10 things you probably didn't know about Bob Denver
Learn how Gilligan links to Elvis, Andy Griffith and the city of Denver.
Bob Denver is the rare actor to bring two iconic, rather different sitcom characters to life — both of which were quite different from the thoughtful, intellectual man himself. His role as goatee-sporting Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis came to define the beatnik in the minds of many. A few years later, he popped on that trademark white bucket hat and became the loveable goof Gilligan.
Of course, that was just the 1960s. He would go on to charm children of the 1970s on the Sid and Marty Krofft show Far Out Space Nuts.
Here are ten intriguing bio details about Bob Denver.
1. He was born one day after Elvis Presley.
The winter of 1935 was fruitful for pop culture. On Wednesday, January 9, Bob Denver came into this world in New Rochelle, New York. Elvis had another connection to Gilligan's Island (though, sadly, he never showed up on the island). When the King gave a press conference at Fort Dix in 1960, Tina Louise (Ginger) was in the press corps and asked the pop idol if he would still use "suggestive movements."
2. He attended Loyola Marymount University with future 'Dobie' costar Dwayne Hickman.
Denver and Hickman were acquainted well before they became Maynard and Dobie on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The two went to college at Loyola in Los Angeles and knew of each other. It's a small world.
3. He was teaching P.E. and math when he shot the pilot for 'Dobie Gillis'
At the age of 23, Denver was teaching Phys Ed, math and history at a Catholic school in Pacific Palisades when he shot the pilot for Dobie Gillis. He had also put in time as a postal worker. He left his educational gig for television when the sitcom was picked up in 1959.
4. He was drafted during the production of 'Dobie' but stayed on the show thanks to his neck.
After just the third episode, Denver received his draft notice. His departure was written into the show with the episode "Maynard's Farewell to the Troops," and Michael J. Pollard was hired to play his replacement, Maynard's cousin, Jerome Krebs. However, Denver was labeled 4-F — unfit for military service — due to a problematic neck. Thankfully, he was rehired for the series.
5. He appeared on 'The Andy Griffith Show.'
After Dobie and before his three-hour tour, Denver briefly appeared on The Andy Griffith Show as Dud Walsh, a feller married into the country Darling clan. He is only seen in "Divorce, Mountain Style," as it was a marketing tactic by the network to promote the face of their upcoming Gilligan's Island.
6. He hit the beach in a movie with Tina Louise before 'Gilligan's Island.'
Months before Gilligan's hit the airwaves, Denver and Louise costarred in the summer surf flick For Those Who Think Young. The teen comedy also featured Nancy Sinatra and Ellen Burstyn. Denver sports a beard — which sings.
7. Jerry Van Dyke was the first choice to play Gilligan.
Sherwood Schwartz initially hoped to cast Van Dyke, finding him perfect for the role. The series creator wrote in his memoir, "You not only expect to see Jerry Van Dyke in a sweatshirt, you expect to see a hole in it." However, Van Dyke's agent pushed his client to take another role.
8. Gilligan's first name is Willy.
Yes, trivia buffs, Gilligan has a first name and it's not Gilligan. According to Schwartz, it is Willy.
9. He is not related to John Denver.
Bob is not related to John Denver, who was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr.
10. His death was repeatedly, incorrectly reported throughout his life… and after it.
In early 1961, Bob Denver was reported dead more than 36 times in more than 30 states, according to a story that year in the Salt Lake Tribune. It became a common prank to call a newspaper and ask, "Is it true Bob Denver is dead?" The bizarre trend began to bother the Dobie Gillis star: "'At first it was spooky,' he says. 'Then it seemed like a gag. When it kept up, it made me somewhat angry.'" In September 2012, Twitter again blew up with news of Denver's death — seven years after his passing.