R.I.P. Dwayne Hickman, who played all-American teen Dobie Gillis

He went to college with Bob Denver. They would forever be linked together as TV pals. Hickman was 87 years old.

The Everett Collection

It's a small world. At Loyola University (now Loyola Marymount) in Los Angeles, one could bump into two young men. They knew of each other. One had once considered becoming a priest. The other studied political science. That's not how the lives of Dwayne Hickman and Bob Denver would end up. The two classmates knew of each other in college. They would end up working together in one of the first major teen comedies of television — The Many Loves of Dobie Gilis

Dwayne's older brother, Darryl, was a child actor. That's how a young Hickman ended up in The Grapes of Wrath (1939), when he was only about five years old. He continued to act throughout his adolescence, working alongside the Little Rascals, Fred MacMurray, Claudette Colbert and Lionel Barrymore. Columbia Pictures launched a whole franchise called the Rusty series, about a boy and his dog, in the 1940s, and Hickman appeared in many of them. 

While Hickman was at Loyola, he landed a breakthrough role on television, as the teen lead on The Bob Cummings Show, on which he got to hone his skills alongside Ann B. Davis, long before she became Alice. Hickman had a strong worth ethic. Attending school and acting. He even appeared on The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.

He hardly missed a step after The Bob Cummings Show ended, jumping immediately into the lead role on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. The girl-crazy kid paired with his beatnik pal Maynard G. Krebs, played by his fellow Loyola acquaintance Bob Denver. With its hip slang and attractive cast — Tuesday Weld and Warren Beatty in season one — Dobie Gillis became a smash with the Boomers. Even older brother Darryl Hickman joined the show… playing Dobie's older brother! They wrote him out after season one, however.

The sitcom ran for four seasons, following the friends as they joined the Army. 

Following the demise of Dobie Gillis, Hickman found himself typecast in youth roles. He was a natural fit alongside Frankie Avalon in American International productions — "beach" (and, well, snow) B-movies aimed at teens — like Ski Party and How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

On the small screen, he found only bit parts, turning up in The Mod Squad and Love, American Style. Dobie returned, in 1977, with Whatever Happened to Dobie Gillis?, a TV pilot that saw the boy all grown up and married to Zelda. But it ended up being a one-shot, not a series.

Eventually, in the 1970s, he opted to shift to work behind the camera. Hickman became a programming exec at CBS. He returned again to the role of Dobie for the 1988 reunion Bring Me the Head of Dobie Gillis. It was heartwarming to keep checking in on such a beloved, lovestruck character.

On January 9, Hickman died from complications due to Parkinson's disease, his publicist announced, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He was 87.


 
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mdit21 3 days ago
Dwayne Hickman and Frankie Avalon also starred with Vincent Price in...

