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Bob Denver

Bob Denver

Robert Osbourne Denver (January 9, 1935 – September 2, 2005) was an American comedic actor, widely known for portraying Gilligan on the 1964-1967 television series Gilligan's Island and beatnik Maynard G. Krebs on the 1959–1963 series The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

Bob Denver
Born(1935-01-09)January 9, 1935
New Rochelle, New York
DiedSeptember 2, 2005(2005-09-02)(aged 70)
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Alma materLoyola University (Loyola Marymount University)
Years active1959–1997
Spouse(s)Maggie Ryan (1960–div. 1966; 2 children)
Jean Webber (1967–div. 1970)
Carole Abrahams (1972–div. 1975; 1 child)
Dreama Perry (1979–his death 2005; 1 child)


Denver was born January 9, 1935 in New Rochelle, New York but raised in Brownwood, Texas. He graduated from Loyola University in Los Angeles, California with a degree in political science. He acted in college productions at Loyola and met fellow student Dwayne Hickman, with whom he later co-starred in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. After graduation, he coached physical education and taught mathematics and history at Corpus Christi School, a Roman Catholic elementary school in Pacific Palisades, California.[1]

In 1971, Denver was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia in his car and pleaded no contest for a reduced sentence of a $250 fine. In 1998, he was arrested for marijuana delivered to his home, originally saying that the delivery came from Dawn Wells who played Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island, but he later refused to name her in court, testifying that "some crazy fan must have sent it." He pleaded no contest and received six months probation.[2]

Denver died September 2, 2005 from pneumonia,[3] at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He had been receiving cancer treatment and had undergone heart bypass surgery earlier that year.[4]


Most of Denver's acting career was in television, though he also appeared in several films and on Broadway. He was widely associated with the title character that he played in the 1960s television series Gilligan's Island, and he continued to appear as Gilligan in several movies, as a guest on other television series, in personal appearances, and as a voice actor in the animated version of the series.

Television career

Denver made his television debut in 1957, playing a small part in one episode of The Silent Service (S01 E37: "The Loss of the Tang"). While teaching at Corpus Christi in 1958, Denver was permitted to audition for a role on the sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis as a favor to his sister, who was a secretary on the production lot. He got the role, and left teaching the following year to become a regular on the series. From 1959 to 1963, he appeared on the series as Maynard G. Krebs, the teenaged beatnik best friend of Dobie Gillis, played by Dwayne Hickman. After filming the first three episodes, Denver received his draft notice, and was briefly written out of the script and replaced, but he was designated 4-F due to an old neck injury, and returned to Dobie Gillis having missed only one episode. Denver later reprised his Maynard G. Krebs role in the television sequels Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis? (1977) and Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis (1988).

During his time on Dobie Gillis, Denver appeared on the NBC interview program, Here's Hollywood. In 1963, Denver played his only major dramatic role on television, as a physician (Dr. Paul Garrett) in one episode of Dr. Kildare, telecast on October 10, 1963; the episode, "If You Can't Believe the Truth ...", also featured Barbara Eden and Ken Berry.[5] Between the end of Dobie Gillis and the start of Gilligan's Island, Denver appeared in an episode of The Farmer's Daughter and in the final episode of The Danny Thomas Show. He also had a one-episode role replacing the actor who played Dudley A. "Dud" Wash, the fiancé of Charlene Darling of the Darlings, on The Andy Griffith Show which was aired March 30, 1964. This was done by the network to promote Denver's face and make him more familiar to the viewing audience, since Gilligan's Island was about to go on air.[6]

Following the cancellation of Dobie Gillis, Denver landed the title role on the sitcom Gilligan's Island, which ran for three seasons (1964–67) on CBS, and became a staple of later syndication. His role as the well-meaning but bumbling first mate among a small group of shipwrecked castaways became the one for which he is most remembered. During the run, Denver privately went out of his way to help his co-stars who warmly appreciated his efforts, such as successfully demanding that Russell Johnson and Dawn Wells be included in the series' opening credits and insisting that Wells get an equal share of the series' publicity with Tina Louise.[7][8] A decade after the series was cancelled, Denver played Gilligan in the made-for-TV reunion movies Rescue from Gilligan's Island (1978), The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979), and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981). He also lent his voice to the animated series The New Adventures of Gilligan and its sequel Gilligan's Planet. During the 1980s, he re-created the character of Gilligan for numerous cameo appearances, including episodes of ALF, Meego and Baywatch, as well as a bartender in the film Back to the Beach (1987).

