Dawn Wells on her feelings towards Bob Denver

Mary Ann on Gilligan: "He's kind of a genius."

When taking a look back at all these old shows, research can fall into two categories. There are interviews where actors toe the company line, keeping their real feelings close to the chest and divulging very few truths. Then, there are the interviews that are much more exciting to find. These are candid articles that highlight an actor speaking from the heart. Whether the interviewee is positive or negative, their language leads one to believe they're speaking truthfully.

This Dawn Wells interview from a 1967 edition of the Oakland Tribune exists in that second category. It's clear from the start just how earnest Wells is willing to be.

"I think Bob Denver is kind of a genius," said Wells. Immediately, this interview is different from the overly-manufactured producer-approved style of its ilk. Phony press back then had a ring of insincerity to it, but straight away it's obvious Wells is being genuine.

"He's the most amazing person, completely unlike Gilligan, the rest of us — the other six — are really a lot like our characters. But Bob is not a comedian, really. He's quiet, very deep. He was a schoolteacher, you know.

"He seems to see the world differently from other people somehow. He almost sees the world like a child, and notices the kind of things that kids do. He was telling me the other day how he built a treehouse for his own kids, then stayed up in the treehouse until midnight reading horror stories aloud, scaring themselves to death. That's the kind of thing I mean. He enjoyed it as much as the kids did."

While, to Wells, this is an honest assessment, we do have to note that this is absolutely something Gilligan would do. Regardless, as she continues, Wells' words paint a kind picture of her Gilligan's Island costar.

"When he's performing, it's like a little light goes on. He becomes whatever he's doing. Last week he told me about going to the pound to look for a dog, and as he told the story he became each dog — a cocker, then a great dane — and he seems to do it unconsciously.

"He doesn't care about material things either. Their house is a wonderful place with at least 20 cats, and the kids have a spider farm. Bob's wife says she practically had to hogtie him to get him in a suit."

For those of us who weren't lucky enough to meet Bob Denver before his death in 2005, this interview lets us know that he was everything we'd hoped.

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7 Comments

jmworacle 1 month ago
It was Bob Denver insisted that Ms. Wells and Russell Johnson be named in the opening credits starting with season two. When CBS refused he then told them: "Well include me in all the rest." The rest is history. His performance as Maynard on "Dobie Gillis" is an under rated classic.
Piglet 1 month ago
My mom and dad went to high school with Bob Denver in Long Beach, California back in the 1950's. I thought it was great to see him in her yearbooks when I was growing up!
DoctorSavage 1 month ago
I was lucky enough to have known Dawn Wells on a speaking level. She lived in Nashville same time I did. I had correspondence with her over the years after we both left there. She sent me an autographed copy of her "What Would Mary Ann Do?" Book.
I last messengers her a few weeks before she caught COVID and passed away. Always bright and cheerful. And sometimes like to say or do something a little risqué just to laugh at people's reaction that thought she was a sweet innocent like her character. She played the hooked on stage in a production of "The Owl and the Pussycat" wearing knee boots, fishnets,leather miniskirt and very tight turtleneck sweater with nothing under it.
Lisa24 1 month ago
I love Bob Denver and Dawn Wells. They were lovely people. ❤️
Venuszeal 1 month ago
I just love Gilligan's Island. It fits in very well with all the other 50s and 60s shows on ME TV that are so good. That show is so classic because of the chemistry with all its excellent stars. Dawn Wells is awesome. Everyone loved the country girl Maryanne. She has a comic flair. Love the show!
McGillahooala 1 month ago
They were both very likable characters. I saw every episode of Gilligan’s Island when I was a kid but recently watched the first episode again. It is a great show. I plan to work my way through the whole series again.
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