Bob Denver said he was ''100 percent'' typecast, and he loved it

Some actors didn't like the notion of being typecast. For Denver, it was certainly better than the alternative.

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The titular character from Gilligan's Island was played by Bob Denver, an actor who became synonymous with the "little buddy," as The Skipper called him. 

The red shirt and hat, paired with the breezy scenes of the isle are all images that come to mind when thinking of Bob Denver and his career. Denver, like so many other actors who played all-time classic roles, are forever connected to that character from the public eye perspective. 

Being typecast into a specific role can take its toll on actors looking to break into something different, whether it be a different character in the same field, or a new genre entirely. 

For Denver, who starred as beatnik sidekick Maynard G. Krebs from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis before landing on the island, being typecast wasn't a bad thing.

Denver went from one career-defining role in Maynard G. Krebs to another in Gilligan, and those two roles followed him the rest of his life. In a 1978 newspaper article from Knight-Ridder News Service, he couldn't believe someone would even ask if he thought he was typecast. 

"Am I typecast?" Denver asked rhetorically. "Completely; 100 percent. I love it." 

It's not the typical response to the constant association with one or two characters for an entire career, but Denver called it for what it was. 

"It's a lot better than not being cast at all." 

Once Denver began on Gilligan's Island in 1964, he became comfortable with the role and it was easy for him to embrace it, even away from the set. Fans love when actors embrace their characters, which is part of the reason they become typecast to begin with. The inability to seperate the actor from the character can sometimes frustrate actors, but for Denver, he had no trouble leaning into his characters. Even in real life. 

"Most of the time now I wear western clothes," he said in a 1966 interview with The Newspaper Enterprise Association. "Even to parties." 

Embracing his roles and accepting his typecasting was part of the fun for Denver. He used the same attitude to deal with Gilligan's Island critics who complained the show was too far-fetched, even for television. 

"Some man came up to me and said, 'That's a ridiculous show,'" Denver said. "I said, 'I'm glad you like it.' Sure it's ridiculous — it's meant to be ridiculous and silly." 

Gilligan's Island was a silly show, Gilligan was a silly character, and it's clear Bob Denver wouldn't have it any other way, nor would he shy away from the role that further pushed him into television stardom. 

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25 Comments

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saswifteagle 17 months ago
Love Bob Denver in Gilligan's Island. It is refreshing hearing an actor NOT complaining about his role ruining his life.
DZee 17 months ago
Even though I've seen episodes of Gilligan's Island dozens and dozens of times.....some of them still make me laugh out loud.
same 17 months ago
I watched him on Gilligan's Island and three of the reunion movies Dobie Gillis and one reunion movie and the Saturday morning sitcom Far Out Space Nuts.
clovergirl 17 months ago
I watched a rerun of "Dusty's Trail", and when I saw Bob Denver in it, all I could think of was "Gilligan".
GoUTVols1961 clovergirl 17 months ago
Dusty's Trail is the same show as Gilligan only it is set in the old west.
tootsieg 17 months ago
Bob Denver was right. The show was meant to be ridiculous and he had fun with it.
vinman63 17 months ago
Bob Denver ended up being loved by Sitcom world whether happen to that relative of Dick Van Dyke who played a character whose mother can back as a car. I think his name was Jerry.
bigB666 vinman63 17 months ago
Jerry van Dyke passed away 1/5/2018
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CoreyC 17 months ago
The third season had Dawn Wells on top and Russell Johnson on bottom cause to give them equal billing since they shared it.
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Pacificsun 17 months ago

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Writers and Producers of "escapist" Sixties television primary job was to entertain. But if they could do so with the context of innovation and novelty, they did so. Green Acres was said to be an experiment in surrealism, but viewers of the day never cared. To the point is speaking about "improbability." And that was the challenge, how much could creative talent get away with, while keeping a Show playful and memorable?

It's also been said that GI represented a microcosm of society's stereotypes. If the Howells were to represent affluence and material excess, then the characters needed to be exaggerated. After all, if everything on GI was straight-forward, like a group of "sightseers" turning into Robinson Crusoe, would probably wear off quickly. Plus, they had to build in plot devices, which required the depiction of extremism. The inclusion of the Howells, was an attempt to level the equality of all those stereotypes, where there was no difference between the most advantaged and simplicity (Howells vs. Gilligan).
tomtriox 17 months ago
Originally the idea was going to be that the Minnow was simply transferring the passengers from one island to the next.
Zip 17 months ago
Those may have been "suitcases full of money" to you and I, but to Mr. Howell, that was his wallet. "Walking around money," as he would say.
dmarkwind 17 months ago
In terms of racial diversity, Star Trek showed a lot more than GiIligan’s Island ever did. The stereotyped “natives” in GI were mostly white actors in makeup, with the exception of Eddie Little Sky, who was an Indigenous North American actor of the Oglala Lakota tribe, not a Pacific islander. The highly-stereotyped “Japanese soldier” character who appeared in two episodes (one in ‘flashbacks’ of events that never happened), was played by Italian-American Comedy Actor Vito Scotti, who also played Dr. Boris Balinkoff in two episodes. If they ever once showed a Black or other person of color on GI, I can’t recall it, whereas Trek had actual Black and Asian actors as part of its main cast. I will give them credit for having Mr. Howell portray attitudes of the very rich, such as being staunchly anti-union and anti-tax.
Andybandit 17 months ago
Bob Denver played his roles really well. Little Buddy.
McGillahooala 17 months ago
Bob Denver is the polar opposite of Pernell Roberts. Not to say one is better than the other, but I would rather be in the Bob Denver camp. After all you’re getting paid to play like you’re someone else. How serious can you really take that?
Pacificsun McGillahooala 17 months ago
Well said. Your observation is accurate. Because, eventually, almost anything an actor says in reference to their experience (in acting) will come full circle. Might as well make those quotes and interviews, positive. 😉 Especially to be remembered by them!!
Pacificsun 17 months ago
Like Don Knotts, Bob Denver possessed a rare humility as an actor. Look at how much gratitude he's expressed. Apparently satisfied (happy?) with being the ultimate sidekick. And he spent his energy perfecting that role, like we always think of, regarding Don Knotts (Barney Fife).

IMO, this is a very nicely written article, with a simple message, helping to make the character even more endearing. Thank you, MeTV Staff writers!
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