After Gilligan's Island, Denver went on to star on other TV comedy series, including The Good Guys (1968–1970), Dusty's Trail (1973) (a show similar to Gilligan's Island, involving a lost wagon train headed to California), and the Sid and Marty Krofft children's program Far Out Space Nuts (1975). Four episodes of Dusty's Trail were later combined to create a feature film, The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West (1976).

Denver's other television roles included guest appearances on multiple episodes of Love, American Style, The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. In 1983, he starred in the television pilot The Invisible Woman as the bumbling mad scientist uncle of the title character.

Film career

Denver's first feature film appearance was in the service farce, A Private's Affair (1959), with Sal Mineo. Credited as "Robert Denver", he had a small role in the Jimmy Stewart film, Take Her, She's Mine (1963), playing a beatnik poet working at a coffee shop. Denver also appeared in the beach film For Those Who Think Young (1964) with Tina Louise prior to the development of Gilligan's Island.

Other films in which Denver appeared include Who's Minding the Mint? (1967), The Sweet Ride (1968) and Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady? (1968) with Phyllis Diller. In 1983, he appeared in the television movie High School U.S.A..

Other work

Denver in 1977

Denver in 1977

In 1970, Denver replaced Woody Allen in the original Broadway production of Allen's hit comedy Play It Again, Sam, earning praise from The New York Times critic Clive Barnes for conveying "a genuine clown-like wistfulness" that Barnes had found lacking in Allen's own performance in the starring role.[9]

Later in his life, Denver returned to his adopted home of Princeton, West Virginia, and became an FM radio personality. He and his wife, Dreama, ran a small "oldies format" radio station, WGAG-LP 93.1 FM. He also earned a small income making public appearances, often costumed as Gilligan. In 1992, he played Gilligan to benefit the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a West Virginia fundraiser for the organization.[10]



1959A Private's AffairMacIntosh
1963Take Her, She's MineAlex
1964For Those Who Think YoungKelp
1967Who's Minding the Mint?Willie Owens
1968The Sweet RideChoo-Choo Burns
Did You Hear the One About the Traveling Saleslady?Bertram Webb
1976The Wackiest Wagon Train in the WestDusty
1987Back to the BeachBartender


1957The Silent ServiceMurphEpisode: "The Tang's Last Shot"
1959–1963The Many Loves of Dobie GillisMaynard G. KrebsMain cast, 144 episodes
1963Dr. KildareDr. Paul GarrettEpisode: "If You Can't Believe the Truth"
The Farmer's DaughterLieutenant TennerEpisode: "An Enterprising Young Man"
1964The Andy Griffith ShowDud WashEpisode: "Divorce, Mountain Style"
The Danny Thomas ShowHerbieEpisode: "The Persistent Cop"
1964–1967Gilligan's IslandGilliganLead role, 98 episodes
1967I Dream of JeannieHaroldEpisode: "My Son, the Genie"
1968–1970The Good GuysRufus ButterworthLead role, 42 episodes
1970–1973Love, American StyleEarl / Jeffrey /Sam Cosgrove3 episodes
1973–1974Dusty's TrailDustyLead role, 26 episodes
1974–1975The New Adventures of GilliganGilliganVoice role, 24 episodes
1975Far Out Space NutsJuniorLead role, 15 episodes
1977Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis?Maynard G. KrebsTelevision film
Captain KangarooHimself1 episode
1978Rescue from Gilligan's IslandGilliganTelevision film
1979The Love BoatJason Markham2 episodes
The Castaways on Gilligan's IslandGilliganTelevision film
1980–1983Fantasy IslandMorris Binstock
Francis Elkins
Don Winters
Tim Kearns
4 episodes
1981The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's IslandGilliganTelevision film
1982Twilight TheaterVarious charactersTelevision film
The Love BoatNorman LomaxEpisode; "A Dress to Remember"
ScampsOliver HopkinsTelevision film
Gilligan's PlanetGilliganVoice role, 13 episodes
1983The Invisible WomanDr. Dudley PlunkettTelevision film
High School U.S.A.Milton FeldTelevision film
1987The New GidgetGilliganEpisode: "Gilligidge Island"
ALFEpisode: "Somewhere Over the Rerun"
1988Bring Me the Head of Dobie GillisMaynard G. Krebs
1992BaywatchGilliganEpisode: "Sit Right Back and You'll Hear a Tale"
1993Evening ShadeHimself2 episodes
1994Space Ghost Coast to CoastEpisode: "Gilligan"
Herman's HeadEpisode: "The Herm from Ipanema"
1995RoseanneJackieEpisode: "Sherwood Schwartz: A Loving Tribute"
1997MeegoGilliganEpisode: "Mommy 'n' Meego"
1998The SimpsonsHimselfVoice role
Episode: "Simpson Tide"
2001Surviving Gilligan's IslandHimselfTelevision film


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