😊

R.I.P. Dwayne Hickman.
SueNavickas 10 days ago
Sad to read, in some form or another, we all grew up with some form of Dobie Gillis, the original, of course, or later incarnations like The Archie's and Scooby Doo cartoons, Saved by the Bell, and even The Wonder Years.
R.I.P, Dwayne.
RobertK 11 days ago
So sad, I wish we could keep them forever but it just doesn't work that way. One of my Winter favorite movies is "Ski Party" with Dwayne and Frankie Avalon. Corny as it is, I watch it every Wintertime. It's the Winter version of Beach Party and even has a cameo appearance of Annette Funicello playing the part of a professor. Rest Well Dobie, have some fun up there when you meet up with Maynard G. Krebbs!
RichLorn 12 days ago
I was in the prime of puberty when Dobie aired. Every time Tuesday Weld appeared I melted. She was so cute she made my teeth ache, among other things.
Plbrown76 13 days ago
I see they are doing a Full House marathon but no Dobie :( really?!
LalaLucy Plbrown76 13 days ago
My thoughts exactly.
cwboyfan56 13 days ago
Dobie was one of my all time favorite TV shows. METV should run it. RIP Dwayne Hickman.
TheresaPerry 13 days ago
I really hope MeTV would rerun this show, like they did years ago.
LalaLucy 13 days ago
Another piece of childhood gone. Dobie Gillis was another show my brother and I got very attached to back in the good ol' Nick at Nite days. Dobie and Maynard were always such fun. They reminded me of Archie and Jughead. I wish it was on at a time I could catch it. I have Decades but, like several of the great oldies, it's buried in the middle of the night. I hope they at least bring it out for a tribute...
Plbrown76 LalaLucy 12 days ago
Archie and Jughead, love the comparison!
VaughnBaskin 13 days ago
And without Dobie Gillis, we wouldn't have Zack Morris or Freddy Jones to as well!
obectionoverruled 13 days ago
Wish the article on Duane H would have included a more recent photo of America’s ‘second oldest teenager’ (respects to Dick Clark)!
KYancey 14 days ago
Bye-Bye Dobie! I'll forever enjoy Dwayne and Bob on MeTV. I first watched Dobie 30 years ago, as a teenager myself. It was a show that my mother had watched in her teens, that we both enjoyed decades apart. She's gone, now 9 years, and now Dwayne and Bob are performing for her again!
jacko3 14 days ago
... Always very somber to lose the great television’s personalities... yeah DOBBIE GILLIS was a great treat for me growing-up... hard to fathom how our favorite stars do age... like all of us .. May Our Heavenly LORD Bless the Life & Legacy of Dwayne Hickman - Praise GOD!

P.S. METV should try and get the license to show ‘Dobbie’ as fill-ins ….
RickTaylor 14 days ago
Check Dwayne out in Cat Ballou, a Western comedy. The bible carrying preacher scene on the train with Jane Fonda is fun. Lee Marvin, Oscar winner for his dual role. Very good cast and Stubby Kaye and Nat King Cole providing troubadour banjo singing Ballad of Cat Ballou between scenes.
MrsPhilHarris 15 days ago
I wish ME would air Dobie Gillis, but I see it’s airing on some other network. I know I can stream it, find it on YouTube or purchase DVDs or whatever, but I can’t be bothered. I have DVDs of Perry Mason, DIck Van Dyke, Andy Griffith, etc. but I would rather sit down and watch them on ME when they air.
Yes, others and myself have noted the same thing. There's something more "fun" (?) about letting the network choose the episodes and the airing of them, even the programming blocks. I like how they put them together. And so much easier than having to look through the hard copy media, or switch through other resources. I like to watch TV to relax (even fall asleep sometimes). I don't want it to be more work than it's worth! LOL!
Exactly! You have hit the nail on the head. 🔨
Lantern MrsPhilHarris 14 days ago
As you undoubtedly know, the Decades channel airs Dobie Gillis. What's disappointing is that the Decades website hasn't even posted an obit story on Dwayne Hickman, as ME TV has done here.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 15 days ago
Dwayne Hickman Had Outlived My Mom,He Lived Longer Than My Mom.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 15 days ago
I Did Not Like Dobie Gillis,I Liked Dwayne Hickman When He Was Then On Love That Bob.
GOOSEYGOOSE9 15 days ago
Kolchak The Night Stalker Which Was The X Files Of Its Day.
leelee1009 GOOSEYGOOSE9 14 days ago
Darren McGavin guest-starred on X Files. He didn’t play Kolchak—unfortunately!
Peter_Falk_Fan 15 days ago
I never was a big fan of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". I sometimes would watch it late at night. He was in a movie with Tuesday Weld before "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis". It's called "Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys!" (1958). Dwayne Hickman had a good role as Detective Sergeant Orkin in the "The Youth Killer" episode of "Kolchak: The Night Stalker".

R.I.P. Dwayne Hickman
Zip Peter_Falk_Fan 15 days ago
While I never really got too "into" The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis, I did enjoy the episodes I watched. It wasn't a bad show.
Yes, he had that potential to flip the switch between good and evil. I guess because being evil was the polar opposite of his squeaky clean personae.
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