Ask Chris: Did a “Gilligan’s Island” Star Build the Castaway Restaurant in Burbank?

Two years before TV’s Skipper made his debut, the L.A. restaurant known for lavishly themed showplaces opened its doors

Is it true the Castaway in Burbank was built by actor Alan Hale?

The hillside restaurant once sported bamboo furniture, nautical decor, and even a lagoon-like Gilligan’s Island, but it wasn’t Hale’s.

In 1962, two years before Hale debuted as TV’s Skipper, David Tallichet and George Millay launched the Castaway. Their Specialty Restaurants Corporation was known for lavishly themed showplaces filled with pirates, tikis, and airplanes and still operates the venue. But you’re likely confusing it with Alan Hale’s Lobster Barrel on La Cienega. The Skipper greeted seafood-munching guests at his spot from 1971 to 1982, then started a travel agency whose offerings included pleasure boat tours.

Q: Is it possible to buy an Oscar statue from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

A: I’d like to thank the academy for presenting Wolfgang Puck’s chocolate Oscars to everyone who attends the Governors Ball, but the gold-plated originals are not for sale. Well, most of them anyway. After Sid Grauman, of Chinese Theatre fame, died in 1950, everything from his TV to his diamond earrings were auctioned. The academy paid $450 for his honorary Oscar and changed its bylaws to forbid future sales of the golden boy. Dozens of awards dated 1929 to 1951 have since sold, some for over $1 million, but the academy has employed new legal strategies to enforce its belief that the award “should be won, not purchased.”

Q: Has an Angeleno ever been killed or seriously injured by a falling palm frond?

A: High winds have knocked off dead palm crowns in Beverly Hills, sent a 50-footer crashing into a parked car in Westminster, and propelled one plant’s thorns into a woman walking in Hollywood, sending her to the hospital. No gusts were reported on the day in 2014 when a one-ton palm collapsed and killed 49-year-old Tony Calderon in East L.A. Power lines fell with the tree, endangering would-be rescuers. Firefighters have also been injured by flames at the intersection of palm fronds, power lines, and high winds.

Chris’s Pick

Life Is a Cabaret: Babs at the Bourbon

Photo: Chris Fore

Barbara Dixon hits the stage with jazz hands swinging in her show, Broadway Barbara Live!, at the Bourbon Room on April 4. The social media sensation powers through a high-energy cabaret act that doesn’t let up until the third curtain call. The self-anointed “show-biz legend” will share (fictional) backstage stories of Sondheim, Fosse, and her late husband manages to make an appearance.

Dixon’s love for the genre shines through as she belts out The Ladies Who Lunch with a troupe of backup dancers. Barbara, who may or may not also be Groundlings alum Leah Sprecher, stands by her “humble” belief that she’s the “greatest performer of this or any other generation.” The gag  doesn’t have to be this good for the joke to work, but it is.

— Chris Nichols

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