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.