What’s Hecuba To Harold?

[banner] Hecuba carried off by the Greeks

15 May 2023
· Hecuba and Hamlet on an island ·

There are times when I’m convinced that the Fates jerk me around on my thread simply to amuse themselves. Sit right back and you’ll hear a tale.

On this fateful trip I was searching (online, that is) for Hecuba, Queen of Troy, King Priam’s ill-fated wife. From that one word, Hecuba, up popped:

Gilligan’s Island, Season 3, Episode 4 (aired 3 Oct 1966), The Producer. To impress movie producer Harold Hecuba (Phil Silvers) whose plane has crashed on their island, the castaways write and perform their own musical version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Nothing at all to do with my context, but the sisters were having fun and there were our names, Hecuba’s and mine, in the same sentence. Fate. It wasn’t hard to figure out. I mentioned Queen Hecuba a couple of times in Hamlet, and the writers of this American sitcom episode (Dee Caruso and Gerald Gardner) used her name in their story featuring the play. Perhaps Harold Hecuba paid homage to Hollywood producer Harold Hecht, an idea that seems slightly less coincidental after you notice that the episode was directed by Hollywood veteran Ida Lupino. Or perhaps Caruso and Gardner just liked the alliteration.

Transforming my searched-for Hecuba from female to male, it was quick work to find the episode on Amazon and YouTube, and YouTube had clips. These are the good bits.

[video at YouTube]
Tune: the Habanera aria from Georges Bizet’s Carmen

I ask, to be or not to be?
A rogue or peasant slave is what you see
A boy who loves his mother’s knee
And so I ask, to be or not to be?
So hear my plea, I beg of thee
And say you see a little hope for me
To fight or flee, to fight or flee
I ask myself, to be or not to be?

Claudius and Gertrude:
He asks to be, or not to be
A rogue and peasant slave is what you see
My son who loves his mother’s knee
And so he asks to be or not to be
To hear his plea, we beg of thee
And say we see a little hope for he

To fight or flee, to fight or flee
I ask myself, to be or not to be?

[video at YouTube]
Tune: the Barcarolle from Jacques Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann

Hamlet, dear, your problem is clear
Avenging thy father’s death
You seek to harm your uncle and mom
But you’re scaring me to death

While I die, and sigh, and cry
That love is everything
You’re content to try to catch
The conscience of a king

Since the date
When your dad met his fate
You-oo-oo just brood
And you don’t touch your food

You hate your ma
Mad at my pa
You’ll kill the king
Or some silly thing, so

Hamlet, Hamlet
Do be a lamb, let
Rotten enough alone
From Ophelia
No one can steal ya
You’ll always be my own

Leave the gravedigger scene
If you know what I mean
Danish pastry for two
For me, for you

[video at YouTube]
Tune: the Toreador March, also from Carmen

  • Polonius:
  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be
  • Do not forget
  • Stay out of debt
  • Think twice, and take this good advice from me
  • Guard that old solvency!
  • There’s just one other thing
  • You ought to do
  • To thine own self be true

[refrain by the company]

  • • Though I hadn’t seen the Hamlet episode before, this isn’t Gilligan’s début on the blog. This is.
  • • To Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos, I enjoyed the trip as much as you did.