic western series Casey Jones (TV series) (32 B&W episodes of 25 mins from 1957-1958) and The Good Guys (1968-70). In 1962, Hale also appeared on The Andy Griffith Show as Jeff Pruitt, a rough, back-woods bachelor who comes to Mayberry to find a bride. In the episode, he refers to Barney Fife more than once as "little buddy," a nickname he would later use in his most famous and beloved role, that of the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, which ran from 1964 to 1967.
During his career, he was noted for his fine supporting character roles in such movies as Up Periscope,The Fifth Musketeer, The Lady Takes a Flyer, The Giant Spider Invasion, Hang 'Em High with Clint Eastwood, and The West Point Story.
Hale died on January 2, 1990 from cancer. A resident of Hollywood, California in the final years, Hale was at St. Vincent's Medical Center in Los Angeles at the time of his death. He was cremated and his ashes were scattered at sea.
Hale was known for his great love of children. When he was dying of cancer, he learned there was a sick child in the same hospital who loved the show. He went to see the boy and said "The Skipper's here, son, everything is going to be all right."
During the weekends of 1974 to 1977, a new generation enjoyed the cartoon version of The New Adventures of Gilligan and by 1978, they brought back the original crew for a two-part episode named Rescue From Gilligan's Island. Additional TV movies followed in 1979 and 1981.