Not Very Well Known Facts About the Iconic "Gilligan's Island" Star Bob Denver

Bob Denver managed to impersonate two iconic characters, Maynard Krebs and Gilligan, that couldn't be more opposite to each other, and still make them become audience favorites. Do you want to know what his connection to Elvis was or how he ended up saving a little girl's life? Here are a few intriguing facts about the legendary actor.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Shares A Birthday With Elvis Presley

January 1935 was a productive month for pop history. On January 9, one day after Elvis Presley was born, our very own "Gilligan's Island" star, Bob Denver, made his way into this world. Although being born in New Rochelle, New York, Denver grew up in Brownwood, Texas. Wouldn't it be great if Elvis had actually appeared on the show?

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


His Parents Weren't Entertainers

Although he was an extremely talented entertainer, he and his sister, Helen, didn't come from a family of artists. His parents were to Arthur L. Denver and Marion Denver lived a quiet normal life and raised Bob and Helen in one too. His father was an accountant while his mother was a stay-at-home.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives

Image Credit: Getty Images/Michael Ochs Archives


Denver First Aspired to Become An Attorney

Like many other creatives, there are far more practical avenues considered before the arts. Though his talents on screen are unarguable, Denver almost became a professional arguer in the pursuit to be an attorney. Luckily for us, he ended up in front of the camera rather than in the middle of the courtroom.

Image Credit: Getty Images/CBS Photo Archive

Image Credit: Getty Images/CBS Photo Archive


He Was A Classmate Of Future Co-star Dwayne Hickman In College

Long before co-starring as Maynard and Donie on "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis", Bob Denver and Dwayne Hickman attended Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles together, where they both took drama classes. Denver went on to graduate with a degree in political science, which he never really used throughout his life.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Also Worked As A Grocery Store Cashier

The road to television is marred with a lot of detours as you settle into the dream chasing phase. Denver was many things and a grocery store cashier in Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park was one of those many things under his belt before breaking into the scene.

Image Credit: Getty Image/CBS Photo Archive

Image Credit: Getty Image/CBS Photo Archive


He Started Out by Teaching Physical Education and Math

After graduating from Loyola Marymount University, Denver got his first job teaching Physical Education and Math at Corpus Christi School, a Catholic school in Pacific Palisades, California. He was also working as a postal worker. When the show "Dobie Gillis" was picked up in 1959, he was still working as a teacher.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Managed To Escape Military Service Because of His Neck

Only 3 episodes of "Dobie" had aired when Denver got a letter saying he had been drafted to do military service. His last episode was titled "Maynard's Farewell to the Troops", and Michael J. Pollard had been hired to replace him as Maynard's cousin. Denver was, however, considered unfit for the military because of his problematic neck.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Guest-starred On "The Andy Griffith Show"

After "Dobie" ended, Denver appeared on "The Andy Griffith Show", playing Dud Walsh, the fiancé of Charlene Darling. His role was quite a brief one and he was only seen in "Divorce, Mountain Style". It was just a marketing trick to get Denver's face promoted and more familiar to the audience before the debut of the upcoming show "Gilligan's Island".

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Denver Had Hanged Out At The Beach With Tina Louise before "Gilligan's Island" 

A few months before "Gilligan's Island" first aired, Denver had appeared alongside his "Gilligan" co-star Tina Louise in a summer movie called "For Those Who Think Young". Their characters spent a considerable amount of time at the beach on this 60's surf flick. The movie also starred featured Nancy Sinatra and had James Darren in one of the leading roles.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Actor Jerry Van Dyke Was Supposed To Land The Role of Gilligan

Bob Denver wasn't actually the first choice to play Gilligan. Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of the show, had his eyes on Jerry Van Dyke, who he found perfect for the role. "You not only expect to see Jerry Van Dyke in a sweatshirt, you expect to see a hole in it," Schwartz wrote in his memoir. Van Dyke declined, though.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Bob Was Not Related To John Denver

Ever found yourself wondering what type of relationship there was between Bob and John Denver, the singer/activist? Well, none. The only thing they have in commons is the fact that they were both Baby Boomer icons of the 60s and 70s and that they brought joy through their talents. John Denver was actually born Henry John Deutschendorf Jr.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


No One Could Get The Date Of His Death Right, Even When He Was Still Alive

Bob Denver was reported dead multiple times when he was still very much alive. In 1961 only, his death was reported over 36 times in more than 30 states. It happened multiple times throughout his life. "At first it was spooky," he said. "Then it seemed like a gag. When it kept up, it made me somewhat angry."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Denver Was Married Four Times

From his 3 first marriages came 3 children. Denver would only find forever love alongside his fourth wife, Dreama Perry, whom he married in 1979. The couple stayed together for 26 years and had 1 child. In his later years, Denver and his wife moved to Princeton, West Virginia, where they co-hosted an oldies style radio show.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Albert L. Ortega

Image Credit: Getty Images/Albert L. Ortega


Bob And Dreama Almost Didn't Make It

Denver met and fell in love with his fourth wife, Dreama, while performing with her at a regional theatre production. They survived a turbulent phase in the early stages of their relationships due to Denver's personal struggles. But, essentially they prevailed and enjoyed a long happy marriage together.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Hosted A Radio Show With His Wife Called Weekend With Denver and Denver

There's a reason that Denver had so many layers to him. He was seriously multi-talented and faceted. Along with wife Dreama Perry Denver, they co-hosted a radio show called "Weekend With Denver and Denver". The two used their electric chemistry to entertain listeners as they consistently riffed off one another on the radio.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Albert L. Ortega

Image Credit: Getty Images/Albert L. Ortega


He Had A Completely Different Personality From His Character Gilligan

Unlike his onscreen persona, the foolish and bumbling Gilligan, Denver was really a very shy and introverted person from a very young age. The highly intelligent and well-read actor spent his life looking at the adulation he got from his fans as something odd and uncomfortable.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


The City of Denver, in Colorado, Was Named After His Great-great-grandfather

Bob Denver was the great-great-grandson of James William Denver, the territorial governor of Kansas. When in 1858 the land speculator William Larimer Jr. planted a townsite in western Kansas Territory (later named Colorado), he chose to give the name Denver to the tow, in honor of Bob's family member, the then-territorial governor of Kansas.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Bob Requests Two of His Other Co-stars Be Included in the Opening Credits of the Show

If you start singing the theme song from "Gilligan's Island" the first season, you'll probably realize that something is missing. Indeed, the Professor and Mary Ann were never included in it or the show's credits. Denver made a special request to have Russel Johnson and Dawn Wells included in the credits and the theme song ended up being changed as well.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Didn't Approve of Gilligan's First Name

Sherwood Schwartz had this idea of giving the name "Willy" to Gilligan as his first name. When Bob Denver found out about this, he strongly disagreed, claiming that Gilligan should be the character's first name. They didn't really get to an agreement and ended up keeping Gilligan as the character's only name.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Went On To Reprise His Gilligan Role 9 Additional Times

His role as Gilligan was the one that he became better known for throughout his career. Especially because he went on to reprise it 9 more times after 1964: on the 1974 spinoff "The New Adventures of Gilligan", then in 3 Gilligan TV movies, the 1982 spinoff "Gilligan's Planet" and the shows "The New Gidget", "Alf" and "Baywatch".

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Denver Replaced Woody Allen on Broadway

The actor was chosen to replace Woody Allen in his original Broadway production "Play It Again, Sam". According to the critics, he ended up surpassing Allen with his portrayal of the hit comedy's leading role. The New York Times critic Clive Barnes referred to his performance as "a genuine clown-like wistfulness", something that he thought was lacking in Allen.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Resurrected The Famous Characters

Denver didn't stop there, though. Following a few features on Broadway productions, Denver resurrected his Maynard G. Krebs and Gilligan characters for several films, TV sequels, and reunion series from 1977 to 1988.

Image Credit: Getty Images/CBS Photo Archive

Image Credit: Getty Images/CBS Photo Archive


Penned A Memoir Called "Gilligan, Maynard & Me"

Having lived such a decorated life, it only made sense for Denver to do his absolute best to condense it into a comprehensive little autobiography titled "Gilligan, Maynard & Me". Denver chronicled his long rollercoaster life in the form of a book that captured the antics that happened throughout his interesting life.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Vinnie Zuffante

Image Credit: Getty Images/Vinnie Zuffante


He Spent His Last Years Dedicated To His Son

Denver spent the last 21 years of his life taking care of his severely autistic son Colin, alongside his wife Dreama. His son, who needed full-time care, became his life purpose. They ended up starting "The Denver Foundation" to help families in need of support when it came to enriching their special need's family members.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Went Through Financial Problems

Years after playing Gilligan, and despite his popularity as a veteran TV actor, Bob found himself at an all-time low when it came to his finances. Unfortunately, he didn't do the best deal possible and ended up not getting much money from "Gilligan's Island" reruns.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Tried To Make It After Gilligan's Island

When you have one major hit, it's sometimes a once in a lifetime moment that you try to recapture. Denver unsuccessfully tried to make a television comeback on other series such "The Good Guys", "Dusty’s Trail", and "Far Out Space Nuts" from 1968 to 1975. None of these quite landed the success that he needed in the post-Gilligan era.

Image Credit: Getty Images/Steve Granitz

Image Credit: Getty Images/Steve Granitz


Bob Almost Didn't Get Cast As Gilligan

When Bob was suggested as Gilligan to Sherwood Schwartz, he didn't see it as such a good idea. At the time, Denver's best-known job was as Maynard Krebs on "Dobie Gillis", which gave him this "beatnik" image that was the exact opposite of what Schwartz was looking for. Denver did get the chance to convince Schwartz otherwise.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


Bob Didn't Pay Attention To Criticisms of "Gilligan's Island"

Although the audience loved the show, the critics felt the exact opposite way about it. Bob was aware of the criticism at the time, but he didn't give it much relevance, because he knew they were purposely doing something very silly. He was also very confident in the cast's quality.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images


He Allegedly Saved A Young Girl's Life

A woman once wrote Bob Denver saying that he had saved her little girl's life. While the little 9-year-old girl was in a coma, her mother would put on her favorite show "Gilligan's Island" on the TV. One day, the mother talked to the little girl saying she should wake up because it was her favorite episode, and...she did.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Image Credit: Getty Images

Bob Denver was, undoubtedly, a special actor and human being. Were you a fan of "Gilligan's Island" back in the days? Which other show that Bob appeared in do you remember? Let us know all about it in the comments section and don't forget to share the article!

Sources: IMDb, The Guardian, NY Times, KSHS, Forbes, TV Guide

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